Effective delegation is a process. It is one that you will manage, shape to fit your personality and your work, and yet it will remain somewhat fluid. Fluidity means simply that the guidelines must remain flexible. Never make any hard and fast rules, unless it is to make all things fluid. All things do -- and should -- change with time. If you are not flexible, yourself, it will be difficult to delegate effectively.
Following some specific steps will guide you but not constrict you. If you find yourself being run by the rules, then it is time to change the rules. If your business mode is, "We have always done it this way, and it works, so don't change it," then somebody has a definite problem with change and that, in itself, will stop progress, and cause the business a loss in building and nurturing creative minds.
Effective delegation is based in the very idea of creativity. Using various personnel to move in and out of different obligations will promote new ideas and give employees some autonomy within the framework. It will generate open-ended thinking and challenge your people to push their own skills.
Step 1 - Develop a plan.
Look online and you will find plans for anything you want to do. The trick is fitting a plan to a management style, personality of the company, and relevant to the work. The important thing is to remember to include the parts that make it reliable and valid. It must have the goals, the objectives for reaching the goals, assigned roles, time lines and monitoring preset. If any of these pieces are left out the plan will cause more confusion than clarity.
Step 2 - Assess your personnel.
This second step is crucial to your task of delegation. You have to know your employees. You have to know their skill levels, talents, work habits, and their ability to remain open to new paths, as well as have some experience with those that are well worn. Knowing your teams is the basis for assignments. It means sometimes putting two people together who come from very different environments, because of those very skills. People grow when you force them into situations that might be uncomfortable, or in which they lack experience, or expertise.
The mix of the people you rely on can bring about some terrific and exciting production ideas. It is worth the time it may take to do this kind of mixing, because it both promotes creativity, and it promotes the development of new skills. All you have to remember is that your job will be to do some coaching to support this growth.
Step 3 - Develop and broaden your own skills.
As the leader, manager, or director of the group or organization, it remains that your skills must be those of a leader. If you find yourself lacking in an area, you must get some training. As technology has progressed so quickly -- and continues to do so -- there isn't a person in any office who has not had to learn new computer programs and skills. Change is inevitable, and you must be ready to go with it.
Your team will be unable to strive toward effective work, if you are not extremely effective, yourself. Delegating requires a confidence that is felt across the board. It is important that you can make appropriate decisions, that you stay organized, and that you are ever present for the team. Delegating does not relieve you of the responsibility of the project or task. It is not an answer to finding free time for the leader, or getting somebody else to do the work the leader would rather not do. Delegation requires a different kind of work for the leader. It requires patience to train and coach, confidence that the team will work well without your finger in every pie, and it requires a lot of monitoring, feedback, and support of personnel so they can focus on the task they have been asked to do.
It is imperative that as the leader or manager you stay ahead of the game, so to speak. You must have the skills to be flexible, the time to coach and monitor, and the expertise to give guidance, feedback, and support, as needed.
Step 4 - Understand what you are asking others to do so you can communicate it clearly.
Preparing to delegate jobs in your office requires people skills, but most importantly it requires the skill of dynamic communication. This includes the ability to be successful in writing, speaking, and in listening. Listening is often overlooked as a skill, yet it is essential for communication. Not only must a manager listen to his team members, but to his own supervisor or boss. Understanding begins with listening, and listening is more than hearing.
When you communicate, it is a two way street. One person is giving information and another person is receiving the information. Your own experience will confirm that what happens between the intent of the person giving, and the person receiving, the information is often very different. If the communication between those who make assignments, and those who are getting the assignments, is not made very transparent, the task is based in problems before it has begun.
Communication should be given both orally and in writing, and the receiver of the information should be able to report what he hears as the intent. Communication is not only a complicated procedure in its own right, but a complicated skill to attain.
Step 5 – Seek cooperation and agreement between members of your team.
It is important to remember you are dealing with people. People sometimes have emotional attachments to work; they lack confidence in themselves, or in another member of the team. It is possible that a member of your staff has feelings that will inhibit his work and you have no clue as to what these might be. Because of this, over the years, there are people who make it their livelihood to go into organizations and carry out fun and games in an effort to bring the group into a more harmonious place. It's called team building, and it may or may not help.
The important part of getting cooperation and agreement between team members starts long before assignment of duties. The tone for openness, fairness, and listening must be present in the organization. Without those, delegation must wait. When delegation is used, the staff must trust the other members, the leader, and the company. This has to be worked at. It does not just happen. From the top down, people have to be open, ethical, listen to others, and demonstrate that every person is important.
Step 6 – Set rigorous, but not impossible, goals.
Use your forms for goal setting, and if you see a need to change that form over time, don't make such a change that it looks totally unfamiliar. The form should be understood by everyone, and everyone should have been trained about the use of it.
When you come to the table with your team to delegate the work, you should have already written down what the goals should be, a tentative time line, and people who are getting assignments. Sitting down and going over the forms with those involved opens the door to input from the group, and a give and take of ideas.
Listen loudly. This is a great time for your staff to see you demonstrate your skills for cooperation within the team. Allow each person to honestly share their own feelings about the choices you made, but only after you have gone over them and explained explicitly why you made the assignments you did make. Make some changes, if possible, to give your team buy in, and also because many heads are better than one.
