How to Delegate More Effectively as a New Manager

A org chart is drawn with clear lines of responsibility

There’s more to delegating as a new manager than simply describing the job to be done.

There is the critical management factor of accountability. Sure, you can tell someone they are in charge of a certain piece of work, but it needs to be made clear just how far that accountability goes. Do they get to choose their own path toward the goal? Do they need to involve others?

Without defining accountability clearly, the goals and roles can get horribly confused, overlap or even become so indefinite that no one feels responsible, and the job doesn’t get accomplished.

Here are some tips, especially for new managers, to ensure that they delegate jobs clearly and that accountability is well understood by all. Each time you delegate work, you need to attach one name to the work. But here’s the challenge. As a new manager, you need to make clear the extent of the person’s accountability beyond just reporting in occasionally. Establish if someone has…

  1. Complete control
    The person in charge of this job owns it. They decide both who to include and how to proceed. They may want to solicit input or not. They may share information or not. They may schedule multiple meetings with many or handle the job with just a few select individuals. They operate with full authority toward getting the job done and they are solely responsible for the results.
  2. Partial control
    There is no absolute owner with this type of accountability. The person whose name is attached to the job acts more like a facilitator in coming to decisions. They work within the team but can step in to make the final call if the team gets stuck.
  3. Team player
    In this case, accountability is shared equally with other team members except that the person “in charge” will handle logistics such as setting meeting agenda and scheduling. This person has no more control than any others on the team and if there is disagreement about how to proceed, the issue must be addressed at a higher level.

For effective delegation, new managers must ensure the work is clearly described and the lines and types of accountability clearly defined.

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