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Employing Delegation as a Management Task

written by: Marlene Gundlach • edited by: Michele McDonough • updated: 10/16/2009

Knowing how to delegate tasks to others can free your time up for more critical jobs. Knowing how to ask for help and monitor the progress though is critical.

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    Delegation

    Delegating is often a difficult task for project managers to master. Some may turn to it just to accomplish a task or meet a deadline. However, it is also an effective managing skill that demonstrates leadership. Instead of taking on all of the work themselves, project managers can assign work to others. However, this is not something that can be done without forethought and planning.

    Before delegating responsibility to others, a project manager needs to analyze the situation at hand and plan accordingly. Even though you are delegating tasks, you are still ultimately responsible for the end result. Begin by reviewing upcoming milestones and what requirements need to be met before each milestone is delivered. The next step is to determine whether these are tasks that can be delegated, and who is the best candidate to successfully complete the job. Be sure to fairly distribute work, keeping in mind the particular dynamics of your office. Setting guidelines for completion is also recommended. Let workers know what is expected and when; be sure everyone is well informed up front.

    After the tasks are delegated, you must continue to monitor progress. Just because you have handed off some of the responsibility, keep in mind again that you are ultimately responsible for the end result. Set a schedule to check in on progress being made either through face-to-face meetings or regular email updates. There are also programs such as Comindwork that allow project managers to monitor work records and what has been accomplished on any given day.

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    Check List

    Some find it difficult to delegate. They often feel it is best to just do the work all themselves. However, if you can get yourself to a place where you are comfortable seeking the help of others, you ultimately will be a more productive project manager. The following list can be used to guide you along the process of delegation:

    • Decide what to delegate. The project manager must complete certain tasks. Make a list of what needs to be done, and then study the list to determine which tasks are a good fit for other workers.
    • Who can you delegate to? If Tom is a procrastinator and you are on a tight deadline, he should not be your first choice to delegate a task to. Match the tasks with the support staff that best meets your needs. This should take some thought and planning, don’t just throw it out to the first one to respond to an email.
    • Protect yourself. During the entire process, be sure to communicate your needs and monitor the project. Then, you can decide if you need to intervene at some point. Do not hesitate to step in and make suggestions or alleviate someone of their duties. Remember, that you are still responsible for the end result; therefore you must take an active role in monitoring the work of others.

    Some find it difficult to delegate. They often feel it is best to just do the work all themselves. However, if you can get yourself to a place where you are comfortable seeking the help of others, you ultimately will be a more productive project manager.

    For more articles on project management read Joe Taylor Jr's five-part series, Best Practices in Project Management. In this series Joe covers the following topics:

    • Following the Project Cycle
    • Standardizing Procedures
    • Clear Communication
    • Dealing with Change
    • Choose the Right Tools