“The best executive is the one who has sense enough to pick good men to do what he wants done, and self-restraint enough to keep from meddling with them while they do it.” – Theodore Roosevelt
One of the major reason’s managers fail to meet expectations is that they attempt to do everything themselves. There is never enough time. There is no such thing as a team of “me.” And someday you will want to take a much-deserved vacation untethered from the office.
Yes, you need to delegate.
It may seem easier or more reliable to do it yourself than to take the time to delegate to the team members you manage. That stance puts you in a position of always having to be available. More importantly, you are not being fair to yourself, your team, or your employer.
Delegation develops. Delegation motivates. Effective delegation can move mountains!
I believe that the reason managers fail to delegate effectively is that they have not yet developed the skills, or the necessary confidence.
How do you effectively delegate?
Start and end with communication to increase your chance of an effective delegation.
- What you need
- Why you need it
- How you need it
- When you need it
- Where you need to be involved
Be clear on expectations and then get out of the way! Or in the words of Teddy Roosevelt – don’t meddle!
Let’s talk about a potential real-life example.
The CEO is concerned with the ever growing IT spend. He and the CFO ask you, the IT department head, to clarify your department expense spend to date and provide end of fiscal year projections. Also, you have been asked to compare your departments spend against industry benchmarks. Your response to this request is to “delegate” the research and report to the head of your IT Finance function.
To effectively delegate this important task, you would first clarify the outcome expected by the CEO and CFO. It is assumed that you understand their preference for receiving information based on your prior working relationship and the company culture. At the same time, you need to be specific as to what you will be delivering. The best approach I have found is to outline your understanding, the approach, and the description of the output. Upon concurrence, use the same outline to delegate to a trusted team member. Use it to describe WHAT you need, WHY it is needed, HOW you expect it to be delivered, WHEN it is due, and WHERE you want checkpoints along the way.
Let’s step through the conversation.
- WHAT – Delegate as much as you can along with authority to achieve the outcome. Don’t pretend to delegate if you must retain all decision authority! Be real with yourself as to why you are retaining decision authority. Is it risk management? Do you have confidence in your team member or are afraid
to let go?
- WHY – Explain the reasons for the report and the objectives and outcomes needed from the effort. Be clear as to the confidentiality of the exercise (i.e. discuss messaging in communicating with others).
- HOW – Attempt to leave room for creativity related to how the report needs to look. Be open to suggestions if you were given a pre-defined report format. There is nothing more demotivating than to have all creativity removed from a task.
- WHEN – When is the report due, when do you want the first draft, final draft, and pre-reads to be delivered? Seek honest feedback to the viability of meeting the timelines and be prepared to work out alternatives.
- WHERE – Negotiate with your delegate regarding where you should reconvene to discuss progress. Delegation does not mean you can abdicate your obligation. Only you can determine the situation and level of confidence in both the delegates’ ability to deliver on your expectation and to manage accordingly.
Wrap up the conversation by asking the delegate to recap while reiterating your confidence in him or her. Assure them that no question is a bad question and that your door is open if anything that risks the deliverable comes up. Be available. Be accountable. Give credit to the team member by having them deliver the report, if, you stand behind its outcome.
There is never any guarantee when you rely on someone other than yourself but, through clarity and communication, you will improve the chance of a great outcome! Even more rewarding is a team member who feels good about their performance and that will have the experience the next time effective delegation is needed.
What are your challenges with delegation?
Until next time, have an effective week! To further this week’s conversation, schedule time with me and let’s talk!
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