To delegate or not to delegate? That is not a question!

To delegate or not to delegate?

There is no doubt that delegating is necessary.

To delegate is context dependent, and it is not a binary thing. The art of management is finding the right balance by considering the context and team maturity. Managers must never forget that empowerment is a skill to be learned and that every empowerment activity is an investment that requires patience. As time goes by, the team will grow, and the boundaries will be able to go wider and wider, and the authority level will go higher and higher. According to recent research, greater success is achieved by those organizations that give autonomy to their employees, accept self-organization as the way of functioning and create an environment in which they get true employee engagement. Today, we can often hear that we live in a V.U.C.A world and that the only way to survive in such an environment is to create fluid systems of distributed authority and collective intelligence. So, we can freely say that empowered organizations are not a matter of choice, but a matter of survival.

Empowered organizations are more resilient and agile. The traditional management and leadership approach does not fit into this kind of environment. In order to cope with the challenges of the V.U.C.A world, we need to make a paradigm shift when it comes to management. You can find more on this topic in the blog post – Organizations as complex adaptive system.

All organizations are complex adaptive systems

No matter what the organizational chart looks like, at the end of the day all organizations are complex adaptive systems. That’s why the complexity theory is good news for managers because it offers them a new scientific way of looking at complex systems. Research shows that such systems often work best when control is distributed, and authority is pushed to all corners of the organizational network (as much as possible) so that everyone can make decisions where they have the best available local information.

With a complex adaptive system there is no such thing as central control. Distributed control is the only way to manage them. 

There is no other option. By distributing control, we also improve system efficiency, resilience, and chances of survival.

Empowerment requires delegating decisions

What scientists call distributed control in the world of management we usually call empowerment. Empowerment requires delegating decisions. But delegation is not always easy. Managers often fear a loss of control when teams take over decision-making. In addition, it is often the case that team members are not comfortable taking control because they have no idea how to take responsibility. Therefore, in order to feel safe (in both cases), we need to give people a sense that they have some control over their situation. Managers must find a way to hand over responsibilities to their team in a controlled manner. They cannot just throw everything at the team; they need to do it in gradual way and to make it perfectly clear where the boundaries are and what the team authority level is. It is great to delegate as much as possible to increase empowerment of the system. But if you go too far, it could lead to an undesirable and costly outcome.

Managers need to find out how much they can delegate, and that depends on the maturity of the team and the impact of decisions on the organization.

Delegation Poker

Management 3.0 is offering seven levels of delegation which can be beneficial to any person wanting to delegate work to someone else. By combining seven levels of delegation with other popular Management 3.0 practice – Delegation Board and Delegation Poker – the person wanting to delegate work to someone else can make it perfectly clear where the boundaries are and what the authority level is. A delegation board enables the management to clarify delegation and foster empowerment for both the management and workers.

Join us at the Management 3.0 Foundation workshop if you want to learn more about the seven levels of delegation. You will also get a chance to hear and learn what lies behind Delegation Board and Delegation Poker, popular Management 3.0 practices

Author: Vladimir Kelava