All of us know that in today’s work environment — and particularly in our larger organizations — we need to delegate authority and responsibility.
We must learn how to delegate, as well as how to train and create environments where people who are close to the situation (and close to the customer) are the ones making decisions. Both are critical factors in individual and organizational success.
While it can be difficult to cede authority to someone else, true delegation of authority happens when that transfer has happened and the supervisor is no longer micromanaging, but has set parameters. These parameters are more than just the goals and objectives; they’re the cultural “bumpers” which describe not only the what, but also the how of things are to be accomplished.
Leaders forget that when authority is truly delegated, the final authority is also delegated. As an example, imagine a subordinate has been told he has the authority to schedule employees in their department. However, when the schedule is about to be posted, the employee’s manager reviews the schedule and makes 11th-hour changes. In this case, the authority was never delegated, and the employee is likely frustrated, thinking he’d been given the authority — when, in actuality, he was only given another task.
Delegation isn’t abdication, and the manager is still accountable for the success of the organization. How, then, does the manager provide leadership and maintain influence in those areas that have been delegated?
The answer is quite simple: Just ask.
One of the lessons we teach our children is to ask — not just take things. Being polite (asking rather than taking and using the word “please”) are learned behaviors which we don’t want to unlearn when we become organizational leaders and managers.
Learning how to manage by asking questions rather than giving orders can be a huge win for the manager and the organization. People feel empowered and enjoy their jobs when they feel supported and coached rather than watched and micromanaged.
Remember that effective managers delegate — not only to reduce their workloads, but also to develop leaders and future managers. Leaders who have the appropriate authority to match their responsibility thrive and grow, which benefits both individuals and the church-at-large alike.
Ken Behr is an executive pastor at Christ Fellowship, Palm Beach Gardens, FL.