The art of delegation: ensuring wellbeing

The art of delegation
The art of delegation

Celina Smith, a professor at Em-lyon business school, believes that directors and owners feel as though they are the custodians and guardians of their businesses and its key stakeholders, such as employees…

She points out that “if they do not delegate they run the risk of limiting the voice or role of external parties that can act as a counter balance to the sometimes idiosyncratic behaviours and decision-making that can characterise SMEs.”

Delegation is not just about improving business decisions, it’s also about ensuring a sense of wellbeing in a company. Lucy Whitehall is wellbeing consultant at CABA, the Chartered Accountants’ Benevolent Association, and she thinks that delegation can develop bonds of trust between managers and their employees.“This is because it generates empowerment in the employee being asked to take on the task, giving them autonomy. It also increases engagement, as having control over our workload and being chosen to complete a task makes us feel good. However, when you do delegate, you need to ensure you’re picking the right person for the task, and that they have the right skill set. It’s good business practice to delegate and give employees the chance to show what
they can do.”

Fiona Dent, of Ashridge Business School and co-author of The Leader’s Guide to Coaching & Mentoring thinks that “having staff who are prepared to both delegate and be delegated to creates an environment where your staff are punching above their weight. They are empowered and demonstrate a willingness to take on responsibilities and make decisions.”

However, Whitehall thinks there are many reasons people are afraid to delegate. She explains that finding it tough to delegate is not uncommon, and this is partly to do with wanting to feel in control. Often, taking the time to delegate and explain the task can feel counterproductive. By the time you’ve spoken to someone, you might have done the task yourself. She points out that people can also feel as though they’re coming across as bossy or controlling if they choose to ask somebody to do something for them. “We have more human reasons for not wanting to delegate – we often have tasks that allow us to procrastinate or are easy and enjoyable, which we don’t want to give up. However, if you did hand them over, you would have more time to devote to more important tasks, thus allowing you to give them the time they deserve.”

In tomorrow’s instalment of our delegation series, we discuss how you find the right person for the job…