As a leader, are you delegating or abdicating?

Would you say you are delegating work effectively or are you just getting it off your desk and letting your colleagues take the ‘rap’ if it goes wrong?

If you are interested in learning the leadership skills needed for increasing the capacity and productivity of your team, read the following 3 tips for delegating correctly”

Teflon – Nothing Seems to Stick

Some managers believe that delegating is just shifting something off their desk so that they don’t have to deal with it.

We call managers like these ‘Teflon’ because nothing seemed to stick on their desk! It always went to the team.

While we are always encouraging leaders to do more delegating, it must be done in the right way.

Here are three simple leadership tips on delegating for effective results:

1. Giving Authority & Retaining Responsibility

When giving this authority, make sure that other people are aware of the authority that has been given to this person. This will help prevent any delays later on.

As discussed in “The Essential New Managers Kit” by Florence Stone, one of the aims of delegation is to get things done using the power of others. This means enabling team members to use their own skill, experience and motivation to complete a task.

In effect, we are giving them the authority to carry it out on your behalf. The important point here is that while you are empowering them, you also retain ultimate responsibility for the achievement.

2. Setting Them Up To Succeed

When delegating a piece of work, make sure that you have been clear in your instructions, in terms of the objectives.

You will also need to check whether they have the right resources to complete it to the standards expected. These resources might include time, skill, knowledge and access to the tools needed.

Whilst some people relish the challenge of being ‘thrown in the deep end’, be aware that some don’t and will require very detailed information before they can proceed.

This is not a negative, and, in fact, it means that you are going to get a better result.

Because people work to different standards, it may be necessary to point out how long you expect the task will take and what level of quality you are expecting. There have been many examples where employees have spent a long time on a project only to find out that the boss only wanted a quick report.

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When agreeing timescales, it is also imperative that you build in progress reviews and monitoring. This way the employee will know when and what to expect in terms of follow up.

3. Supporting Them Along The Way

As the person embarks on the task, they will want to know that they have your confidence, as well as your support, should they encounter any difficulties.

Setting up a ‘safety net’ will enable you to rescue the project should things not turn out as expected.

From time to time, you may want to have informal reviews, which will give you the opportunity to provide praise and encouragement for what they are doing.

Gentle nudging in the right direction may be all that’s required. Give them the chance to share their ideas as well as claim credit for things they have done well.

If things are progressing as planned, avoid jumping in and taking over too soon. Give them the chance to work through any problems should they occur and let them talk things through should they require it.

Finally, when the task is completed ensure that they are praised publicly and that it is recorded for appraisal purposes.

Delegating work properly is not about abdication of responsibility, it is about giving team members the power to use their own judgement to get the job done. Doing this right will ultimately increase the capacity of your team and enable you to concentrate on the future.

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Sean McPheat
Sean helps companies improve their sales, management and HR teams through consulting, coaching and training. Sean is Managing Director of the MTD Training group and you can follow Sean online here for more tips and advice on how to boost your business.
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