When you delegate effectively you take your enterprise with you. Out of the wilderness of work overload (for you, but under-load and disengagement for others) and into the promised land of productivity… Your own, AND the rest of your team’s. It’s an epic, virtuous circle journey, which never actually ends, but does go through 4 stages.
Please note while this is written to be about delegating within your organization, the process applies equally to outsourcing.
1. PREPARE TO DELEGATE:
At PBC, we put great value on DiSC analysis. DiSC helps us better understand our instincts when it comes to delegating, and those of our teams. People’s styles are a good indicator, for example, if they are suited to doing that detailed desk job or this speaking engagement. Not as a go-no-go test, rather as recognition of extra support needed and for giving your team more options for self-organizing. It’s also about understanding the strengths and passions of individual team members. To empower them to work in their “Zone of Leadership” – the intersection of strengths and passions – and they may do the job even better than you may, and certainly more cost effectively.
Make detailed analyses of the tasks you plan to delegate. Checklists of skills, resources, and actions necessary to do the task, as you do it now. Remember! Time is the most important of all resources! With every job you do, ask yourself, “am I the only person who can do this? Could anyone else do this even if it takes him or her longer and they are not as good at it? But would that be more cost effective than me?” Have no fear that the quality of work may suffer. Because, if you follow this systematic delegation process, things can only get better. Oh and don’t just hand off the dull stuff either. It is the stretch exercises that often help our teams improve and stay engaged. Effective delegation is a ‘win-win’ solution.
2. PLAN THE DELEGATION DISCUSSION:
Rehearse what you are going to say to open your delegation discussion. Be sure to say what you want to achieve and why it’s important in the context of your Vision. Share your rationale for choosing to delegate this task to this individual. Having opened the discussion, go on to clarifying the task details from your checklist and ask open questions to discover how that person feels about achieving the task. Some things to consider:
How many hours does the task take? When does it have to be done? What are the deadlines?
What special skills, knowledge, and contacts are involved? Do any of your candidates already have the necessary skills or do they need training, coaching, or just occasional support?
How will new responsibilities affect their current work schedule? Do they perhaps need to delegate something of their workload in order to make time for their new responsibilities? Never assume you know this stuff. It’s always best to ask.
How will this new responsibility be incorporated in the person’s performance review? How will you recognize good performance?
3. DELEGATION DISCUSSION: Introduce the discussion with what your delegation is all about and why it’s important, as you rehearsed it. Then discuss each aspect of the task in turn covering 3 items; 1) Clarify details and ask the person how they feel about it. 2) Develop a plan with, who will do what and by when. 3) Agree on SMART objectives. Remember what gets measured gets done. Cycle around these 3 items, for each aspect of the task, as often as you need to make the person comfortable in taking on the new task.
Summarize the discussion of what has been agreed and express your confidence in the person’s ability to do the task well. Schedule the next review session.
4. ONGOING PERFORMANCE DISCUSSIONS: Management by abdication rather than systemized delegation is a key factor behind employee disengagement. Think for a moment how Harry, your accountant, feels when you hand him your books and run! It is vital to keep your side of the agreements made in all your delegation discussions and to keep in touch with the person as they grow into the job. You will be delighted by what new ideas and innovations people can come up with, given the opportunity. After all, the person doing the job knows it best.
Regular readers of my newsletters will not be surprised that at PBC, we recommend a systematic approach to delegation. If someone else can do a job, say 90% as good as you, then train them, support them and get out of their way. Delegation is a vital entrepreneurial skill that can be learned and practiced, so that you get to work ON your business rather than in it.
We have only outlined key areas here. For more information, contact us at PBC.
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This originally appeared in my May 2015 Newsletter.