HOW TO ANALYZE YOUR RESPONSIBILITY
Top-down decision-making leads to the delegation of work to subordinate levels. This is natural to hierarchies, but you must decide which decisions to make yourself and which to delegate to others. The best decision-makers share responsibility widely.
Making Your Own Decisions
It is up to you to decide which decisions are yours alone. Assess what decisions your subordinates are capable of taking. If the answer is none, either your assessment of the situation or your recruitment and training must be at fault.
Reserve decisions concerned with these aspects for yourself, and delegate the rest. Retaining a decision does not mean monopolizing the process – staff can participate in the decision making while you continue to have the final choice.
Remember that you remain responsible for the decisions you delegate, so oversee the delegation, particularly in sensitive areas. Use that overview for coaching and monitoring; try to build up the confidence of the people to whom you delegate, maintain a two-way flow of information, and encourage people to develop their own initiative.
Do not second-guess or countermand unless absolutely necessary. Reject a decision only after a full discussion with the person concerned.
Pushing Decisions Down
When analyzing responsibilities, it is clear that those closest to the point of action should also take decisions. For example, mortgage applications are best approved at the branch level, plant modifications are best decided at the factory floor, recruitment is best done by those with whom the recruit will work, and so on.
Information at the sharp end is likely to be specific and up-to-date. Those who have to live with decisions should participate in them. Sending decisions upwards causes delays – the more hierarchical layers there are, the greater the delays. Pushing decisions down pays off in speed and efficiency. Though delegates need to be monitored, they will soon grow into their role.
Delegating Responsibility Downwards
|MANAGING DIRECTOR |
Specifies issue discusses options, passes responsibility downwards
Selects options, get approval from above, passes responsibility downwards
Take responsibility, execute tasks, take decisions, report on outcomes
Avoid clinging possessively to a decision that you have delegated.
Always give your reasons if rejecting a decision made by a delegate.
Build up your trust in the ability of other people to make decisions.