I was having a conversation with a gentleman the other day who was bogged down in his work because his team kept struggling to handle the delegated tasks he was assigning them. We talked for a while and came to the conclusion that with a few simple adjustments, he could regain control of his efforts to delegate meaningful work to his associates. Here are those adjustments…
Start With The Right Selection – If you want your delegation to be handled as a priority, and handled with care, you must first choose the right person to accept the delegation. Think it through and select a person who understands the task and the context for why it’s important. Also, be certain that the person you’re delegating too is up to the task and has the correct skills, experiences, and temperament to succeed with this important task. Every delegation is a potential coaching opportunity, so proactively offer emotional support as you delegate. You can also state that you are willing to help to keep your associate on track should they stumble along the path.
Delegate Ownership – My friend was delegating tasks, but he wasn’t communicating the context for the task to his delegation handlers. As a result, they struggled to understand the why behind the task. You see, when we assign an important task, we must also create an environment for success around that task. That means providing context and perspective and creating a clear sense of ownership. The person you delegate to must understand that you selected THEM, in particular, to handle this task because you trust in them and believe in them. Again, you must state that you will help them to successfully handle this task and offer to supplement their efforts to complete the task, but make it clear that THEY now own it and will be completing the task. That makes it clear that they are expected to execute the task and not hand it back to you.
Avoid the Boomerang! – If you’re not careful, a significant number of your delegations will be flying back around toward you, because they proved difficult to execute. Be very very careful NOT to accept the task back when it boomerangs in your direction, or else you’ll be coaching your people to execute on the easy tasks and bring the tough ones back to the boss to handle. That’s anything but functional. Ken Blanchard called this a Monkey, in his book, The One Minute Manager Meets the Monkey. You must treat your delegations as absolute, give them to the right person and NEVER take them back. If you DO take them back, you’ll soon find that you’re taking a LOT of them back. Send the right message to your team and when they struggle to complete a delegation, coach them on how to get back on track and work by their side for a moment to help them to regain momentum. Then let them complete it. It’s a bit like teaching someone to ride a bike. At some point, when you know they’re ready, the training wheels come off and you let go of the back of the seat and let them ride for themselves.
There are few things in life as clean and euphoric as watching someone succeed with first learning to ride a bicycle. The sense of accomplishment is rich and powerful. Handle your delegations correctly, and you can ensure that you won’t have boomerangs flying at your head. Your people will be prepared for the challenge, they will be clear that THEY own it all the way to the finish, and they will be committed to getting the right results. I wish you great success with your delegations so that you can remain tremendously focused on your vital few high priority objectives!
Michael is an award-winning business advisor who works with C-Suite Executives, Business Owners, and their Leadership Teams. Michael works with mid-sized companies all over the United States, helping them to affect transformative change as they build a culture of accomplishment in their businesses. Consider subscribing to Michael’s YouTube channel, Michael Beach Coaching & Consulting, where you’ll find an abundance of brief gems on Business Best Practices.