Sane Delegation

I’ve just completed a couple of days helping a group of managers become more effective leaders. Again I realized how difficult it is even for seasoned and capable people to delegate, and how, when they do so, the process often goes awry.

So below are some tools for delegation that maintains the sanity of all involved, avoids micromanaging, and definitely curtails the habitual “it’s easier to do it myself” approach.

Oddly enough, the principles of successful delegation apply equally well at work and at home….. with your partner, kids, whatever!

There are two stages to any good delegation: the Set-Up phase (where you set up the assignment), and the Execution phase.In the Set-Up phase, ensure that you free up time for the conversation. Make it a focused discussion, not an on-the-fly process. I promise you this: attention at this stage will pay off in spades later. Consider doing the following:

  1. Contextualize. Relay why this job is important and how it fits in the larger scheme of things.
  2. Define the Results. What’s to be done & when. Focus on WHAT, not HOW.
  3. Specify Resources. The resources (technical, human, financial, training) that the person can access while executing the job.
  4. Parameters. Convey limitations and potential hazards that may impede success.
  5. Set Standards. The standards that will be used to measure success.
  6. Define support. When and how you will be available to support the person and when are the expected check-in points.
  7. Negotiate. Adjust the above based on person’s feedback.
  8. Get commitment. Ensure understanding, confirm expectations.

In the Execution phase:

  1. Follow up. See how things are going, at the times defined in the plan. If you over-do it, you’re micromanaging.
  2. Evaluate and correct. Make necessary modifications and offer suggestions as needed.
  3. Cheerlead. Express satisfaction and demonstrate appreciation for a job well done, even when not yet complete.
  4. Reward.  And do so both  publicly and privately.
  5. Good luck!

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