Strategic Human Capital Insights

Delegation: A Key to Developing a Human Asset Management Strategy

If a Human Capital approach is your goal, then delegation must be in your leadership toolkit

team of successful business people having a meeting in executive sunlit officeIn an earlier blog, we asked the question, “Is your current leadership team up to the Human Asset Management Task?"

Quality leadership is a critical element for a robust human asset management strategy. If we agree that a critical function of the leadership role is to continually develop employees (the asset in human asset management), then employees must be a critical competencyof the leadership role.  Employees are your implementation squad. They make things happen, or not!  It’s easy to talk about developing employees, but actually doing it and doing it well is another story. The barrier to developing great employees is the key leadership skill of delegation.

Delegation is the most underrated skill, which is ironic because it is not only one of the MOST IMPORTANT skills, but also one of the MOST DIFFICULT and MULTIFUNCTIONAL skills that a manager must perfect. Leadership, you can’t think that employees will create themselves into their own self-appreciating assets. Some will, but most will not. Why? Employees are not typically privy to the macro-organizational issues of human asset management, nor do they systematically know exactly what they need to do. Leadership and delegation is your job, not theirs.


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So why is delegation so hard?  Because great delegation is an investment of your time! 

As a leadership / managerial competency, skillful delegation is multifunctional, comprehensive, and takes time. It is normally an acquired skill, not one that we ‘just know’. It’s a 2-part competency, that is both:

  1. Intellectual – knowledge based
  2. Behavioral – multi-skills based

This multifunctional delegation competency involves a deep understanding of the following:

  • Intellectual / Knowledge
    • Motivation Theory
    • Individual Employee Personality Style – every person requires and deserves a unique approach for success
    • Expectation and Consequence Management
    • Monitoring and Accountability for both the leader / manager and the employee
  • Behavioral / Skills
    • Communication Skills
      • Active listening
      • Questioning
      • Confirming
    • Coaching Skills
      • Gaining agreement
      • Handling excuses
  • Managing expectations
  • Risk Assessment
    • Confidence building
    • Fear of failure
    • Timing and deliverables

Anything short of incorporating all these skills, like macro dumping or micro delegating, is not real delegation. There are no shortcuts and there is no way around skillful delegation. It requires that a leader or manager be motivated, knowledgeable and willing to unselfishly invest time and effort into an employee NOW.


The Critical Role of Leadership / Management and Successful Delegation

Leadership and management are the organizational linking pins that align employees with strategic business initiatives. Artful and skillful delegation is the competency that ensures that the link is a strategically strong link. Without delegation, organizations typically suffer from a condition I refer to as ‘management permafrost’. What is ‘management permafrost’? It’s the organizational malady that creates a horizontally-fractured organization. In this fractured organization, leadership and management at the top of the organization are often ‘in the know’ about strategy. Employees are at the bottom of the organization, without the benefit of delegation, frozen out of important information and don’t know how to become the high-functioning, appreciating human assets that will deliver strategically-relevant results. All too often, the delegation structures and practices that should seamlessly align and link the top and bottom of the organization are either non-functioning or non-existent. Leadership, thinking about strategy at the top of the organization, and employees at the bottom of the organization delivering results, are often disconnected.

Leadership and management, using the continually-deployed delegation skills, are responsible for ensuring that the work being delegated into the organization is being met by the most relevantly-trained employees (appreciating human assets) who can predictably meet the business demands through the work deliverable required by strategic initiatives. Delegation is the skill that keeps the organization strategically connected, aligned, linked, relevant and poised for the future. 

Through delegation, invest in an employee now or pay later. 
Beware of human asset strategic consequences.


We invite you to download our latest eBook: "Human Asset Management Strategy: A New Approach", which provides a multifunctional operational guide to human capital capacity planning. You can also schedule a complimentary assessment with a member of our team.

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Topics: Change Management, Human Capital, Human Asset Management

Posted by Joanne Flynn

Joanne Flynn

In 2014, Joanne Flynn founded Phoenix Strategic Performance, a strategic human capital advisory firm. Prior to this, Joanne was Vice President at Goldman Sachs for 10 years responsible for global learning and development. She then led the consulting practice of Phoenix Group International, a consulting firm specializing in global financial service. Joanne is now taking best practices from the people-intensive financial services industry and adapting those best practices to startup and growth businesses. She is a thought leader in the areas of strategic organizational alignment, organizational agility, human capital gap analysis, leadership challenges for the new workplace and transformation leadership.

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