If you are:

  • Working longer hours than your staff;
  • Doing work assigned to your staff;
  • Not getting your top-priority items done;
  • Regularly being interrupted by staff needing info or decisions;
  • Consistently rushing to meet deadlines;
  • Handing off tasks at the last minute;

Then you might be a Dumper!

Why don’t managers delegate? The benefits have long been documented:

  • Frees up your time to do your top-priority items
  • Extends the results beyond your limits
  • Speeds up decisions
  • Develops others on your team
  • Helps retain your best staff

Many times “Delegating” becomes “Dumping” as in this 1st animated video situation where a manager has become overwhelmed and decided NOW is the time to shed some of the workload.

Did you relate to this situation or have a “Deja Vu” moment? The chances of this “delegation” being successful are slim to none. The likely fallout will be the manager redoing the work product, not delegating again and remaining a bottleneck. The team member will likely take less initiative in the future knowing his work product will be redone, and therefore the situation becomes a Catch 22.

So how do you get from “Dumping” to “Effective Delegation”?

Let’s look at the same project situation in a 2nd video animation and how the delegation should have been handled and then review six steps to effective delegation.

Six Steps to Effective Delegation

Step 1 – Choose a Capable Person – There has to be a trust level in the basic abilities, knowledge and experience of the person for the delegation to be successful. In the video situation the team member has already worked on the project and will be building on that experience with additional tasks. It also helps with motivation if the task aligns with the team member’s personal development goals.

Step 2 – Explain Objective – Take the time to explain the reasons for the delegation, describe the needed results and how the task fits in the big picture. Because you don’t really know how much the team member understands or what they need to complete a task, ask them to prepare a plan and identify any obstacles. Then set a follow-up time to discuss the plan.

Step 3 – Provide Tools and Authority – The biggest temptation is to delegate the responsibility and withhold the authority! The buck ultimately stops with the delegator and enough authority must be delegated for the task to get done. As in the video, the discussion must include agreement on the task approach, what resources and coordination with others are needed, levels of authority, schedule and effort required.

Step 4 – Monitor Progress – Waiting to check back on the delegated task until the 11th hour is a recipe for disaster! Set agreed upon milestone dates to make any needed adjustments. Then you can be sure that needed resources are available. Offer course correction and encouragement and support. Beware of the pitfall of revoking the delegation or taking on some of the work yourself.

Step 5 –  Accept Other Approaches – Consider the bigger picture before you change a team member’s work product because it doesn’t match the way you would have done it. Does it still achieve the objective? If so, recognize that there are many paths to a destination. Accepting other approaches encourages initiative and develops team member skills and experience.

Step 6 – Acknowledge and Recognize – In today’s busy world this step is often overlooked. As soon as a task is finished it’s on to the next one without any closure on the last one. But it is a critical step of learning assimilation and recognition.  If the work is unfinished or not up to standard, then provide advice on how to make needed improvement. Don’t blame a team member for less-than-desired results for which you are ultimately responsible. When the work is successfully completed, give specific feedback and acknowledgement on what made it a quality piece of work. It will be remembered far longer into the future than a generic “Good Job”  or a pat on the back.

“I not only use all the brains I have, but all I can borrow” Woodrow Wilson

“The secret of success is not in doing your own work, but in recognizing the right (person) to do it”  Andrew Carnegie

What are your delegation challenges, experiences or tips? Please share them with us: