By Natalie D. Brecher, CPM
Published in the February 2007 issue of Today’s Facility Manager
Delegation should be easy. All a manager needs to do is tell the employee what is wanted. That “should be,” however, is not the reality of delegation. There are particular nuances of delegating work successfully, and there are just as many negative consequences of poor delegation which can ultimately harm a manager’s ability to succeed.
Not getting the desired results is most likely the first thought that comes to mind for facility managers when considering what can go wrong with delegation, but there are additional detrimental effects. Improper delegation wastes employees’ time which costs the company money, frustrates the employees, and diminishes their motivation. Ultimately, poor results from employees reflect negatively on the manager, operations suffer, and the end user of the facility sees inefficiencies and poor service.
But, delegation can also provide a means to achieve better results from employees, thereby creating success for facility managers. When delegation and empowerment are used wisely, managers create a committed staff that is proactive, takes initiative, creates innovative solutions, and produces exceptional work…all contributing to the manager’s career success.
Facility professionals must embrace these basic philosophies to be successful when delegating work. With these beliefs directing the underlying motives behind delegation, assigning work becomes a method for inclusion, motivation, and work satisfaction for employees—instead of just another assignment being dumped on their desks.
The ability to accomplish more is drastically reduced when there is a quest for perfection. If a manager often thinks that if he or she doesn’t do the work it will not be done correctly, perfectionism is the source and work suffers. Can one methodology or one result truly be perfect? Or can there be several routes to a positive outcome? Being open to alternatives allows managers to be more effective and productive.
A desire for perfectionism results in continuously monitoring the details of employees’ work, in other words, micromanaging. Employees want—and need—control to feel satisfied in their jobs. Micromanaging removes control, creating lowered self-confidence and frustration for employees, and makes the statement that their thoughts are not respected by their supervisors.
For department heads, identifying employee strengths is the first step in using those skills to the organization’s advantage. It also helps managers target weaknesses for the purpose of assigning appropriate duties and helping employees improve their skills, thereby contributing to mutual success.
If quality results are essential, facility managers should preface the assignment with praise, citing the employee’s specific strengths to be used in the task. When employees feel their strengths are appreciated, their commitment to the work increases.
To improve skills through delegation, managers must determine exactly what the employee is going to learn. How can the work be assigned to develop those skills yet ensure success? How can it be monitored to prevent mistakes or failure, yet leave the employee with some degree of control? Employees who fail at tasks will be reluctant to take on other challenges, so a manager must be a guide when developing the skills of an employee.
Excellent facility managers identify their strengths and weaknesses so they know when to ask for help or delegate work to someone with stronger skills. Leaders surround themselves with people of differing skills and varying levels, including people who are better able to accomplish some types of work than they are. Acknowledging this positions a manager to delegate work for positive outcomes. [Read about TFM’s 2007 Facility Executive of the Year Bill Coleman to find out how this can be accomplished. The story appears online at this link.]
In addition, when a manager works to improve his or her skills, employees see a strong role model for doing so themselves. By setting the example of lifelong learning, facility professionals can inspire employees to work on improving their skills as well.
When a manager’s vision is clear enough to see there is more than one right answer, employees will be more willing to share ideas and take initiative. When alternative solutions are welcomed, employees will be more willing to take on assignments, confident that their knowledge and ideas will be respected and accepted.
Everyone makes mistakes at times, and employees who see their supervisor admit when a mistake has been made and use it as a learning experience not only have greater respect for their supervisor, they also believe it is acceptable for them to make mistakes too. Setting this example tells employees to take initiative and contribute more ideas about the facility’s operations, even when there is the risk of making a mistake.
Delegation is not merely assigning tasks; it is assigning authority as well. Combining authority with delegation results in employees feeling responsible and in control, which leads to more satisfaction with their work—a foundation that leads to excellence in customer service. If a facility manager does not delegate assignments along with the corresponding authority to complete them, an employee has a far greater chance of failure.
Establishing teams to resolve issues, create processes, and develop procedures can result in better outcomes than if only one person is working on the assignment. Managers who delegate to a team help employees work well together; capitalize on the spectrum of knowledge and skills within the team; create the opportunity for varied solutions; and provide more success for the organization. Team results are just as valuable as individual results.
Employees bring both high quality work and increased productivity to the organizations for which they work when delegation is rooted in these philosophies. Positioning employees for success simultaneously heightens managers’ successes. Facility professionals should make a point to get the best work from their staff members through effective delegation and empowerment.
Brecher is a performance improvement specialist, providing consulting and training relating to workplace performance and individuals’ professional skills. Her keynote and training programs can be explored at www.BrecherAssociates.com. For free tools to improve management skills, visit www.management-mentor.com .