What is the force that makes teamwork effective?
Empowering your team members.
An empowered team is significantly more productive than a group of individuals working under strict guidelines. As the people in your work group become aware that you are willing to empower them, they are more committed to the tasks you delegate.
Effective delegation is a people development and time management tool; for maximum benefits, match activities with the appropriate people according to the needs of the group and the skills and abilities of individual team members. Delegation, properly carried out, develops employees into team players. When employees are empowered, accountability and responsibility rise to a higher level.
Empowering team members through delegation involves transferring not only the responsibility for performing tasks, but also the authority, resources, rewards, and knowledge necessary to perform them. In some situations, standardization and inflexibility are essential. However, in giving assignments, recognize when teamwork and flexibility are the better approach. Empowering people requires you as a leader to become teacher, coach, colleague, and mentor, not just boss. Followers and peers in some cases even exceed your abilities, ideas, and expectations. Consider such a result as evidence of your personal success as a leader.
Empowerment and delegation involve inherent risk. Learn to take appropriate risks when the promised productivity payoff justifies it. When you delegate, remember that you are still accountable for results. You are responsible to upper management and to the organization as a whole for achieving results. You cannot excuse mistakes by saying, “I delegated that to someone else.” Occasionally, you may need to take responsibility for mistakes made by those who report to you. But overall, you can confidently accept the risks of delegation when you choose your employees well, train them carefully, and prepare them adequately for accepting appropriate responsibility.
Delegate Wisely Monitor….delegation regularly and measure the progress of the work group to keep it on track, to stay in touch, and to avoid wasted time and effort.
To reap the benefits of delegation and also avoid the pitfalls, define the following degrees of freedom according to the situation:
• Act and report routinely
• Act and report immediately
• Seek approval, then act
• Wait until told.
Communication and Delegation
Successful delegation requires planning, careful introduction and training, commitment of all team members, and effective follow-up. Effective delegation always involves adequate communication. People accept responsibility and act when they know what you expect. Talk informally with a person before actually turning over responsibility. You might say, “I’m considering handling some procedures in a different manner in order to reach long-range departmental goals. I’d like your reaction regarding who could best handle this, perhaps even you.” This nonthreatening approach allows the person to express fears or enthusiasm about the idea of accepting delegated responsibility. You also receive their insight and ideas about how to address the project most efficiently.
Gradually turn over the responsibility. You might say something like this: “I’d like you to handle this portion of the work. Of course, I’ll work with you until the whole process goes smoothly.” The groundwork is laid for you to move gradually out of the picture. As the worker develops confidence and efficiency, move further aside by setting specific checkpoints for the employee to report on results. Provide assurance that you are available for questions whenever needed. Gradually move to more informal supervision by telling the worker to let you know whenever some problem arises. Moving up to a higher level of delegation provides more time for you and empowers the team member for increased productivity.
Any time you delegate a responsibility, also delegate appropriate authority to act. In addition to communicating with the individual who will be assuming the duty and authority, announce the change to others who are affected that the function has been delegated and that you expect appropriate cooperation and collaboration. When you delegate responsibility to employees, you must back their actions. If an error is made, use it as an opportunity for private coaching. Along with authority goes accountability, and the one to whom you delegate authority must be accountable to you for results. But since you are still accountable to the organization as a whole, you will want to be sure that you give adequate training and support. Delegate increasing authority and responsibility levels, and you achieve the productivity benefits of empowerment.
In many ways, empowerment embodies principles effective managers and leaders have practiced for years. Two new driving forces in business, increased diversity and high-speed change, magnify the need for empowerment. Empowering people is now indispensable for effective personal productivity and maximum team success.