“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
Why do you need to be skilled at delegation? One of the major reasons 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. 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 being available. More important you are not doing being fair to yourself, you 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 developed the skills needed.
How do you effectively motivate? Start and end with communication to increase your chance of an effective delegation.
Communicate what you need, why you need it, how you need it, when you need it and 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. They ask you, the CIO, to clarify your department expense spend to date and provide end of fiscal year projections. In addition, you have been asked to compare your departments spend against industry benchmarks. Your response to this their request is to “delegate” the research and report to the head of your IT Finance function.
Effective delegation of this important task is to first clarify the outcome expected by the CEO and CFO. It is assumed you understand their preference for receiving information based on your prior working relationship and 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, approach, and description of the output.
Once concurrence is met 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 to checkpoint along the way. Let’s step through the conversation.
- WHAT - Delegate as much as you can along with the authority to achieve the outcome. Don’t pretend to delegate if you must retain all decision authority! Be real with your self 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 to the point of discussing messaging in communicating to others.
- HOW - Attempt to leave room for creativity as to how the report needs to look. Be open to suggestion 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 as to 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 delegate ability to deliver on your expectation and manage accordingly.
Wrap up the conversation by asking the delegate to recap along with reiterating your confidence in him or her, assurance 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.
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!
Share you experience and lessons learned!
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