Friday, August 29, 2008

Delegation in a School

Unit 5

As a head, you are expected to manage the school through your own work, the work of other teachers, staff and even pupils. You may have heard of sayings like “Many heads are better than one”, “Many hands make light work”, etc. and certainly as a manager of a school you cannot achieve your goals and objectives if you do all the tasks alone. In other words, you cannot teach all the subjects in the school, head all the departments, be on duty every day of the week, deal with all the correspondence and discipline cases, be in charge of all the clubs and so on. You will need to use the talents of the teachers who work with you, not fearing that they will take over from you, but rather trusting them and having confidence in them. Moreover, making use of even the most critical or uncooperative members of your staff may result in their trusting you and feeling more motivated and needed. By doing the above you will actually be delegating responsibilities and duties to your teachers, and in this unit we will explore further the delegation process, considering its importance and the barriers to its effectiveness.

Individual study time: 2 hours

Learning outcomes
After working through this unit you should be able to:
¨ understand the importance of delegation, and outline the key principles and procedures involved in delegation
¨ direct, support, develop and motivate the staff working in your school by giving them responsibilities, duties and tasks that are appropriate to their talents, abilities and capabilities
¨ build a team amongst your teachers through sharing the school workload by more effective delegation
¨ improve your own managerial performance by alleviating pressures in your time and improving the flow of work in school.

What is delegation?
Delegation is a process by which managers, such as school heads, transfer part of their authority to their colleagues, for the performance of certain tasks and responsibilities. By assigning tasks to them to perform on your behalf, you can enable the decentralisation of authority or office functions, the sharing of duties/tasks within the school and the grouping of duties into departments with group heads for easier management. Since delegation can take place at all levels of management, department heads themselves may also become involved in delegation.

The importance of delegation

Activity 5.1
1) Think back over your work for the past few months and make a note of any tasks and responsibilities which you delegated to a colleague or which were delegated to you. Why did you do this?
2) List some of the factors to be taken into account to ensure effective delegation.

You will probably have given a variety of reasons for delegating the tasks you did, including such things as improving the flow of work and the management of your own time.

There is in some ways a conflict. Often peoiple say “I can do it better myself” or “It will take too long to explain” or “I can do it faster myself”. This may be true but how will colleagues learn to do it as well and as quickly as you when they are not given the opportunity to practice thew skills?

The following summary highlights the importance of delegation in schools:

¨ In a school of 1,000 learners and 60 teachers the head cannot control every activity.
¨ There is a physical and mental limit to the workload capacity of any individual or group in authority.
¨ Delegation gives time to the head to concentrate on other important matters.
¨ It is a way of preparing your colleagues to handle higher and more challenging responsibilities in future, therefore a way of training and developing them.
¨ It creates confidence in your colleagues.
¨ It encourages co‑operation and team work and thus colleagues feel part and parcel of the successes or failures of the school.
¨ As a school grows more specialisation in leadership, management and teaching areas is necessary.

Delegation is an act of trust and an expression of confidence of the leader in the colleague. It is one of the most important methods of creating and maintaining democracy in schools. What then are some of the factors which need to be taken into consideration to ensure effective delegation of tasks? They include:

¨ delegating authority with responsibility ‑ remember you remain accountable for the responsibilities delegated
¨ delegated responsibilities must be clear, specific and effectively communicated
¨ delegating authority with enough responsibility.

Determination of the right degree of delegation is part of the art of leadership. Effective delegation means delegating the right amount of authority and the right kind of duties. There will always be some tasks which should not be delegated at all. Let us summarise some of the key principles and procedures of delegation:

Principles and procedures of delegation
¨ Select the person to delegate to, on the basis of a sound knowledge of staff members in terms of their varying levels of competence, commitment and capability.
¨ The nature and scope of the work to be delegated must be clearly defined and be for the benefit of the organisation as a whole.
¨ Delegated tasks must be clearly described.
¨ The person to whom a task is assigned must be capable of carrying out the task or duty to the best of his/her ability and willing to take responsibility.
¨ Mutual co‑operation, understanding and faith between the manager and staff members is of the utmost importance to enable delegation to be successful.
¨ Some form of regular reporting to provide a means of progress control is required.
¨ Reward successful achievement of delegated tasks.

Barriers to effective delegation
Some managers are reluctant to delegate. They may choose not to delegate tasks feeling that they can do better than anybody else. They may feel that it will take too long a time to explain to the colleague undertaking the assignment. Such feelings may be contributed by concerns such as:

Insecurity: Where the leader is not ready to take chances/risks or fears that the colleague may let him down.

Loss of power: If the colleague does the task very well or even better than the leader would have done it.

Failure to plan ahead: This makes it difficult to decide which task to delegate and to whom and when.

Some colleagues are reluctant to accept responsibility due to insecurity. They wish their bosses to make decisions for fear of being held responsible for any failure. They may also feel that they are not given enough incentives and are not given proper guidance and support by the manager. Adequate means of communication may not be available to the delegatee for consultation with the manager if necessary.

Are you a good delegator?
A good delegator is one who stimulates and motivates colleagues to undertake duties and responsibilities delegated to them by:

¨ clearly indicating the standard of performance expected, time limit and any other conditions involved
¨ giving the delegatee a chance to perform the given task without undue interference
¨ appreciating the efforts the delegatee has made, and assisting whenever assistance is needed
¨ learning to accept that some delegated duties may not be done as perfectly as they would by oneself
¨ making use of the mistakes made to develop rather than to ridicule and threaten the delegatee: however, the delegator should make sure that the mistakes made will not endanger the institution.

How well do you stand up against these criteria?

Activity 5.2
1) Refer back to your responses to the questions raised in Activity 5.1, and taking each delegation act in turn, try to draw up an account of how effective you were as a delegator. You could use the above criteria to judge your performance in each case of delegation.
2) Are there other tasks and responsibilities which you could be delegating?
3) Draw up a brief plan of action for improving your performance in delegation.

We hope you will have found the activity useful as a means of reviewing your own performance in delegation and encouraging you to consider how you may ensure more effective delegation in the future. There are of course many tasks which a school head can delegate. Equally, there will be some which cannot be delegated. Much will depend on the rules, regulations and practices which pertain in Guyana. However, in general, the school head can delegate almost all the tasks except:

¨ finances: for example, authority to spend. However, the day to day work of accounting can be done by another and approved by the head.
¨ admission of new pupils into the school. Likewise the head must give final approval
¨ final decision making on policy issues and changes in the school
¨ assigning of duties to the Deputy Head and senior teachers
¨ final responsibility on examinations

In this unit we have examined the concept of delegation, the importance of delegation and some of the key principles of delegation. We have encour­aged you to consider how you might improve your own performance of this crucial leadership function, to enable you to build a team amongst teachers through the sharing of the workload of the school.

Remember that” building teams” and “empowering them” is one of the key functions of a leader.

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