Thursday, November 18, 2010

Delegation – knowing what to delegate

Delegation is a skill of which we have all heard - but which few understand. It can be used either as an excuse for dumping failure onto the shoulders of subordinates, or as a dynamic tool for motivating and training your team to realize their full potential.
(Palsgrave 1530)

Delegation is a 5 step process.

  1. You have to know what it is you want to delegate (what is the job?)
  2. You have to know who to delegate to (who can do the job?)
  3. You have to dare to let go of the task (do I trust anyone else to do this?)
  4. You have to be able to specify what your expected result is (what is the product?)
  5. You have to ensure that the result is acceptable afterwards (Is this good enough?)

Today, let us look at what you can or cannot delegate.

You cannot delegate the accountability for the task. Accountability stays with you, but you can delegate the responsibility and authority to do the job.

You cannot delegate personnel tasks like motivation, praising, reprimanding, performance reviews and promotion.

Look at the task that you did before you got promoted. These are probably easiest to delegate, since you know that people in your former job (you) were able to do them. And you know how to describe the job.

Look for task that will motivate the person doing it. Look for decisions that can be taken by someone else than you. Yes, it is possible (and recommended) to delegate decisions.

Make sure you empower the person with enough authority to actually do the job their way.

Simple example: Telling someone to check all printers for ink every Friday will ensure that every printer is checked every Friday.
Delegating to someone the task of making sure the printers don’t run out of ink will enable this person to find a way to make sure that the printers are filled up when they need ink.

Look for opportunities to delegate task that will develop the person. If you give someone a “wow” task that they may get overwhelmed by – make sure you support them and let them gradually “take over”.

Look carefully at the “boring” tasks that you feel are easy to delegate. Distribute them evenly in your group and then sprinkle the exciting tasks around. Talk to your people about what they want. You may be surprised about who wants to do what. You really want to use this to motivate your people.

Look for more opportunities to delegate. Look at the task you are doing. Do you have to do them? Can some of your people do them? Would it be possible for someone else to do it? If you delegate more, you will be able to spend more time leading and coaching your people.

Imagine: when a new task came in the door you always asked: “Who else can do this?”

Next time: Who can I delegate to?

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