Delegation: You delegate. Fantastic. You free up time for something else you need to do, are the best at doing or have been wanting to do. You could never find the time before and maybe now you will ! Fantastic. Play to your strengths; get others involved; share the heavy load.
In your business, you’ve decided you’ll hire someone for accounting or collaborate with someone internally and turn over some of your responsibilities. Fantastic.
Or at home, you’ve delegated the laundry to your family. Fantastic.
- The free time doesn’t happen.
- The laundry is an unfolded disaster.
- The delegated responsibilities at work are not done on time.
- Not done. Not to your standards.
- Oh, fantastic. What happened?
Delegation “fails” and takes the wind out of your ideas!
But wait …
Are you willing to practice again? Try it differently? Because following these 4 steps can make it work better for you.
#1 Before delegation
How could you make this a low risk delegation experiment ? By giving a carefully chosen piece of the process to your new partner. So look at an entire process first and choose one piece.
- At work, choose something with a long deadline, not a pressing need. Little or no pressure for a first timer. And do the above, take it in pieces, so you can see how the person is doing at each step of the way.
- For example, asking children (and some adults) to “do the laundry,” or “fold the laundry” is too big and new a job to start with. Probably won’t meet your (now experienced) standards. How about helping you sort the laundry, put it away, or simply measure soap. Work on educating them on pieces, one at a time, until the whole process is taught. Then watch carefully. And then delegate [but monitor; delegate but don’t abdicate.]
- How will you know this is working? Could be a metric at work, like how long it takes to get a step done, or done well …. or your instincts. Pay attention to those.
#2 How exactly to delegate
Be clear as you describe the results you need. Pay attention to whether the person is understanding and taking in what you say. Ask for his or her understanding of what you’ve said, once you’ve articulated it. Listen the words and watch body language.
Here is a good start at questions to know before you talk to someone about delegation:
- What are you looking to have happen?
- By when ?
- Do you want a great job or a rough draft for review? (Laundry could be: Show me one shirt, folded, before you continue.)
- What does he/she need to know or be trained in, before beginning? How can you set up for success, both of you?
- What should he/she watch out for? Where are the trouble spots? You’ve done this job before so you will know how to prevent mistakes. Share and educate.
- What are the potential trouble spots? Do you want them resolved with or without your support?
- How much needs to be done before you take a first look at how he or she is doing? Break up your project into pieces, so you’re not surprised at the end.
- If money is involved, at what dollar level does the person need to ask for you approval? Be clear about that, upfront.
- What is the best way to communicate with you? Email, phone, in person. Are you more comfortable with a regular, short meeting to check in?
Next blog, I’ll walk through:
- After delegation
- And when something goes wrong [it will].
“The master delegator” was an occasional name for me during my corporate career. I was clear on what I did and did not know, and then building expertise, in a team, to support our clients or products, in my different roles. And each time I’ve taken on a leadership role in my current volunteering, I’ve learned something new about working with others, working on a team, enlisting and delegation.
P.S. We all delegate. Are you care-giving? Running a household? Running a business or working ? Then delegation is a skill you need.
If you are curious, call or email me at 603.554.1948 Sue@CoachSueWest.com to have a 1/2 hour, no charge call. We focus entirely on your question you want to work on. Any discussion of continuing work together is after the call, so the whole time is for you.
In coaching, when we work on a focused topic such as this, a common length of time we would work together is 2-3 months, generally twice a month, practice in between. The practice is what makes a skill stick, and helps you with insights and awareness about yourself which contribute to your success.