Saturday, January 10, 2004

The Ins and Outs of Delegation

Managers, leaders, and people in general have trouble letting go when they delegate and, when they do, it's with the instructions "Do this", "Do it this way and I need it back by Thursday".

Often that's the extent of the communication which could cause a tug of war throughout the duration of the project. It's hard to supervise one person, never mind many, when you become involved in every thing they do, how they do it and partial results along the way. It's not up to a manager to be involved in every step their staff makes.

Effective delegation focuses on the results not how they came about. It allows staff to empower themselves by using their talents, imagination, innovative ideas and values to get the job done.

Here are some points to follow when delegating

1. Articulate desired results....what needs to be done, the outcome you need, not how to do it. Have a conversation with the person you're delegating to and describe those results in such detail that they see the same picture, can visualise it and can come up with a plan of action to get there using their techniques, knowledge, expertise and plan of action. NOT yours. Everyone approaches a task differently. What you need from them is the outcome.

2. Give them guidelines. What parameters do they have to operate under? What are the possible challenges, or what are the possible ways the project can fail and how can that be avoided?

3. Let them know how much support they have on this i.e. resources, both human and financial, technical or organizational they have at their disposal.

4. Accountability.....what's on the line for this. Responsibility and accountability are key elements. If your staff buys into the process, and desired goals of this, it will never be an issue. And, they'll have great results to add to their list of accomplishments because THEY found a way of getting it done and well. As well, it's a feather in your cap because you can show you have a strong independent team who gets the job done.

Micromanaging deflates a person's sense of self-worth. And at the same time, sets you up for having to be responsible for that staffer next time around and the time after because the attitude becomes "I don't have to put much effort into this because he/she will change it ultimately anyway. Besides which every time I turn right I'm told to turn left and never know how things will change from one moment to the next". Micromanaging breeds indecisiveness. Leading breeds strength.

What kind of team do you want working with you?

Donna Karlin

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