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Effective delegation in an engineering organisation

What is Delegation?:

Pass responsibility to the appropriate person and give them control over their work, reduce interference and empower

Why delegate?:

i)Efficient use of resources and skills

ii)Vital for staff development, motivation and confidence

iii)Reduces staff frustration

iv)Increases your time for essential tasks

v)Reduces your stress

How to Delegate Effectively?

i)Require sound basis:

-Effective organisational structure

-Continuous feedback / communications

-“No blame” culture

ii)As a manager, ask the following questions:

-Is the goal suitable for delegation?

-Is the delegate competent to complete the goal?

-Is the delegate clear of what’s expected of him?

-Are the responsibilities unambiguous?

-Are you making a positive contribution to the results?

-Are the results achievable?


-Continuously analyse, re-delegate and appraise

-Don’t interfere, but listen and give encouragement

-Co-ordinate, set targets or goals, not tasks

-Use of QA

Barriers to Delegation                            Solution

i)Doing it yourself                                Avoid menial tasks

ii)Overburdening staff                         Increase resources

iii)Being inexperienced                         Develop skills

iv)Losing control                                    Regular feedback

v)Dealing with fear,                              Build relationships

        suspicion, insecurities, trust             Communicate well

                                                                      Respect opinions


“Delegation does not relinquish a manager’s responsibility”


The importance of effective communication during the design and construction of civil engineering works

Communication is the transfer of meaning through planned input into a prepared environment.

What needs to be communicated?

i)Your understanding

ii)Problem definition

iii)Contract requirements, responsibilities and obligations

iv)Design interfaces

v)Design problems, issues, ideas, alternatives, solutions

vi)Programme constraints

vii)Cost / financial targets

viii)Commercial priorities

ix)Health & Safety, and Environmental Issues

x)Design requirements (on-site)

xi)Quality requirements (Certification)

xii)Client requirements

xiii)Tasks and goals (delegation)

xiv)Leasderhip vision

xv)Consequences to third parties

xvi)Project performance

Who needs to know?

i)Design Team (inc Delegates)

ii)Joint Venture Parties (Construction managers, programmers)


iv)Third Parties (Utilities, LA’s, emergency services etc)

v)Media (Local press, radio etc)

vi)Public (Property owners, road users)

vii)Support Staff (IT, HR, RMT etc)

viii)Senior Management


Methods of Communications in Civil Engineering


ii)Detailed design drawings and specification

iii)Written (Letters, memo’s, faxes, emails etc)

iv)Telephone, video conference

v)IT (Internet, email, fax)

vi)Meetings or Presentations (formal with minutes / informal)

vii)Programme (Gantt Charts etc)

viii)Health & Safety Plan

ix)Quality Assurance / Certification

5 main types are written, spoken, gestures, images and a combination of these.

Effective Communications:

Soft Skills:

i)Be clear what you want to communicate

ii)Choose the appropriate method (chat or formal report)

iii)Choose the appropriate audience

iv)Recognise cultural and corporate differences (in JV’s)

v)Get the message across (ensure understanding)

vi)Deliver the message (succinct) / take notes

vii)Use Body language and Interpersonal skills (eye contact, rapport etc)

viii)Develop relationships and recognise barriers

Other ways to achieve:

ix)Public relations



xii)Partnering (Egan principles)

xiii)Form of contract (eg NEC) for clarity

xiv)Role of the ICE

xv)Joint ventures

xvi)Whole life approach

Barriers to Communications:

i)Resistance to change

ii)Emotional bias (how we hear what is being said)

iii)Insufficient knowledge / lack of understanding

iv)People see what they want to see

v)The way you talk / sound of voice

vi)Listening, Reading and Memory

vii)Writing (use plain language)

Importance is highlighted by considering the consequences of poor communications:

i)Time / delay (design reworks, missed deadlines)

ii)Money (cost of labour, plant, materials)

iii)Legal (cost of litigation)

iv)Quality (poor methods and materials, does not meet specified requirements or the needs of the Client / Customer)


vi)Civil engineering is labour intensive

joint venture contracts.

Joint Venture Features:

i)A JV is an agreement between 2 or more parties to form a single organisation in order to achieve common goals effectively and indicates a Partnership

ii)No standard form of contract

iii)Sir Michael Latham outlined the benefits of partnering to the Client and Contractor (Improved quality, time of completion, reduced costs through reduced confrontation)

iv)Personal experience in DBFO Contracts

v)JV’s can be integrated (i.e. take equal share of risk and profit) or non-integrated (remain jointly responsible, but take on different roles through separate contracts)


i)Improved quality, time of completion, reduced costs (focus on WLC / best value),

ii)Improved communications,

iii)Reduced confrontation,

iv)Increases competitiveness (potential for more profit),

v)Simpler for Client (one contract),

vi)Risk sharing (financial, overrun, quality).  Risks too great for a single company,

vii)Finance: Larger capital base, potential to borrow more and cheaper. Reduced overheads,

viii)Resources: JV’s can draw on specific expertise, giving technical advantage when tendering,

ix)Collateral Advantage: 1) Higher profile projects won (increased Public / Client awareness = future work), 2) Ability to work in new locations and new areas, 3) Improvements in staff management skills, 4) Staff exposed to wider issues, 5) JV can optimise design to benefit programme, health & safety, buildability, availability of materials.


i)Cultural differences (Language, ethics, behaviour)

ii)Pressure on engineers to consider wider issues,

iii)Old predujices,

iv)Close relationshipd not extended to Client,

v)Procedural (JV organisation, systems, procedures etc may differ from parent company) – Important to develop robust Project Quality Plan to define joint responsibilities / accountability.

vi)Set Up Costs: Can be high for first time JV’s

vii)Mistrust: Fear of the unknown. Sharing of ideas, techniques and technical knowledge.  Team building fundamental to give operative synergy

viii)Personal Aspects: Pay scales, basic hours, overtime etc

ix)Weakened Leadership

Management Challenges:

Commitment and sound procedures required

The merits of an integrated quality, health & safety and environmental management system to meet the needs of the customer:


i)An integrated management system (IMS) is one which combines and effectively controls each managed process in the provision of a product or service

ii)Combines all the principles and good practice of H&S, Q and E issues = customer satisfaction

iii)Generic Parts (Policy, Organisation, Plan, Measuring, Feedback)

iv)H&S Legislation: HSAWA 74, MH&SAW Regs 92, CDM

v)Quality: The ability of a product to carry out its task

vi)Environment & SD


i)Less time consuming to create than 3 separate docs

ii)Audit process easier to follow

iii)Ease of reference

iv)Single points of contact = improved communications

v)Projects aim to reduce cost, improve quality, reduce time etc. IMS can help achieve this

Intetgration of Systems:

i)ACOP to the HSAWR “The arrangements should be integrated with the management systems for all other purposes”

ii)Endorsed by the ICE, provided they are properly developed and expertly audited

electronic information

Communications increasingly electronic:

i)Surveys, drawings

ii)Letters, documents


iv)B of Q

v)Manufacturer and supplier data

vi)QM systems (IDMS)

Implications (+ve)

i)Replication easier (docs and drawings)

ii)Faster document production / distribution

iii)Repeatable calculations

iv)Reduced paper

v)Up-to-date info available (web)

vi)Share systems

Implications (-ve)

i)Nothing gets signed

ii)Potential for editing

iii)Loss of skills in users, lack of checking

iv)Easy to lose data


vi)User skills

See R&D for list of other IT uses.CORE Management Areas