Delegation: an abused management tool: if, in the past, brigades had sought to evaluate what they (the brigade) got in return for all their investment in management training, then there may have been an indication of why the Service was seen as failing in its approach to management.(Equality And Diversity)

In this period of change that the Fire Service is having to contend with, and it is very much a testing challenge for many, effective management has been cited as both the failing of the past and the saviour of the future. For many years fire service managers have had a range of management theories and practices available to them; from those proffered in the FSC progression courses or the innumerate DMS programmes sponsored by brigades. A significant percentage of those who were exposed to this learning and development chose to cherry pick the elements they opted to apply and the method of application.

Many new or aspiring managers are often advised that the only way to make their workloads manageable is through the process of delegation, but seldom is that process properly illuminated. 1 would argue also that seldom is the process properly understood or applied by its advocates.

When it comes to effective delegation, there are hard and soft rules that should be followed. These rules need to be viewed and applied from the two differing perspectives: those delegating (managers); and those being delegated to (staff members).

The hard rules are those that relate to: What? Who? Why? How? When? These are the fundamental building blocks to all tasks, large or small.

The soft roles are concerned with attitudes, feelings and relationships. These are the things that bring meaning and value to the things we do and require an understanding of human nature. These rules are much harder to learn and put into practice.

With everyone committed to these rules delegated tasks will be completed effectively. But what about job satisfaction, added value and the feelings and emotions of employees?

In exploring the softer skills I would suggest that they have wider implications and effect on performance. These rules are concerned with attitudes, feelings and relationships. They are intangible and may not follow any particular logic but if we get them right they have a marked effect on individual performance and the working environment.

Intangible only in that they do not show up immediately and are not measured in the same way as other skills are Nevertheless they influence the balance sheet, even though they are not recorded as cost or profits.

The rules again need to be addressed in the context of those with supervisory responsibilities (managers) and those doing the doing (stall members). …

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