Development teams usually work at a face pace, making IT managers deal with all sorts of problems. When teams grow and have more projects on their plate, managers can no longer keep up on top of everything. This is when they need to start to delegate authority to other team members to make the workflow more efficient.
Without delegation, managers slow their team down, and consequently, projects are at risk of being unsuccessful.
However, delegating authority in dev teams is challenging. How to make sure the next leader you choose will do a great job? What if they mess up everything?
What is Delegation of Authority?
When we have too many things in our mind it is easy to mess up. Has it ever happened to you that you were busy trying to do 100 things at the same time while working, and suddenly you lost the pen you were using? You’re desperately trying to find it, and then Bob comes to your office, and he tells you, ‘’Hey, you’re holding it in your hand,’’ making you feel like an idiot.
When we want to be on top of everything, ensuring that projects are running the way they are supposed to, that teams are performing effectively, we are at risk of overlooking important details. This is when we need Bob’s in the team to help solve those details that save us time and energy.
The delegation of authority is an organizational process where the manager divides their work among the subordinates and gives them the responsibility to accomplish the respective tasks.
In software teams, managers delegate authority when they decide to leave certain team members on top of specific processes and responsibilities.
Delegation In Virtual Software Teams
A study conducted by different universities in the U.S. and Ireland called “Leader Delegation in Global Software Teams: Occurrence and Effects” reveals that the main difficulty that leaders from virtual software teams have is to know when and how they should delegate authority and responsibility to the team.
The study uses a multi-method approach to examine leader delegation in global software teams by conducting a survey and several interviews with software development teams in a Fortune 100 software development and service company with more than 350,000 employees worldwide. The online survey was distributed to 150 employees located in Ireland, United States, India, and China.
One of the main findings suggests that leaders are more likely to delegate authority when they perceive employees feel capable of assuming new responsibilities. When employees have a self-concept of readiness and leadership capacity, the odds are higher for leaders to choose these employees and give them the authority to take on new responsibilities.
On the other hand, when the employee’s self-concept is negative, delegation’s effects may be less beneficial. Therefore, delegation in virtual teams is successful when leaders make sure to understand what self-concept the employee has before delegating.
How to Delegate Responsibilities to Your Development Team
How to perceive a developer’s self-concept? Will they be successful at delegating other IT tasks? What if they mess up everything and you need to pick up the pieces?
So many questions and doubts appear when leaders start considering delegating authority to other employees – Especially in IT teams where time management is essential – Their inner micromanager appears, and then suddenly, they feel it’s unnecessary to delegate power to another team member.
The results? More stress, slower projects, and overall inefficiency in the team’s performance.
However, suppose a leader chooses to delegate authority to a team member (or members). In that case, they’ll have more time to solve critical issues. They will also help team members become leaders and they will increase their chances of growing into a bigger role. Sounds good, right?
5 Tips to Delegate Authority in Your Dev Team
#1: Evaluate the Level of Expertise
If you have several management responsibilities to delegate, your first step should be evaluating the level of expertise that different team members have to make sure they can assume them. Ask yourself:
- Does this developer has the necessary experience to take on these responsibilities?
- Do they have leadership skills?
- Do I feel comfortable delegating these tasks to them?
The level of expertise doesn’t necessarily relate to the technical abilities and the knowledge they have. It’s important that they are talented in what they do, but they should also have soft skills to succeed with their new tasks.
For example, if you have a team of developers, you might have John, a coding master that hates talking to people. On the other hand, you have Jack, who is not as talented as John but is still an expert in his area and has great people skills making him a great option.
#2: Make Sure You Trust the Team Member
If you’re ready to pass the torch to someone else in your team, make sure you trust them. When you trust a team member, you know they’ll do a great job. Therefore you won’t feel this constant need to check constantly on them.
The idea of authority delegation is to be able to focus on more important things. However, if you don’t trust your team member, this entire process will feel like taking another task and burden.
Usually, when leaders delegate responsibilities and authority to team members, they have worked with them long enough to know they have what it takes. Also, keep in mind that coaching and supervision will be necessary during the first months, not as a micromanaging strategy, but to make sure the team member understands their new role.
#3: Start Small, Go Big
If you give an entire project to the team member, they’ll probably get overwhelmed. Large projects aren’t easy to manage, especially when you just started assuming this responsibility. So instead of giving them a whole chunk of responsibilities, start small.
Before a project starts, break it down into smaller pieces and goals. And be clear regarding your expectations for them. This way, they will have a clear panorama on what to do and how to do it.
As time passes by, you’ll be able to give them more and more responsibilities, and eventually, they’ll be able to take on a project without your constant supervision.
#4: Build a Process for Authority Delegation
When you’re delegating tasks, your new leader will have to take on a lot of things. So, instead of having a meeting and extensively explain them all of what they have to do, it’s better to create a process with the necessary documentation.
This means make sure to explain clearly what their new responsibility will be and the process you had when making it.
For example, imagine that you’re a chef. You were in charge of decorating the desserts, but now you’re going to take over the creative process of all the restaurant’s dishes, so you need someone to decorate the desserts. Instead of explaining everything all at once, write it down. Be detailed and have all the processes documented. That way, the new person in charge will know exactly what chocolate dessert goes with sea salt and what other dessert with powdered sugar. And if they have a doubt, they can always go back to the documentation.
#5: Have Regular Feedback Meetings
1:1 meetings are a great way to understand how your new leader is handling their new responsibilities. If you have noticed something you don’t like or something you think they can improve, it’s a great space to talk about that.
In the process of delegating authority, you’ll likely be learning new things about the team member you might haven’t noticed before. They will also experience greater challenges, and as the leader is your job to help them overcome the challenges and difficulties they are facing.
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