Organizational excellence – Importance of delegation and escalation

January 17, 2011 at 2:48 pm | Posted in Blogroll, Organizational Excellence | 1 Comment

When a person delegates to another, he is empowering the other person to make decisions or take actions on his behalf while still retaining the accountability for the results. Insufficient delegation can overload a person and very soon he becomes a bottleneck chocking progress on various tasks and initiatives. We see many such cases in our day-to-day life in an organization. If this problem is wide-spread and especially present higher in the hierarchy, it can do considerable damage. However we become numb to its seriousness because we get used to it. Conscious and sustained actions to remove such bottlenecks would make a substantial contribution to the organizational excellence.

Delegation is important not only because it frees the person from overload but also since each person has a unique combination of skills knowledge and capabilities. Delegating a right task to the right person can greatly speed up the progress as well as substantially reduce the risk of failure delays or rework due to poor quality. It frees the delegator to focus on things he is good at.

Though it is common to delegate top-down in the hierarchy, it is possible to delegate to the peers or even upwards. However, in such cases we can’t use the clout of our position; we need to make use of our powers to influence others. We also need much higher sense of commitment on the part of those to whom we are trying to delegate.

If delegation is so useful and beneficial, why does it not occur as often or as much as it should? There may be different reasons for different persons but most common ones are: Fear of losing control and credit, risk of actual or perceived failures and extra efforts needed to keep track. These can be partially overcome by gradually delegating from simple / less risky to complex / critical tasks, watching progress and stopping or pulling back in time.

 Escalation is the other side of the coin. A person to whom some task has been delegated should escalate it back in time if he feels necessary before it is too late. But this requires good understanding and rapport between the two. Another case of escalation is when those affected by the actions or decisions escalate it to the person accountable before the damage is done. This is an important check but does not happen often in practice for fear of offending the person to whom the action / decision was delegated. Having a right culture where everybody concerned takes it in right spirit is very important.

 To summarize, effective delegation and escalation in an organization helps minimize bottlenecks and allows free flow of the synergy leading to organizational excellence. But it requires a right culture and sensitization of all concerned to its potential.

I would really appreciate any thoughts / experiences from you that either support or challenge what is said above.

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