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Why it pays to delegate work

WORK LIFE
By Peter Kamuri | October 10th 2014

Early this week, President Uhuru Kenyatta appointed his deputy, William Ruto to act as the President, as per the Constitution, as he attended the ICC Status Conference in The Hague, Netherlands.

Although critics dismissed it as mere politics, it was a show of trust and a reminder to managers on the importance of delegating work to their juniors. In many cases, most managers do not give those under them a chance to work independently as they seem not to trust them. Occasionally, even simple decisions cannot be made as the subjects fear being reprimanded.

Every manager must learn how to delegate work. “Delegation means the assignment of responsibility to others expecting some defined results. It means you entrust your authority to others and is one aspect of good leadership,” says Washington Opiyo, a career advisor. But why do some managers fear delegating their work to others?

“A significant number of people in positions of leadership fear delegating tasks to others because they think they will give others authority and consequently they lose control,” says Opiyo.

However, this is not the case. “Any time you delegate work to others, it does not mean that you stop being responsible. You are still involved but the extent of that involvement will vary depending on the existing knowledge and skill levels of the person receiving the delegation,” he says.

“Others fear to delegate because they harbour the unfounded belief that those being given the tasks do not have the capacity to accomplish them. This is a fallacy because it is not in order to doubt a person even when you have not given them a chance to prove themselves,” says Opiyo.

Experts opine that some managers fear that if the delegated work is done perfectly, credit would go to other people and they will lose relevance. Consequently, their positions will be at stake as they can easily be dispensed with.

Accruing benefits

If delegation is done properly, there are many accruing benefits. “Good delegation promotes efficiency and motivation. Workers feel that they are trusted and consequently give their best,” says Opiyo. “Good delegation also gives employees a chance to acquire new experience and skills, which leads to increased productivity. In the long run, work is equitably distributed in the organisation as there is sharing of tasks.”

However, delegation of work should not be done blindly. Experts say the person delegating the work must be knowledgeable enough to explain the tasks to be delegated. It is also important to ensure that the person to whom the work is being delegated has the requisite skills and knowledge.

“When delegating work to others, decide what and when to delegate. It is also advisable to identify a suitable person for the task, who should be thoroughly briefed. After delegating the tasks, it is important to keep in touch with the person for support and monitoring progress, but do not get too close,” says Opiyo.

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