Delegation by Design

In today’s super-fast, on-the-go, 5G world, we barely find the time to do what needs to be done, let alone what we WANT to get done. We’re just too busy with work, family, friends, pets, etc. The boss wants this, the spouse needs that, and the pets need watering and the plants need to go…no wait…the plants need watering and the pets need to go outside. See? It’s just too much work trying to keep it all in perspective…and on track.

What if I told you there was a way to help balance it all out?

Would you be interested? Let’s hope so. There are a number of ways that you can try to squeeze more into a single 24-hour span, and we’ll discuss some of them in future posts. But for today, let’s focus on just one of them.

Delegation

Delegation is one of the most powerful tools in your leadership toolbox. It is really a double-bladed lightsaber, delivering more time to you and getting more done. Plus, it has a secret bonus effect – it provides growth opportunities for those being delegated to.

So maybe you’re thinking that delegation is too hard or you just don’t know how to do it well. Or perhaps you think that your people will regard this as an act of dumping more work on them. Those are valid concerns, and they all depend on your method of delivery.

Understand that delegation might not be the easiest thing for a manager to do, but it is one of the most rewarding – both for you and your team members. Let’s take a look at the right way to get more done through the assistance of others…in other words, delegation.

There are three steps.

Plan

Ask

Clarify

PLAN  Successful delegation starts with planning. This is the most important step, because without proper planning, your delivery will sound stilted, weak, or authoritarian…and you might delegate the wrong tasks. With that in mind, let’s map out a simple way to prepare for your next delegation opportunity.

  1. Write down all of your current tasks/responsibilities on a sheet of paper. (Yes, write them. On paper. It fosters a more fulfilling, creative, memorable experience.)
  2. Strike through the two or three top jobs you have to do or are most important to your job.
  3. Circle the ones that you can delegate and think about the people who are most able (and likely willing) to do those jobs.

Great! Now you know exactly what tasks to delegate and to whom they should be delegated. So simple, right?

Ok, next step.

ASK  This step can be tricky, because we tend to jump ahead. But ease into the ask and simply ask for help. Resist the temptation to move into the details of the task too soon.

  1. State your need for help. Say something like, “Hey, Ben. I need your help with the Friday reports.”
  2. Explain why you chose them for the task. Say something like, “You’re the best researcher and you have the diligence to get things done on time, every time. And I appreciate that.”
  3. Ask for their acceptance. Say something like, “Would you be willing to help me out with this?”

That’s it. Notice that you didn’t go into detail about the reports or how you want them done. You simply want to put the idea out there and see if you get a bite.

If they do accept the challenge, then you go into clarifying the details of the task. If they don’t accept the challenge, you have a great opportunity to do a little coaching. But let’s assume they accept this new responsibility.

On to Step 3.

CLARIFY  Now is when you get into the details of the task. You want be very clear about these details so your direct report has all the resources and knowledge accessible to be successful at this new task.

  1. Discuss time and quality standards. You need to make sure that your direct report is meeting your standards and you have time to review the work before you need to turn it in.
  2. Implement a follow-up schedule. Follow-up is critical to early success. Do not allow this task to go unchecked for too long. New tasks require lots of immediate feedback, so the direct report feels competent and confident.
  3. Offer assistance. Don’t actually offer to do some of the work; just make sure to provide all necessary resources, whether human or material. And don’t forget to encourage them and tell them you trust they can do this!

Most delegated responsibilities fail
from one of two things:

Lack of clarity

Lack of resources

Don’t torpedo your delegation efforts by not offering enough clarity on the details of the task. Be sure they understand timelines and quality metrics. And be sure to provide plenty of support to ensure a successful outcome.

You want your people to feel empowered and competent at what they do. And since this is a new task/responsibility for them, you need to be there for them.

Using this format will increase you capacity to get more done every day and provide growth opportunities for your staff.

Just remember to PLAN, ASK, and then CLARIFY.

You know the phrase, “practice makes perfect?” Well, it’s a great practice to prepare the words you want to say, and even rehearse out loud. Doing this will help you feel much more comfortable in your next delegation offer.

Now sit down and write out those tasks you know someone else should be doing, figure out who should do them, and then ask them if they want to grow in their role. You got this!

But first, your Mindful Moment:

As a leader, you are always going to be evaluated on how well you delegate tasks to the most economical resource.

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