control, and governance
How Do I ... Delegate Effectively?
As internal auditors move up the chain of command, they should learn to lead with delegation. Following seven key steps can help auditors become successful delegators.
1. SHARE RESPONSIBILITIES
The first key to successful delegation is recognizing when to let go rather than trying to do too much. Even though an auditor typically advances to a management position based on past accomplishments, he or she needs to take a broader view of what is best for the internal audit group and the organization. A commitment to delegate can enable audit managers to not only increase their productivity but also gain better control of their lives.
2. CONDUCT A SELF-EXAMINATION
An honest self-examination is a precursor to delegation. Auditors in a management position need to understand their capabilities and role within the organization. One way to do this is by considering:
3. DEVELOP COMPETENCIES
Delegating is more than shoving work on someone who possesses the skill set to fit the task. To the extent possible, an internal auditor should be matched strategically with an assignment that is a bit above his or her head as a way of providing a positive learning experience. Subordinates will struggle at times, but managers can’t be too quick to come to the rescue. Instead, managers should remain confident in the capabilities of their staff and allow reasonable time for learning and growth.
4. ESTABLISH PARAMETERS
Initial parameters need to be established to prevent misunderstandings, deficient productivity, or delays in the timely completion of assignments. All parties involved should have a clear understanding of the assignment and expectations. However, audit managers should refrain from giving excessively detailed instructions.
5. EMPOWER SUBORDINATES
An audit manager should give his or her subordinates authority to operationally pursue their assignment and make decisions as they see fit. In the absence of conferring an appropriate level of authority, the auditor’s performance could be undercut. Also, audit managers should keep an open mind by welcoming new ideas, innovative suggestions, and alternative proposals from others.
6. MAINTAIN COMMUNICATIONS
Communication is an essential element of successful delegating, and regular updates about progress, results, and deadlines should occur weekly — or sometimes daily — depending on the auditor’s level of experience and the type of assignment. Meetings can be conducted face-to-face, by phone, or through videoconferencing and do not always have to be long to be effective.
7. EVALUATE SUBORDINATES
Any significant assignment should culminate with a constructive evaluation of the subordinate’s performance. Often, there is a tendency to view delegation primarily from the front end as a process
of assigning work and subsequent supervising as needed. However, such a narrow view overlooks the importance of an exit session with the subordinate. The exit session could be used to address areas for improvement, possible alternatives or suggestions, and implications for future audit areas in other parts of the organization.
Adapted from "Seven Keys to Effective Delegation," by Frank R. Urbancic (Internal Auditor, "Back to Basics," April 2011).
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