Give everyone a chance to speak. Make sure everyone is aware of the ground rules for this conversation. It's even a good idea to write the rules on the white board, or make them into a poster. The rules will be a short list that will let everyone understand the expectations of this conversation. You need to include the following: One person speaks at a time (you don't want side conversations going on); each person must express their feelings honestly (and hope you have worked out the situation between the two who got into it the other day); and everyone must be able to tell you in his own words what their assignment is, and when it is due.
Step 7 – Monitor all delegated tasks
According to the plan, there will be increments of the work with a monitoring meeting set at specific junctures. These are critical. If, as manager, you are not paying attention to the production of your team, there will be consequences.
One consequence will be that the work may not be going well and you will miss the opportunity to give support or coaching. If you don't monitor the work, your employees will not feel supported, and might feel the job they have been given is not important. Your ability to keep these check-ups on schedule will give everyone the expectations needed to meet your deadlines. Even if you have worked with your team a long time, the monitor points are not to be pushed aside. They are a prime time period for building those relationships, skills, and creating a positive atmosphere.
The monitoring of delegated tasks is the point that your guidance must be expressed for correction or redirection. Remember this is ultimately your responsibility, too. A leader must lead in every way to stay viable in the eyes of his or her employees or staff. That doesn't mean overbearing or dictating each move. It means giving constructive feedback, encouragement, and attention. A real leader will do the job with finesse.
Step 8 – Give your people the support they need to be successful in their work.
There are few of us who have never been in a situation where the expectation was given, but the materials were not. As the leader of the group, it is paramount that your give support.That means provisions requested, materials needed, space, time, opportunity, and guidance or coaching. The success of the company or organization depends upon the success of the lowest individuals in the hierarchy. The more you support those under you, the better their production will be. You can never give too much support, appreciation, or kindness.
Step 9 – Advocate for your crew, their work, and their promotion.
This may appear to be an odd step in the delegation process, but it is extremely important to the individuals who report to you, for the person to whom you report, and to the overall health of the organization.
While your team is working, keep your "higher-ups" informed of the process. Communicate the dedication, the inventiveness, and the ability of your workers. If you are managing appropriately and effectively the production of work should be excellent. If you want to have the best, then you have to give your best. Make sure recognition is made, newly acquired skills are pointed out, and that your employer is apprised of individuals who should be promoted. If your office can count on you to advocate their work, talents, and dedication, then they will not let you down.
While this may appear as a footnote to the delegation process, it is very much an important part. As you improve your own delegation skills, those who work with you will come to understand that you are on their side at every juncture. This, in itself, will give your ability to manage a boost. It is the rare boss who can bring out the top abilities in their work force, but if your reputation is that of an advocate, even new hires will work hard in your office.
Step 10 – Stop and enjoy the fruits of your labors.
It may not seem like the office is the place to stop and rest, to sit back and admire your hard work and take a break, but it is the perfect place. A job becomes a pleasant place when you know that you will have a chance to be challenged, grow, and express your ideas. It becomes a place you enjoy when, after hard work, your manager stops for a while and allows everyone to de-stress.
And don't think this means you tell everyone they can wear jeans or to bring deserts to the work room on Friday. This is a long break of a couple of hours that you plan, you provide for, and you attend. This is a time for your group to bond in a natural way, so you don't have to play those silly games on a professional development day that focuses on team building. Unless, that is, you actually enjoy such affairs.
1 . Your group has been given several projects and you develop a delegation plan.
2. You take the time to think about your personnel, their talents, skill levels, and work ethic.
3 Assess your own skills and decide if you are able to coach and support the roles you will assign to your team.
4. Become so familiar with the assignments that you will be able to explain each part to each person or team, and feel confident that you've chosen the right person for each job.
5. Explore with your group how they will handle the work, discuss each one's own feelings about it, and allow a sharing of ideas. You want your people to begin the work in a state of cooperation.
6. As the group goes over the goals you have set, get their feedback about the challenge and the feasibility of the work and timeline.
7. Make sure everyone understands that each set monitoring date is important, and that you will make assessments of the work, the team, their abilities, and skills at each meeting.
8. Prepare each worker by having materials and supplies ready. Support the work, as it continues, with coaching, as needed, your presence, your respect, time, and space.
9. It is important that you validate the positive aspects of your team in some way to your own supervisor. Take notice of skills that are being developed, the personal growth of each employee and the positive atmosphere among them.
10. When the work is done, there should be some sort of celebration where you spend face time with the team. Simply handing out a gift card or sending a note is not enough to show your appreciation of good work. Do something appropriate for your workplace. It will pay off in the loyalty of the staff toward the greater good.
Set up your physical or computerized notebook:
Spend some time either using your computer or your art skills to make a page for each of the ten steps in the process. Then illustrate each one. This will give you a good reference but also seal these in your mind.
If you are unsure of these considerations, go back and review the material.
1. Can you recall the 10 steps in order?
2. Do you think one step is more important than another?
3. Consider the amount of time being a manager who delegates will take in a week.
4. Do you feel that delegation is an important part of your workplace or do you think you can work to make it important?