This is a guest blog post by Pamela A. Scott
This piece is on delegation, why you should do it, and how to do it right. First, though, check out how to do it badly.
My husband and adult daughter were both working from home, as was I. I kept hearing them shout from the other room: “Is the internet down?” “Why does the web keep crashing?” “What’s wrong with our wireless?”
Then the suggestions started coming in.
“You (me) should call ACME and tell them their service sucks.”
“My friend found a different jiggambob that speeded up his service. You (me) should call him.”
“I think it would work better if you (me) turned the refrigerator upside down.”
I was on deadline; I didn’t have time for their problems. That’s when I actually said the following. I can’t believe I said it, but I did.
“Bring me solutions, not problems,” I barked.
I was serious. I didn’t have the time to research options, check on different company offerings, and other stuff. I delegated!
Except I really didn’t. What I did was abdicate. I threw the research and decision into their laps — I wiped my hands clean and went back to the keyboard.
Read on to learn how to delegate instead.
What Does It Mean to Delegate?
I like the way the E-Myth puts it.
“One of the hallmarks of great leadership is effective delegation. This happens when a business owner or a manager regularly gives responsibility and authority to an employee to complete a task. Doing so develops people who are ultimately more fulfilled and productive. And for the manager or business owner, delegating frees you to attend to the important strategic work of business. There is a critical distinction however, between delegating and abdicating, and it’s one that many business owners struggle with.
“The dictionary defines delegate as: ‘To give a task to somebody else with responsibility to act on your behalf. To give somebody else the power to act, make decisions or allocate resources on your behalf.’
“To abdicate, on the other hand, is simply this: ‘To fail to fulfill a duty or responsibility.’“
Who Should Delegate and Why?
I believe each of us has a responsibility to help others grow. You can do that through delegating well.
Last week I asked a client, a principal in a large company, who was the best mentor he had ever had.
“I never really had a mentor,” he said. “I learned from watching others. I got to where I am on my own.”
I sighed. “What are you doing to mentor your staff?” I asked.
“I know I need to delegate to my staff, but it’s so much easier and faster if I do whatever myself,” he said. “Then I know it will be done right.”
Your purpose as a CEO, a principal, a manager, or as a brand-new supervisor with just you and one person on your team is to develop your staff.
Delegating well is a great way to do that.
Tips for Managers on How to Delegate Effectively
I’ve found abundant advice on how to delegate effectively — too much to share in this post. I’ll share some of the top ideas, then please read through the links that follow.
- Evaluate your own experience with being delegated to. Has your manager delegated projects or tasks to you? What went well? What didn’t?
- Pick a task or project that is within the reach of the employee you’re delegating it to. Don’t make the challenge too small and almost meaningless. Also don’t push an employee to take on a project that is way beyond that person’s experience and knowledge.
- Be clear about your objectives for the project. What outcomes do you expect? What things do you NOT expect the employee to tackle? What resources are available to employees to help them find the information they need?
- Set specific milestones and deadlines and track them. Make sure the employee fully understands those milestones and deadlines and why they matter, and follows them along with you.
- Have periodic check-ins. Ask if the employee needs help. Do not assume that if an employee is working away quietly that she knows what she’s doing. She may be totally lost. And that costs your company money.
For more, see these sites:
About the Author
Pamela A. Scott is an executive coach and founder of MentorLoft, a coaching firm that works with CEOs and execs to prepare their Next Gen leaders to run their company. Pamela specializes in coaching engineers and CEOs of professional service firms. For more information, visit www.mentorloft.com.
We would love to hear any questions you might have or stories you might share on how you delegate tasks effectively.
Please leave your comments, feedback or questions in the section below.
To your success,
Anthony Fasano, PE, LEED AP