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Delegating up, down, and sideways.

We live in a highly competitive era. Industry competes to satisfy the expectations of an ever-demanding global clientele. As a result, work loads are increasing. Don't fret-there's a way to dig yourself out from underneath an overwhelming pile of work. Delegate ! Mastering the skills of delegation will allow you to thin out your "to do" list so you can get something done. By enlisting the help of others, you will be able to forge ahead efficiently instead of getting buried in backlog.

Downward Delegation

The most common form of delegating occurs when someone in a superior role transfers authority to a subordinate to enhance his or her overall business capacity. The downward delegating transaction runs smoothly if certain rules are followed:

* Be certain the person you chose can do the job.

* Know the result you want from your subordinates.

* Encourage feedback. Active participation helps delegatees understand the task at hand.

* Make regular progress checks on your subordinates. Supervision keeps people on schedule and lets them know you are interested in their success.

* Don't dole out assignments that are impossible to complete by deadline. This creates frustration.

Generally, delegating downward is fairly straightforward. If you follow the rules, the transaction should go smoothly. However, as the workplace becomes more complicated, delegation takes on new meaning.

Sideways Delegation

Delegating sideways to your peers can be a touchy proposition. Unlike subordinates, peers-by definitionaren't required to honor your requests for help. When you attempt to delegate sideways, your peer may wonder, What's in it for me?" Answering this question will ensure greater cooperation.

Try to think of something that will benefit your peer as a result of working for you. If there are no immediate benefits, think of a special way you can thank him or her afterwards. Appreciation is a very powerful source of motivation. A simple gesture of thanks, such as a card, works well.

Secondly, remember that you and your peer are team players. Neither of you is in business for yourself. If you can demonstrate or illustrate that delegating work to your peer will be good for the company, you should be able to get his or her cooperation. After all, what's good for the company is good for both of you.

Finally, whenever possible, take advantage of opportunities to help out fellow workers. What goes around comes around. People will be more likely to help you - and do a good job - if you've put yourself out on their behalf.

Upward Delegation

Everyone at one time or another has been privy to the utterings of a frantic boss-"I need it done now!" Often when the boss needs something done now, you are already loaded down with other work assignments. It's a challenge not to become defensive when words like these are thrown your way. Delegating upwards will allow you to maintain your cool.

The preliminary step to delegating upwards is listing everything your boss tells you to do. Keep two prioritized "to do" lists, one for weekly assignments and one for each day, in a location visible to anyone.

The next time your boss hysterically bestows on you another deadline, calmly refer your boss to your "to do" lists composed of his or her requests. Then, respectfully say to your boss, "How can I reprioritize this list to determine what items can be put off until tomorrow or next week?"

In essence, you are putting the responsibility back into your boss's lap. He or she is forced to confront the impossible schedule you are under. Your boss will most likely make some changes in the list for you when you delegate upwards.

If you work for two or three bosses, you are probably up against conflicting schedules. Delegating upwards in this kind of situation can save you from being overwhelmed.

If you are in the middle of a rush job for boss X and boss Y presents you with work that needs to be done immediately, politely say, "I'm in the middle of an assignment for boss X; let me know what you and boss X think is most important."

Delegation takes on new meaning in today's workplace. It is no longer a mechanism only for those in superior positions. It is a tool all workers can use to help move the company forward.

The method of soliciting help differs with an individual's status, but the outcome is always the same. Cooperation is instilled, heavy work loads are lightened, and progress occurs efficiently. Joan Pastor has been a management consultant, trainer, and speaker for over 12 years with clients around the world. She is an expert in communication, conflict resolution, and management development. For more information on the services her company offers, call 619/9459767. Risa Gechtman is a free-lance writer based in the San Diego, CA, area.
COPYRIGHT 1990 American Society for Industrial Security
No portion of this article can be reproduced without the express written permission from the copyright holder.
Copyright 1990 Gale, Cengage Learning. All rights reserved.

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Author:Pastor, Joan; Gechtman, Risa
Publication:Security Management
Date:Jun 1, 1990
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