Posted on April 15, 2011 by Dr Robert Edmonson, One of Thousands of Executive Coaches on Noomii.
Smart leaders “know what they don’t know”
One of the secrets to success is not ‘what you can do’, or ‘what you know’ but identifying and delegating to the ‘right individual(s)’. The primary question you should ask yourself is, ‘Am I fully leveraging the competencies, skills and knowledge of others?’
Delegating is a key leadership trait. It challenges and strengthens your communication, asking questions, listening, planning, decision-making and problem solving skills. It also develops staff trust, rapport and builds stronger relationships.
3 Ways to Delegate
The following are three delegation approaches which can be used independently or in combination based on the situation and requirements.
Limited Involvement. Individuals are given the task overview and expectations. Responsibility for planning and ‘how to do’ are shifted to the individual. Involvement from that point forward is ‘as required’.
*Option Two: *
Monitor, Mentor Them. Leader introduces task, provides in depth, step-by-step execution plan, expected results and closely monitors progress.
Coach Them. After introducing the task overview, leader invests the necessary time to ask questions, listen to answers and help the individual understand the task in detail, invite comments, ideas and opinions. Great leaders stretch staff thinking by asking them for better ways to handle the task. Individuals are encouraged to take calculated risks to improve processes, productivity and results.
Tip 1: Delegate What?
Leaders instinctively know what tasks to delegate and what they should handle themselves. However, before deciding to delegate, ask yourself a series of questions:
‘What can only be best performed by me?’
‘What activities generate the most revenue for the firm?’
‘What are the time-wasters that should be stopped to maximize my time?’
‘What repetitive, simple tasks can be passed to another?’
‘Do I have the time and resources to mentor, coach and train the delegate?’
‘Who has strong innovative, creative skills that could do tasks even better?’
‘Who are the emerging talent that would benefit from taking on additional tasks?’
Tip 2: Define the Scope
No matter how simple the project, work out a 6 Step plan to help clarify the scope:
1. Determine the project purpose and value.
2. Mentally visualize the end result.
3. Use powerpoint slides, sketch a chart, mapping or a graph.
4. Describe the required resources and support.
5. Define milestones, expectations and realistic timelines for each step.
6. Assess each step to determine specific skills required.
Tip 3: Delegate To?
To help determine the best candidate, consider the following factors:
Do they have the time to take on additional responsibilities?
Are they open to taking on new challenges and stretching themselves?
Do they have the foundation skills and knowledge to handle the task?
Motivating to Succeed.
Appealing to individual self-interests is the key to motivating others to succeed. Here are some key concepts to consider:
Each person is motivated for different reasons. Reasons come from within them, not from others.
Motivation begins with doing something they really want to do.
Understand what motivates the person selected for the task.
Discuss the positive impact the project will have on the company and staff.
Describe their strengths and why they were selected for the project.
Highlight possible future opportunities and recognition for their contribution.
When describing the task, remember the words you use will influence their thinking and perception. Use motivational phrases like:
‘We feel you have the competencies that will definitely make this project successful’.
‘Being directly involved will enhance and strengthen your knowledge of…..’
‘This project is challenging and will stretch your skills and I know you are up for it’.
Tip 4: Communicate to Understand the Plan
When the delegated task is completed, will it resemble your expectations? One of the biggest obstacles leaders face when delegating is communication. Clearly explain the project’s purpose, its value, details, their responsibilities, resources and support provided, timeline and expectations to the delegate.
Visuals amplify understanding and learning. The brain is programmed to recognize and recall visual images to quickly understand, innovate and arrive at solutions.
Use the document created in Tip 2: Define the Scope to collaborate with the delegate on the task. After discussing the project, chart and details, ask the delegate to re-sketch the task scope and write out the details as they understand it based on your description.
To eliminate possible communication gaps, ask questions about their sketch and details, then listen to understand their perspective.
Did the description match what you had in mind? Don’t be a perfectionist. Even if you don’t totally agree with their interpretation
- remain nonjudgmental. Look for what is good and ask questions about what doesn’t exactly match.
Tip 5: Empower Their Brain
Although instructions are necessary
- micromanaging is non-productive and highly demotivating. Recognize that individuals are unable to perform a task exactly as you would do it - in fact, they may do it better. While some prefer to work totally independent, others may invite supervision to stay on track.
For individuals to take project ownership they must use their own personal style. Telling them ‘how to do’ the task using your hard-wired thinking will only become a barrier to them maximizing performance.
Ensure the responsibility and authority level are aligned. Shift responsibility and control to the individual. This shift encourages commitment, passion and dedication to taking action to achieve goal. When you empower others, they become partners to success.
Tip 6: Ongoing Support & Monitoring
People welcome interactions to get positive input on their performance and progress.
Mutually agree on periodic progress check-ins. Periodic check-ins demonstrate your ongoing support, interest, keeps things on track and identifies potential problems to ‘prevent’ rather than time consuming, costly ‘fixes’.
Many times people are reluctant to offer input or ask questions. One of the purposes of on-going meetings is to collaborate and exchange ideas. So encourage comments and questions.
Tip 7: Powerful Praise
Do you complement or praise someone for their contribution? Being appreciated is a basic human requirement everyone needs and wants.
Appreciating In Action.
All praise and compliments must be genuine and honest. It should also be very ‘specific’ so the individual knows what they did well. This reinforces a repeat of the behavior and begins to build new habits. Here are some suggested approaches:
‘Your work is very high quality because you always ……..’
‘I am very happy with your performance and the outcome as it……….’
‘I really appreciate your help because……’
Although people are internally motivated by self-interests such as a ‘purpose to believe in’, they also appreciate external, tangible rewards too such as being highlighted in the company newsletter, dinner vouchers, included in talent development programs or presented with an award at annual gathering.
Tip 8: Think Solutions, Not Problems
If the task is not going well or behind schedule maintain a supportive, helpful attitude as getting upset or angry only complicates matters.
Avoid focusing on the problems as it will create self-doubt, fear, demotivate and lower confidence. Stay solution-focused on what could be done to improve the situation such as:
‘Would you like to brainstorm some ideas to find ways to improve the situation?’
‘What do you think you could you do differently to achieve the goal?’
Rethink, Reframe Task.
The brainstorming and collaboration could indicate the project or task needs to be restructured or require someone with special skills.
Tip 9: Expected Outcome?
Let’s assume the results are not up to your expectations. You have a choice. You can reprimand, criticize, berate, blame and say a variety of negative things to show your unhappiness. All of which only make matters worse for the individual and serve to damage your image.
Conversely, you can use a self-directed, positive approach focused on learning and personal development. This method helps the individual review the situation for reflections on what was learned, what they would do differently in the future to improve performance and how they could share that knowledge with others to avoid a repeat.
‘Self-directed’ Learning Approach in Action ‘The final outcome didn’t turn out the way we expected, and I know you’re not happy with the results. Let’s focus on what you could have done to change the outcome.’
‘What are the 3 most valuable things you learned from this project?’
‘If you had it to do over again what would you change?’
‘If you observed yourself, how would you describe your actions?’
‘What things were you very successful in doing?’
‘Overall, what have you learned from this project?’
‘What would you tell others to avoid ending up in the same situation?’_
Delegating clearly delivers proven benefits to leaders, staff and the organization. It allows leaders to focus on higher priority tasks while developing trust and motivation, creating opportunities to strengthen staff knowledge and skills, and to achieve even more.
Copyright 2009 Paradigm21 Robert Edmonson
Article may be used by referencing author and Paradigm21 website: www.paradigm21.com