As promised in my Dec. 19, 2020, article on delegation of responsibilities (see link below), here’s a proven, four-step approach for how to do it. The process consists of task definition, careful selection of the designee, provision of adequate resources, and giving support to the decisions of the designee.
1. Defining the task. The first step requires making clear what results are expected. Where equipment is involved, the ultimate purpose of your endeavors is undoubtedly asset preservation. More specifically, this entails the safe, reliable, and long-term cost-effective implementation of work processes and procedures. For example, delegating the repair of a centrifugal pump would normally require informing the designee as to whether defective parts are to be replaced in kind, or whether component upgrading is desired.
2. Selecting the designee. Effective selection requires knowledge of a person’s competence as well as “people skills.” Where a pure “people situation” is involved, an astute boss informs his stand-in that such issues must be dealt with in a manner that doesn’t compromise ethics and principles. It is equally important to explain to your designee that he must maintain the dignity and self-esteem of others. To do so, the designee must be equitable, balanced and considerate.
Whether dealing with the “hard” equipment issues or “soft” people issues, it is important to define not only the scope of the task, but also what decisions a person is allowed to make and what matters should be referred to someone else. When assigning responsibilities, take care to avoid overlap. When more than one person is assigned the same duties, the outcome may be confusion and hurt feelings. Hence, to determine if one is capable of doing the job at hand, consideration must be given to such factors as personality traits, experience, prior training, and talents.
3. Assigning adequate resources. To complete a delegated task, the person accepting the stand-in assignment will need to have certain resources at his or her disposal. Such resources could include specific documentation, access to other contributors, communications equipment, tools, or funds. When assigning responsibilities, be sure to inform others that the designated individual is acting in your stead. The authority to act in your place is also a resource. Hence, a thoughtful organization communicates these assignments, where appropriate.
4. Supporting the designee’s decisions. While the one assigned to act in your place can now get on with the work at hand, it is well to remember that you can be a real source of encouragement to him if you support the good decisions he has made, or the good results he has achieved. Delegate the task, not how the task is to be carried out. This point is heeded by best-practices companies favoring role statements where lesser performers sometimes rely on elaborate, and often too detailed, job descriptions. Delegating the task, or outlining the role, has often unleashed refreshing creativity and yielded valuable results.
Furthermore, a stand-in contributor with his feet firmly planted on the ground, so to speak, is often closer to a particular situation and thus better understands the problems associated with it. He will likely respond to problems with solutions that really work. He may also be dealing with factors that are not obvious to onlookers.
WORDS TO THE WISE
Be aware that some of the most valuable resources in a plant are the dedicated employees who are willing and able to respond to balanced and thoughtful direction. Try to make optimum use of this most important asset.
Delegating is a sign of maturity and can minimize stress and frustration. Not only will you, as a “delegator,” be able to concentrate on the most important value-added tasks at hand, you also will be providing others the opportunity to gain needed experience. In the end, the future of your organization will be given solid underpinnings, and all parties come out winners.TRR
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Heinz Bloch’s long professional career included assignments as Exxon Chemical’s Regional Machinery Specialist for the United States. A recognized subject-matter-expert on plant equipment and failure avoidance, he is the author of numerous books and articles, and continues to present at technical conferences around the world. Bloch holds B.S. and M.S. degrees in Mechanical Engineering and is an ASME Life Fellow. These days, he’s based near Houston, TX. Email him at email@example.com.
Tags: reliability, availability, maintenance, RAM, asset management, professional development