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Do you know how to properly delegate work? Part 2

24 Apr

In part 1 we covered defining the task, choosing the person, agreeing the objectives and dealing with objections.

Step 5: Let them get on with it

Having set them up, the important thing is to let them get on with it. Trust them to do the job. They will not do it exactly as you would – they may not even do it as well as you could – nevertheless, leave them to get on with it, unless you see something actually going wrong.

If things are going wrong, resist the urge to put them right. Clearly, you want things fixed as quickly as possible but, equally, you don’t want to create a feeling among your team that you’ll leap in and sort things out whenever they go wrong.

If there is a problem, firstly concentrate on the solution, rather than what caused the problem. Encourage a belief among your team that they can come to you safely and talk to you without being heavily criticised (so, ‘how could you be so stupid?’ is definitely not a recommended opener!). Also encourage them to come with a recommendation or, at least some ideas about what to do.

Make sure your staff understand why the error occurred and that they agree both the action to be taken to put it right and the changes needed to prevent it happening again.

You want to create a culture where people are not so afraid to admit mistakes that they try and cover them up, but where they actively look for problems and are willing to come and talk to you about them.


Step 6: Monitor progress

You will have agreed review points when agreeing objectives. You need to stick to these – missing review meetings will indicate lack of commitment on your part and unscheduled reviews will give the impression that you are interfering. Make sure you cover all the action points from previous meetings and that you have done everything you promised to do!

The key here is doing sufficient monitoring to manage the risks. If someone is new to a task, you may ask them to bring their plan of action to you for approval before they actually start. If they have done the task successfully many times before, you may just need to know when it has been done.


Step 7: Support and coach them, where appropriate

You may choose to give formal coaching sessions, reviewing progress, checking concerns and previewing future actions. You may also need to provide instruction or training. There will be lots of opportunities during the day-to-day work to do this. It is particularly valuable to listen for such opportunities. They might include occasions when:

  • They ask for your advice
  • They ask you to solve a problem
  • They ask you to make a decision
  • They say something like ‘I’m not sure how to… ’ o ‘I can’t…’
  • You review a project or piece of work
  • You notice something that could be improved
  • You are involved in a team task with them.

A simple and effective approach to adopt whenever these opportunities occur is suggested below.

  1. Have helping this person to develop as your primary objective.
  2. Ask what they want to achieve.
  3. Ask questions:
    • Where have they got to?
    • What’s working
    • What’s not working?
    • What have they tried?
    • What else could they try?
  1. Add in any other options and suggestions of your own (if necessary).
  2. Ask them what they want to do.
  3. Ask them to let you know how it went.
  4. Praise them appropriately.


Step 8: Feedback on results

Clearly, you need to review with the person whether they have achieved their agreed objectives. More than this, you should discuss how well they have done – what went well and what could be improved. For example, you may learn from them that the process could be improved so the task can be done more easily in the future.

If things have not been successful, you must review with them why things did not go to plan and deal with the problems. And then, always, always support them and take any flak that comes.

Remember the definition of delegation – you have trusted them with the authority to act on your behalf. This means that the result is still your responsibility and you must accept that, whatever happens. If you do this, you will build great trust and loyalty among your team. If you don’t, you will undermine all the good work you have already done.

Post courtesy of People Alchemy

At Catalyst we run ILM accredited Leadership and Management courses which include how to delegate work to ensure a happier, more efficient workplace. For more information, please visit our website.

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