Delegation and empowerment are two of the core skills needed to be a successful leader. After all, you can’t do everything on your own and neither should you be expected to, as there is only so much value you can deliver without becoming overloaded and ineffective.
This is critical to maintaining organisational effectiveness, developing your team’s skills and also reducing stress on yourself as a leader.
Delegation and empowerment effectively involves giving responsibility to other people for the successful delivery of a task, whilst maintaining some level of control over the process and end result.
A simple but effective way of creating a good environment for providing empowerment is to use the tried and trusted method of SMART. By following the SMART steps, you can ensure that you can delegate effectively and use the skill to really benefit the team and its individuals.
Specific – Be specific as to what exactly you want them to do.
Measurable – Agree what successful completion of the task means. Ensure you can measure a good job done.
Achievable – Ensure you set achievable goals. If you don’t, you risk morale running low and ineffectiveness spreading amongst the team.
Relevant – The task / goal must be relevant to the team or individual and in line with their development needs.
Timely – Every goal or task must have a target completion, upon which to measure the effectiveness of the goal. Always ensure that the person or people undertaking the task understand the time span and when to complete by.
A great method for effective delegating is to use the Situational Leadership Model or our Flexible leadership ebook as the level of delegation and autonomy needed in an individual can vary depending on their competence and their willingness to do a specific task.
In summary though, the following are generic steps to take in order to effectively provide delegation and empowerment, using the SMART approach.
1. Define the task
The first step in providing an environment for delegation and empowerment is to identify the task needed to be completed. Also, establish the reason why you are delegating. Start with the end in mind and get a clear understanding of the task ahead; the benefits and reasons for delegating (E.G. developmental, effectiveness etc). Be absolutely clear as to what the task is and why you are delegating.
2. Select the individual or team
Now select the most appropriate team or individual. The most pertinent questions here are:
You may though, decide to embark on more training and coaching before letting the loose on the task. Again, the situational leadership model is great at moving people along the journey to full empowerment.
3. Clear Communication
Now explain the reason why you are delegating and also what the task is. You need to be open and as transparent as possible. Also discuss what is the task’s importance and relevance. Where does it fit in the overall scheme of things?
4. State the results of the task
As before, start with the end in mind; explain what the result of the task should be. Agree what success looks like and indeed how the task will be measured. Give clear and transparent description of the end result and what completion of the task is. This forms the gauge of measurement and whether job has been done or not.
5. Agree the Objectives and Resources
Delegation and empowerment is useless if you haven’t agreed the outcome, so it is essential that you establish a clear understanding and agreement of the task, its goals and also the resources needed to complete the job. Resources could be people, location, time, money, equipment, etc. Whatever it is, obtain a total understanding and agreement of the goal of the task and how to meet it. By doing this, you give a great chance of your delegation and empowerment goals to work effectively.
6. Ensure that the task set is in line with the goals of the team and individual.
By doing this, you ensure that you meet the fourth criteria of SMART, which is relevance and that is, relevance to the person or team and their goals and development needs.
7. Agree deadlines
The seventh step in delegation and empowerment – Deadlines. When must the job be finished? Or if an on-going duty, when are the review dates? When are the reports due? And if the task is complex and has parts or stages, what are the priorities?
The output from steps three to seven would mean a clear and robust plan of attack, whereby both parties understands the task, its goals, the resources needed and how to proceed. The additional requirements would be to agree reviews and their frequency. How often will you review depends on the person or team’s original competency: more frequent reviews will be for those that need more help and assistance during the task, whereas less frequent updates would be more applicable to those who are more competent and autonomous.
Nevertheless, agree at this stage the frequency of updates and reviews.
8. Support and communicate
Support the person or team during the activity. Support depends on the level of competence in that individual. If someone is relatively new to the task, then a more directing role may suffice with regular reviews and watchful support. If the person or team is competent then your support will be less formal and intervention will be only when needed and regular updates on progress will suffice.
At this stage, let all interested parties know of the task and what your plans are for delegation, so everyone understands and is clear.
9. Provide Regular Feedback
Lastly, when providing the platform for delegation and empowerment, it is essential to let the person know how they are doing on a regular basis, during the task, and whether they have achieved their aims. If not, you must review with them why things did not go to plan, and deal with the problems. It is essential to reward the right behaviour and consistently give thoughtful feedback on performance.
Your aim as a leader is to transition the person(s) through to a high level of competency on the task in hand. Once they are, look for new tasks and ways to help them improve and develop furthermore, as this should be an on-going cycle of development.
Feedback, regular discussions and coaching is essential to your role as a leader. Without it, the good work you may have put in upfront will fizzle out and often then creates worsening morale and animosity. Remember, people judge you on how you lead them. If they feel that they are poorly led, then they will become disheartened and resent you and your leadership style.
Delegation and empowerment should be used as a primary tool when leading your teams. It is a powerful way of diversifying a person’s role, whilst keeping them fresh and motivated. It can also act as a way of developing your team’s skill and abilities, whilst ensuring that not everything solely relies on you to get things done.
By following the steps above in view of delegating and empowering your teams, and linking them into the SMART framework, your team can learn and develop new skills to benefit the team and themselves.