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You Are Here: Home - Newsletters - "Get Organized" - Article

Do's And Don'ts Of Delegation


"No man will make a great leader who wants to do it all himself, or to get all the credit for doing it."

- Andrew Carnegie

I'll share some of my own ideas about effective DELEGATION, along with some tips I picked up at a seminar I attended years ago, presented by Dr. Gary Fellows.
SELECT THE RIGHT PERSON FOR THE JOB

You select the delegatee for one of two reasons: either his individual is best QUALIFIED and can deliver the best results…OR…this individual will most BENEFIT from the learning experience of taking on this job. This project will contribute to his/her experience and development, which you (and others) will be able to draw on at a later time.
PROVIDE ENOUGH INFORMATION

Provide the "big picture" so the delegatee can see how the work FITS into the overall operation. Don't hoard information or keep them in the dark. Determine what success looks like so he/she has a clear PICTURE of what you want to accomplish.
POINT OUT THE WIN-WIN

What's in it for him/her? "Having you take this responsibility will allow me more time to focus on ______, and you'll have the OPPORTUNITY to learn more about what's going on outside of our department, which will better position you for that promotion you are working towards."
PROVIDE THE TOOLS

Delegate the entire job to one person and give them full AUTHORITY. This will heighten the individual's interest in the project and provide a deeper sense of accomplishment and satisfaction when the task is completed. Although the ultimate responsibility lies with you, when you delegate something to someone, be sure that others know that you've given the responsibility and authority to that individual, and that they are ACCOUNTABLE for producing the results.
FOCUS ON RESULTS, NOT ON PROCESS

Delegate responsibility, not work. Too many managers confuse delegating responsibility with offloading work onto someone else. When assigning a project, allow the delegatee the freedom to exercise some personal initiative. Focus on WHAT you want, not HOW to do it. Let him/her develop the methodology for how to achieve the goal. Of course, there are exceptions to this. For example, if you work in an industry that requires tight control over certain processes and procedures which must be followed, then the how becomes important. (An example would be how to draw blood at a blood bank. Not following sanitation procedures could create disastrous results.)
DELEGATE THROUGH DIALOGUE

Don't do all the talking, and don't delegate in the hall. Delegate in an environment that is conducive to fully EXPLAINING the project. Minimize interruptions and allow plenty of time for dialogue. Involve the delegatee in the discussion and encourage his/her SUGGESTIONS and comments. Instead of asking "Do you understand?", ask questions such as, "Any ideas as to how you'll proceed?" You'll get a better sense of whether or not your request was clear.
ESTABLISH DEADLINES AND BUILD IN ACCOUNTABILITY

Don't leave due dates uncertain or open-ended. Don't say, "Can you get this to me as soon as possible?" or "Please do this whenever you can get around to it." Be SPECIFIC about when you want it done by. "I trust you to take full responsibility for getting this done. If you foresee any problems or need help, you know how to reach me. Do you see any problem in getting this done by May 31?"
ESTABLISH CHECK-IN DATES

Be aware of the status of the project, but don't hover. Without checking on progress, you have not delegated -- you've abandoned! Keep a delegation LOG to help you track each task you delegate. Ask the delegatee to report PROGRESS on specific check-in dates you've negotiated.
GIVE POSITIVE AND CORRECTIVE FEEDBACK

Do not focus on what is wrong, but rather on what can be done to make it BETTER. "It looks like there's a problem here. What do you need to do to get back on track?"
PROVIDE THE NECESSARY RESOURCES

Point the delegatee in the right DIRECTION if the work involves other people or resources needed to get the job done. "See Jim in Accounting. Sue in Purchasing can provide you with the necessary forms you'll need."
OFFER GUIDANCE AND ADVICE WITHOUT INTERFERING

Point out the ROADBLOCKS they may encounter. "James in Purchasing never checks his e-mail, so it's best to call him for anything you need back in a hurry. You may need to light a fire under Rick in Marketing to keep this project moving forward."
SET UP THE RULES

Establish the parameters, conditions and terms BEFORE you delegate. Don't impose controls after you've delegated. State those up front.
KEEP THE MONKEY ON THEIR BACK

Don't let them delegate back to you. If someone brings a problem to you, you can listen without ASSUMING responsibility for solving the problem. The delegatee may stop you in the hall and ask, "What do you think?" Turn the question around and say, "What do you think?" Or the delegatee may ask if it is possible to delay the deadline for another week. Again, turn the question around and say, "Is it? Will that help us reach our goals?" Or you can ask questions like:
  • What RECOMMENDATIONS do you have for how to handle this situation?


  • Which move do you suggest we go with?


  • What are some feasible ALTERNATIVES?


In other words, don't rescue! In your dialogue, keep the focus on the delegatee and don't let them put the monkey back on you.
PROVIDE SUPPORT WHEN NECESSARY

There's a difference between RESCUING and SUPPORTING. If something is not going well, provide support from behind the scenes, such as placing a discreet phone call to someone involved who is not cooperating with the delegatee. Let them know they don't have to fight their battles alone."
GIVE A PAT ON THE BACK

Give full credit and RECOGNITION to the person who gets the job done. Don't take the credit yourself. If the delegatee is unsuccessful, take the brunt of the blame yourself rather than using him/her as a scapegoat. If the delegatee has not developed their skills fully enough to accomplish the task, you as the manager can assume the RESPONSIBILITY for that. Learn from the experience so you can more effectively delegate the next time.
TAKING THE NEXT STEP

Delegation is a great way to LET GO of some of the things that are cluttering up your life. But what about those things that rob your time that you really cannot delegate to someone else? Perhaps it's time to get the magnifying glass out to search for that hidden CLUTTER.

 

Kathy Paauw is an organizing and productivity consultant, certified professional and personal coach, and speaker. Visit her website at www.orgcoach.net or contact her at .


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