How The Star Fish Got Its Star: Delegation

photo: courtesy of

photo: courtesy of

Delegation is largely used as a tool to lead a team towards achieving collective sets of objectives. At work, beyond helping one free up some more time for other tasks, it also serves a more utilitarian purpose – developing others.

It is said that while autonomy regarding how the task is to be carried out resides with the delegatee, ultimate responsibility and accountability is still borne by the delegator.

The inspiration for this post was sparked by a thought. As I pondered on how to bring a team member up to speed,  especially an under-performing employee, I identified several underlying benefits of delegation when employed as a cost effective method for grooming and preparing lower level employees for higher level roles – succession planning.

First, it provides the delegatee with adequate exposure. By presenting a learning opportunity, it serves to polish and expand employee’s skill base.

Secondly, the hands-on experience needed to function in the next level is easily gained when delegation is employed as a development tool.

Delegation is also useful as a sort of practice ground. It allows enough room to ‘fail early’ without any permanent damage being done to the employee’s credibility.

Then again, performing exceptionally at your boss’s tasks is the perfect opportunity to get you noticed for greater responsibility and possibly, your next promotion.

Lastly, delegation makes an expert delegator of the delegatee. That is, with time, the delegatee learns the trade and in turn uses it as a tool to bring up the next generation of managers/leaders.

Care must however be taken when delegating responsibility/tasks. The delegator must consider such things as approved policy on access to sensitive information, over-delegation as well as over-burdening a single individual with tasks -which can lead to negative implications (burn out or resentment).

It would be useful however to ensure that a diligent review of the completed tasks is undertaken (in an environment of trust where feedback is provided in a constructive fashion).

The art of delegation, when properly utilized leads to improved quality of work and greater productivity. So, the next time the CEO, your HOD, or manager cascades his work down to you, rather than grumble or churn out a shoddy work, remember to embrace it as an opportunity to learn, grow, acquire fresh skills AND shine.

4 thoughts on “How The Star Fish Got Its Star: Delegation

  1. I have to agree with Ms. E… I for one feel very strongly about developing subordinates & teams, and while I may not be big on the ‘formalities’ of mentoring, I appreciate the concept of delegation as as means of exposing lower cadre to higher responsibilities and developing capacity.

    Nice piece. A lot for both the boss and the delegate to take in and appreciate…

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