Think of delegation as a journey. Delegation is a practice. It’s a lot like riding a bike … you’re going to fall and you’re gonna have to get back up and try it again.
One member of your team may be a faster learner on this delegation journey than another … but eventually everyone can learn to delegate or to be delegated to at some level.
What can you do to provide a better delegation experience to your team members? How can you support them on this journey? Here are 4 tips to move you in the right direction.
Paint a better picture of the end result you have in mind. So many times we get ourselves in trouble just by assuming that team members KNOW what we need … what the end result should look like. Be intentional about what the finished project should look like. Let there be NO QUESTION about parameters … or scope … or time commitment … or resources to be utilized.
Before you begin, ask your self what possible questions they could have – and include the answers in your assignment.
Specifically assign it a person and a due date. Let’s be clear about what you are asking. Are you just discussing a topic in passing, or is your conversation a prelude to an assignment? Don’t make them guess. Be clear and direct as to who is responsible for what and when it is due. How will you know when they are finished? How will the project be delivered to you or reviewed with the team?
Ask/Answer questions and clarify. Too often I see leaders and business owners doing what I call drive-by delegating. As they pass a team members’ desk, they drop a pile of papers with a note clipped to the top.
If this is a repeatable project, and all the questions and parameters have previously been discussed or understood … no problem. But this is NOT a great way to begin a new delegated project. There’s no opportunity to clarify results desired. No focused time to ask or answer questions.
Inspect what you expect. As business owners, sometimes we desire to avoid the appearance of micro-managing. So we tend to pass out an assignment, make sure everyone is clear on the process … and then disappear until the project is due.
Every team member is different, but I encourage you (at least in the beginning) to err on the side of caution. Don’t give your team member enough rope to hang themselves without scheduling some touch points along the way. Allowing time to ask and/or answer questions will save you a lot of frustration later on in the process.
Find out HOW your individual team members perform BEST with delegated tasks. Some want more guidance; some want less interference. Others want regular check ins along the way.
Find that rhythm that best matches their working style and your need for progress and results. Then rinse and repeat.
Conversations about your delegation process will reduce perfectionism, insecurity and posturing among your team. It can also improve trust, confidence and quality outcomes.
To enjoy the experience of riding your bike, it’s necessary to embrace the fact that sometimes you will fall and need to get back on the bike. Don’t focus on being perfect … let’s focus on making progress.