In today’s workforce, modern-day managers have a myriad of readily available tools and resources at their disposal. Advancements in technology have made internal processes such as inventory, employee evaluation, records keeping, and communication more efficient. However, it is easy to fall victim to complacency in the age of technology and automation. Tech has changed, systems have changed, yet the principles that make a strong manager and leader remain the same. One of the most basic tools in the manager’s repertoire is also one that can be easily neglected: delegation. Managers pride themselves on their ability to take the intent of their superiors, interpret said intent, and relay it to their team while supervising execution. To further understand delegation, we will begin at the top of this process and work our way down.
Suggestions for Delegating to a Large Team with Multiple Managers
The upper-level manager will be the entity to issue his/her intent in detail to the management staff. The management team will be briefed on the plan and will be expected to execute the said plan in a set amount of time. Following the brief, responsibility will fall to the management team to periodically brief the upper-level manager on the status of the project as it progresses. The upper-level manager will leave the execution in the hands of his/her management staff. Barring any alterations to the project, this will be the extent to which upper-level management will be involved with the project. This is the first point of delegation.
The next level of execution will be handled at the level of the management team. Each individual manager will brief their team leaders, in accordance with the will of the upper-level manager. From this point forward, the manager will assume the role of a non-working supervisor. It is important that the manager oversees the completion of his/her part of the project while leaving execution and coordination to their team leaders. A certain level of freedom in how the work is delegated below the manager should be granted to the team leaders. So long as the project is progressing in conjunction with the initial timeline in a quality manner, the manager need not intervene.
At the level of the team leader, work-flow and processes should be closely monitored. It is the responsibility of the team leader to verify the quality of work, as well as timeliness in the project’s completion. The team leader will be ultimately responsible for making corrections and assisting the individual team members when necessary. As a working supervisor, the team leader is where the rubber meets the road, regarding the project. While this example of delegation seems simple, there are several friction points that can present themselves throughout the execution phase of the project, detracting from the timeliness and quality of the project. One such example is micromanagement. The strength of an efficient workforce is decentralization.
At every level, freedom in execution will ultimately allow each manager, team leader and team to work to the best of their abilities. If, for example, a manager was to get too involved in the workspace of the team leader, the team leader will be unable to effectively employ their team. They will be too focused on the manger’s involvement in their workspace, as the manager has now temporarily assumed the role of the team leader. While this may appear to be the solution to the manager’s original issue, he/she is not as proficient in employing the team leader’s staff. Meanwhile, the team leader, who does not have the skills required to assume the role of the manager, will be effectively unemployed.
At a point such as this, the manager has detracted from the efficiency of the project. There is no one available to oversee the execution of the team leader’s staff at a managerial level, and the team will fall victim to variation, as they are unfamiliar with a new leader’s management style. A proper solution would have been to pull the team leader aside, issue a correction, and continue to supervise the team as the non-working supervisor. The manager has failed to properly delegate, which will present an opportunity for waste and variation to manifest in the work-flow process.
At every level of leadership, it is imperative that each leader remind themselves of the importance of delegation. Failing to properly delegate and supervise accordingly can jeopardize the completion of the project. As a manager, remember that your sole purpose is to effectively employ your team under supervision. There is a level of brilliance that can be found at the root of the basics of management, and delegation can be found at the helm.