When a project manager, or any manager for that matter, delegates a task to an employee, they so frequently assume that this means they (the manager) have no further responsibility for ensuring that task is completed accurately and on time.
This could not be further from the truth and is, in itself, one of the biggest causes of projects not being delivered accurately, on time and without significant issues.
Delegation doesn’t mean you pass on responsibility.
At every point in the delivery cycle, the people involved need to ensure that they maintain their own responsibility for every part of the project that they come into contact with. So for example, if a manager gives you a task to do then it is (fairly obviously) your job to do that task and report back to the manager when it is done or if you have any problems along the way.
Managers however are also responsible and accountable for tasks that they give other people to do. It is not sufficient for a manager to give out a task and then fail to follow up on task progress. It is important for managers to keep a constant eye on all the tasks they have delegated, on a regular basis. Simply checking if a task has been completed at the time it is supposed to be completed, means that the manager would miss any early warning signs that may otherwise have helped keep the project on track.
For example, if a manager gives out 300 tasks to a range of people and 100 of them are due to be completed in a month, then after 30 days checks with all the resources who are responsible for the 100 tasks and discovers that 50 of them are not finished yet, suddenly there is (an avoidable) problem.
If the manager were to check daily, or weekly with the resources to ensure that the tasks were on track, then they would find out about any that were not on track and be able to take corrective action, early and before any deadlines arrive.
Keeping track of tasks in such a manor is however tricky to do, especially in a less formal environment. OK, if you have a full project plan, then you can print reports and have a meeting to go through the task list with each of your resources. However this is time consuming and does not address less formal delegation methods. For example, if you are simply sending emails every so often to staff members then it is less easy to keep tabs on the tasks.
Using a free, automated task tracking application such as http://MyTask.cc
can help with that. You simply CC any emails in which you ask someone to execute a task to track@MyTask.cc and the system will keep an eye on the tasks from that point onwards.
Every day it will email you a fresh list of all the tasks you have asked staff to do, allowing you to easily contact each member of staff and check on progress at an appropriate frequency. Also it will email your staff with their ToDo list daily, so nothing falls between the cracks so to speak!