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The Art of Delegation

Delegation is an art when it is done correctly and not perceived as 'dumping' work on others.  It is also considered a method of rewarding those who have exhibited skill and potential for growth within an organization.  Special projects or jobs can be delegated in an effort to provide the individual with opportunities to learn and demonstrate their abilities to handle more challenging tasks.  One of the key understandings about delegating is that the responsibility is delegated along with the authority to complete the task.  The delegator must monitor how the responsibility is being fulfilled and be available to provide any needed clarifications and support.  Any needed education or preparation for the task should be given to assure the best outcome.  

      BEWARE of reverse delegation!! Those circumstances arise when you are not aware of the fact that you are accepting the delegations of subordinates, which may add to your already large burden of responsibilities. Read about the care and feeding of monkeys, and try to remember to use techniques to keep the monkeys off your back!

     One of the major concerns currently is how to handle delegating to those non-licensed clinical personnel with whom you may be working due to organizational restructuring or budgetary necessity.  Many nurses are worried about increased liability and the negative impact on the quality of patient care.  In an effort to address these concerns, the organization should have: 1) appropriately determined those skills which are able to be delegated to unlicensed assistive personnel (UAP's); 2) prepared them for performing those skills through educational programs; 3) arranged for adequate follow-up clinical supervision to assure their competence prior to allowing them to perform skills independently; 4) monitored outcomes based on staff feedback, incident reporting, surveys/questionnaires of patient satisfaction, etc.; and 5) prepared the professional staff for any role changes or new skills now required of them regarding delegation and monitoring of unlicensed staff.  

     The following is a self-test -- ARE YOU AN EFFECTIVE DELEGATOR?   Here are some indicators by which you can make a rough judgement about whether you are delegating enough and well.


1.  Regularly working long overtime hours?                              YES                NO

2. Unable to move key projects forward to fruition as fast         YES                NO
     as you would like?  

3. Often rushed in meeting deadlines?                                      YES                NO

4. Always busier than the people who work for you?                 YES                NO

5. Doing much of the same kind of work your people are          YES                NO
    doing ?

6. Doing work similar to work you performed before you were   YES                NO

7. So busy you have not planned any new priorities or projects    YES                NO
    for your unit for a long time?

8. Coming back from vacation and finding alot of things on          YES                 NO
    your desk waiting for decisions and action?

9. Unable to identify a subordinate whom you have sufficiently     YES                NO
    brought along that he/she might replace you should you be
    promoted or leave your unit for other reasons?

The more YES answers you have, the more likely it is that you must work at improving your skill in delegation.

Source :  Vicki Lachman, Philadelphia, PA 

Tags of Post: art of delegation, nursing, nurse practitioners, Vicki Lachman

Author: Nurse Practitioners

Published on May 10, 2018


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