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The Importance of Delegation in Business
The hardest skill for a manager to master sometimes is delegation. It is a skill that, at the root, is fundamental in the ultimate success in whatever endeavor one would encounter. Delegation is very important, especially in the business that I am in, the parcel industry. United Parcel Service is a multibillion dollar corporation where I am currently employed. Within its structure, without those who can properly delegate, it would be virtually impossible to manage its many processes effectively. It actually starts at the top of the chain, the corporate level. Within our corporate setting, we have different elements that are rolled up into what one would call a balanced scorecard. The scorecard consists of four major elements, business, people, turnover, and technology. Regional Managers role out the elements that is pertinent to their particular sector of the operation. These are delegated to those at the district level (managers). The hierarchy is as follows……Corporate, regional, district, division, center. I personally fall into the category under center management. The center manager rolls out tasks to the full-time supervisors who then, in turn, roll out tasks to me as a part time supervisor. The jobs and tasks that I am personally responsible for directly correlate with those who are at the top of the chain, just at a smaller portion. The absolute key in delegation would be to have solid controls in place for accountability. You will notice that this will be a recurring theme within this paper. Without accountability within the infrastructure, can there really be success in delegation in any industry?
There are several ways delegation can by more effective with regards to planning, leading or controlling. One of the very first measures that must be in place is good checklists. With the constant demands to get more out of your work force with the fewest dollars spent on overhead, it is essential that one has a checklist at every level in order to ensure that nothing goes undone. To those who are in charge, there is nothing more negligible that mismanagement of labor; waste. The most difficult task, if not properly controlled and managed, can be the difference in having one’s job and ultimate termination. Here is an example. At UPS, it is the responsibility of the part-time unload supervisor to check the yard to make sure that there are no trailers that are due for our particular destination that go unprocessed. Let us go a step further. Because of the completive nature of the business, it is imperative the absolute best service possible be given to every customer. Our motto simply stated, “Every package everyday.” We, in turn guarantee service on every package, no matter the level of service, whether it is an international next day air early A.M. (most expensive service offered) to our basic service level, which is ground. Regardless of the level, we commit to a package being delivered to its destination at the appointed time. On average, we refund our customers $47.53 per package on packages not delivered by the time specified at the time of billing. This is why it is so crucial to have checklists in place for every management person at every level. This illustration will show you. Recently, there was a trailer on our property that was behind our facility. Usually when you find this, it is a trailer that is in transit to another location that is awaiting further coordination. This particular day, there were two part-time supervisors who were suppose to check the yard and the paperwork for every trailer to make sure that there was not a trailer for our destination to be processed. Apparently, no one checked, and it was for our center. Their immediate supervisor was on vacation. He actually reports to the center manager. Inevitably, it was the job of the center manager to make sure that there was another FT supervisor in place to check off the part-time supervisors’ checklists. The result was that we didn’t realize the trailer was on the yard until the next shift of supervisors arrived. By then, it was too late. We missed service on nearly 1000 packages, which cost our company nearly a half of million dollars in returned fees and labor. In contrast to how we may think, this slip travels uphill and, eventually, the Regional Mgr must answer about why we were going to lose this type of money, not to mention the business and potential customers we were going to lose. How does one gain back their good name? Making sure there is good accountability in place is vital to success and can sometimes be unforgiving. There is no survival without attention to detail.
Again, I cannot stress the importance of accountability, from the top level to the bottom level and the continuity that is required to be successful. Our company is too big to leave it in the hands of a select few to strategize and plan everything from a. to z. Delegating these planned tasks and distributing them evenly throughout the management circuit realm will ensure evenness and fairness across the board. Again, accountability is absolutely the key in the success or failure of one’s organization. Good leaders who are great delegates make sure that they don’t suffer the brunt of the load in regards to the overall success of the company. Great leaders, who are also effective communicators, are rare. When you are not bogged down with everyday tasks and micromanaging every detail, you can keep your focus sharp. Like my platoon leader would say when I was in the military, “You can’t be the private and the sergeant and get anything done!” I believe that is so true.
In order to be good at delegating within the framework of one’s company, there’s a litany if attributes that you must possess and some criteria that cannot be taught. You have to first be a great listener. A person who will not listen is only blocking out pertinent issues and ideas that could be paramount in the success of your day to day operation. Next, one must be an effective communicator. If you do not have the skills necessary to communicate, you will find that many people will have good ideas, but not be willing to share because of your lack of positively being conveying a message. You must also be one that is positive. Who wants negativity around all the time? A person must also be charismatic. Part of this tool is also being able to be a people person. To be good at delegation, you must have this in your arsenal and have business sense. You need a plethora of skills in order to be a great delegate. A person who can handle pressure can also produce. In very successful businesses, you find that people care very much about results. CAN YOU PRODUCE ? ARE YOU BUILT FOR THE PRESSURE? A great motivator can make anything happen. One who is relentless and demands results. A good delegation motivates and a poor delegation will cause confusion, frustration, and failure. Mind you, the things I have mentioned throughout this paper are tools, in my estimation, for those who want to be the very bold at delegation. This is a complete summary of delegation, ways to be effective, downfalls, and tools to be great.