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Delegation: A Look at the Pros and Cons

written by: Saoirse OMara • edited by: Ginny Edwards • updated: 8/20/2010

Knowing how and when to delegate tasks is something of an art form. How do you find the right balance, and what do you do if some team members don’t things as seriously as others?

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    Whenever a project requires more time than you can spend on it, you have to delegate certain tasks. For effective delegation, however, you should first be aware of the advantages and disadvantages of delegation.

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    The greatest advantage is obvious: When you delegate part of your work, you have more time for other tasks. But have you ever thought about other advantages of effective delegation?

    You can strengthen the self-esteem of your employees or colleagues when you delegate a challenging task to them, for example, as you show them that you trust their skills and sense of responsibility.

    You should take into consideration too that every man and woman thinks in a different way. Thus, delegation can lead to new, innovative ideas which can bring forward the company.

    If you have been irreplaceable in the past, you can delegate ever more challenging and complex tasks to a colleague to help him or her to grow into your reliable assistant. That way, you will leave your company with a calm conscience whenever you leave on vacation or are ill.

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    Teamwork can save time!

    Picture by Thomas Reyer, Juli 2007 / pixelio.de
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    Disadvantages

    When you delegate certain tasks, your employees or colleagues are normally not up to date as it would have been your task. So you may have to spend some time explaining what has to be done and how it has to be done. Your colleague or employee might also need to dig into a new topic which leads to ineffective utilization of time and resources. Furthermore, you cannot control if the task is done with the necessary diligence.

    When you are the boss or team leader, you might be responsible for any delays or mistakes even though you did not do the task on your own. That results in choosing whom to delegate tasks very carefully because you need to be able to rely on them.

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    Watch out who to trust!

    Picture by www.JenaFoto24.de / pixelio.de
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    Effective Delegation

    When you are aware of the various advantages and disadvantages of delegation, you can use the advantages while avoiding the disadvantages.

    Categorize the tasks you want to delegate concerning the field of expertise required. It will take less time to coach one employee or colleague on a specific topic and assign him or her several tasks than to coach several employees or colleagues on the same topic only to split up the tasks.

    Choose carefully who you can trust enough to assign him or her important tasks and boost his or her self-confidence showing that you rely on him or her. When you make it clear that only reliable and responsible persons get interesting tasks, it can encourage the others to put even more effort into their daily work to gain your trust.

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    Conclusion

    Effective delegation is a good means to use your human resources in the best way possible. If delegation is done without careful thoughts, however, it can backfire and cause ineffective utilization of resources, delays and mistakes.