A Handy Little Guide to Getting Things Done
I recently shocked a client because I asked her to delegate everything. She gasped. She resisted and said it was impossible.
And I responded: “Your life depends on it.”
Delegation is essential to getting anything done as a leader. You simply can’t do everything yourself. Agreed?
So, what about you? How good are your delegation skills? Do you think you have mastered this basic leadership skill?
Maybe you won’t tell me you don’t know how to delegate. But you will say that Jo Smith is not performing at the level desired. You are wondering what to do. You are desperately trying to change his behavior. You are even considering terminating the engagement. You are quick to judge and are trying to find out what’s wrong with him.
Most likely you forgot a crucial step to effective delegation, resulting in frustration and poor execution. It’s like a muscle you can train. If you’re wondering why you should go back to the
basics and take a look at your delegation skills, I’ll tell you. Not only will you become a better leader, but it:
• Gives you more time
• Helps you focus on what’s most important
• Allows your people to grow in capability and confidence
• Allows you to develop, coach and mentor your people
• Creates opportunities to provide recognition
• Allows for clear documentation of poor performance
• Ensures successful results
There are six simple steps for successful and effective delegation. As you read through them, think of a recent example of when you delegated something and didn’t receive the desired result. Which step was missed?
Six Steps to Effective Delegation
1) Prepare beforehand
Clearly define and describe each task. If you are not clear on what the task is, how can you possibly describe it successfully to someone else? Clarity will save you time and money.
2) What and why?
When you communicate the task to someone else, be specific about what your expectation is and why it is important to have it done. Without the what, the person won’t know what he is supposed to accomplish. And without the why there is no reason to do the task in the first place. People want to know why something is important for them to spend time on. Don’t assume the person knows. Most likely he doesn’t.
3) Ask for expectation to be repeated back
Once you have communicated the ‘what’ and ‘why’ you are only halfway done. You have only done one-way communication. But communication is two-way. It is crucial for the person to feed back to you what he understood the task to be. This is a great time to fine tune and gain clarity on both sides.
4) Clearly define the time frame
You can request the task be urgent or not. Just make sure not everything is urgent. Help the person to prioritize what is most important. Once you request a certain time frame within which a task is to be completed, the person has a choice to agree, disagree or deny the task altogether. There is no point in dumping tasks onto others that are impossible to accomplish given the time frame or other responsibilities.
5) Define the level of authority along with the task
Empower the other by communicating what level of authority comes with the task:
a) Authority to recommend
– Propose best alternative, when you need input before making a decision
b) Authority to inform and initiate
– Provide options and best course of action, when you want someone to inform you before taking action so you can intercept
c) Authority to act
– Provide full authority to act, when you are confident in the person’s capability and the risk is minimal
6) Set up check-in meetings
Schedule early and regular meetings to hear what’s happening and to offer guidance if necessary.
Conclude the delegation process with a debriefing session to discuss what went well, what could have been improved, what has been learned.
Now that you have a simple six-step process to effective delegation, let’s look at who you can delegate to. The immediate answer will be the employees reporting to you. But there are so many more:
• Other departments
• Outside vendors
• Public officials
• Virtual assistants
• Personal assistants
• Personal trainers
• CPAs/Financial advisors
“Delegate everything” – Daniela Bryan
What task are you holding onto that you could delegate and make your life easier? Who can you delegate to that you hadn’t considered ever before? What step of the six-step process are you typically neglecting?
Send me an email and let me know at firstname.lastname@example.org. Your life depends on it.
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