Increase Productivity on Your Dairy By Delegating Authority

Dr. Allen Young

There is never enough time to do everything that needs to be done on a dairy. Even if you cloned yourself, you could probably think of more things to do than are possible. In a sense, delegation is a way of cloning yourself; maybe even improving over the original person if done right.

Delegation sends the message that people who work for you are important and respected. If done properly it can also show that you want to make an investment in improving your employees. It also shows that you trust an employee by giving the person power. Delegation can create an atmosphere of shared vision on your dairy. In order to function properly you should plan on mistakes being made by the employee. If you don�t allow mistakes you will get coverups. Innovation and risk are OK.

Delegation, if done correctly, requires three components. The manager: a) assigns responsibility, b) grants authority, and c) creates accountability. The steps required to delegate are:

1. Explain WHY the job is important;
2. Explain the desired RESULTS;
3. Establish AUTHORITY and GUIDELINES;
4. Set DEADLINES and CHECKPOINTS (ACCOUNTABILITY and CONSEQUENCES);
5. Ask for COMPREHENSION by having employees repeat back instructions in their own words;
6. Ensure adequate RESOURCES;
7. Provide REINFORCEMENT.

Most of the time a manager just tells an employee what to do without explaining why it is important, or even giving the employee a clue about the quality expectations of the job. Telling an employee to �go bed the stalls� leaves a lot of room for misinterpretation. The manager also needs to make sure the employee has the authority and resources to complete the job. It doesn�t help to tell a person to go do a job, then have another manager reassign that person to another job as soon as the first manager leaves. I know employees who cannot fix or buy anything on the dairy without getting permission from the owner. If the job needs to be done, give that person the authority to do it. A common mistake I see with dairy managers is that they mistakenly believe they have �delegated� development of the ration to a nutritional consultant, when they have actually abdicated control. Delegation requires continuing oversight. Are there times not to delegate? Yes. Confidential matters shouldn�t be delegated, and items that you don�t have control over can�t be delegated.

What if the employee can�t handle the problem. Some questions you should ask yourself are:

� Did that person have the necessary training?;
� Were there obstacles that needed to be removed?;
� Was there adequate feedback?;
� What are the consequences if they fail on this project? (Remember the principle that mistakes can be useful to the development of the person, as long as major safety concerns and investments are not compromised).

Some common mistakes that employees make are:

� Don�t ask for enough information;
� Don�t write things down;
� Get frustrated and fail to follow through;
� Don�t ask about authority limits.

Some common mistakes that managers make are:

� Hold on to a project too long;
� Delegate to the wrong person;
� Delegate too much to the same person;
� Don�t give enough information;
� Don�t give enough authority;
� Give too much responsibility (possibly too quickly).

Why would the boss delegate and then micromanage? Some possible reasons are:

� The boss fears that subordinates will out-perform him/her;
� He/she lacks trust in the employee�s ability. (In that case, why did the boss choose to delegate at all?);
� He/she doesn�t take time to explain what is needed in the first place;
� He/she fears that things will go wrong. It seems easier to do it personally than pick up the pieces;
� He/she doesn�t want to give up personal perks;
� He/she doesn�t see a need - think things are going fine.

Delegation initially requires training of employees so that they are able to complete the delegated tasks in a manner consistent with the level of management needed on your dairy. Once trained, the employee becomes a valuable assistant who can free up your time to do other tasks that need to be done. Make full use of your employees. Both you and they will have greater satisfaction and get more done. ©