Delegation or the lack of it is a key reason as to why many of us struggle to get the most out of our day. Why is that? Well, when you ask most people why they don’t delegate, this is what they usually say.
It’s faster to do a task myself
If I have to spend time showing them how it is done I may just as well do it myself.
This is short term thinking. Saying this myth to yourself for any longer than two weeks turns an emergency situation into the status quo that permanently limits growth.
It’s a scary thing handing over part of your work completely, with full authority to someone else. If they mess it up, you get the blame. But if they do a great job, you get the praise, but may be annoyed that they do it better than you.
If you think you might be delegating but are unsure, then the Six levels of delegation may be a useful tool for you. It details the levels of delegation we can use, the impact on our time and the impact on control. There is also an exercise to complete that can assist you in thinking of what to delegate.
How do we go about delegating?
In the terms of Situational Leadership, the employee you want to delegate to needs to be a ‘self-reliant achiever’ that has both the confidence and competence to achieve the task set for them.
Once that has been established, I then recommend that you follow this six step process
The Six Steps to Delegation
Walking through this process becomes faster and easier the more you do it.
Your people can't deliver results successfully if the task delegated to them isn't fully thought out or the result is a moving target. Take the time to know exactly what you want - as with everything to do with Time Management, planning is key. It helps if they have a result to achieve, as opposed to just tasks.
Hand over the deliverable with:
- Context to enhance understanding
- Tips and coaching while making it clear to them that they own the process
- Expectations for communication and updates: frequency, content, in person or via email, etc.
- An open door policy for the employee to ask questions
One of the most critical areas where delegating tends to fall apart is when an assumption is made that the other person understands what we mean. Confirming understanding is a process that takes about 60 seconds and can determine the success or failure of delegation more than any other step in the process.
- Have the employee paraphrase the deliverable you've assigned in their own words.
- Be up front about the process of delegating. This is simply a step that helps you both be certain there is clear understanding.
- Replace the phrase, "What did I just tell you?" with “How would you explain this task to a fellow employee?”
- Ask employees if they feel they have the tools and resources to be successful
- Ask questions to make sure employees understand what the task will require
Commitment is another area that most managers tend to skip in the delegation process. If you have picked the self-reliant achiever, you’re half way there. However, commitment is needed from you to ensure they are fully trained in order to deliver. This takes time initially, however, in the long run, you will save time.
Avoiding “Delegating Back”
When an employee has an issue, or comes up against a problem, you need to coach them through it, but let them do their job. Don't take tasks back.
Communication in delegation is key. Finding out that a deliverable wasn't completed or wasn't done satisfactorily after the completion date is not what you want to happen. Accountability is actually the act of giving a report on progress.
If you have never delegated before it may sound scary, however, you will be amazed how your people will want to take on the work and will do it well. Yes, there is the initial extra time and commitment on your part, but I promise you it will save you time in the long run. So, next time you are having a one to one with one of your people, talk about it.
Interested in finding out more about how to improve the time management of your people? Contact us today to discuss what options are available to you and how we can help.
Annette Quinn, Performance Management Facilitator
In my series of blogs I will be taking a look at performance management, in particular Time Management, and providing tips on how to develop your skills.
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