As a manager, you’re often told of the value of using delegation to develop others. Delegation can help you focus on the tasks where you’re most needed and can help scale your business in accordance with your goals. Still, the question remains: Who do you delegate certain tasks to and how do you best supervise them once you delegate?
It may sound like a complex question to answer, but in reality, you can identify who you need to delegate a task to based on two questions. Here is a very simple delegation guide:
Step 1: Answer Two Questions, Based On A Scale of 2 = Excellent, 1 = Intermediate and 0 = Poor or Non-Existent:
Step 2: Add The Resulting Scores Together _____
Step 3: Interpret Your Score
If someone scores a 4, they’re highly competent and highly interested in the project, in which case you can likely give it to them and get out of their way. But, if they score much lower on that scale, such as a 2, you may have to be clearer about what you want and stay in touch with them more.
Using delegation to develop others can become a problem if you hired the wrong people or if you have very competent people who have little interest or expertise in the project.
When you give someone a project, how close you stay to them throughout the process begins with their interest in the project and their competence in the skills required. For example, if an employee is highly interested but doesn’t have the skills, you’re going to have to stay closer to them than if they have all the skills and are highly committed to the project.
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You must evaluate their competency, level of expertise and interest in the project. Their score on the test above may call for you to be more of a mentor or it could enable you to completely delegate to them. One path is very hands-on while the other is very hands-off. No matter what, you’re responsible for the outcome. This method is called situational leadership.”
Not quite. Tempted as some managers may be to look upon an employee with high competence and high interest to take on the project and say, “They can just go off and do it all from here,” that doesn’t absolve you of responsibility.
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One of the biggest pitfalls of using delegation to develop others happens when managers believe that it allows them to largely wash their hands of the project. Not true. Interest and competence still require a solid, detailed plan with clear direction and an end goal.
One of the biggest pitfalls of using delegation to develop others happens when managers believe that it allows them to largely wash their hands of the project.
If those elements are absent, you could have a highly skilled and passionate person who still isn’t aligned with you.
You don’t have to use the three-step delegation guide given above on others alone. You can also apply its questions of competence and interest to yourself when you’re not sure if you have the skill set or passion for a particular task. How do you score? Should you delegate or keep the project?
Before you answer, remember another influential factor: Time (as in how much you have and where it is best spent).
When you’re new to the organization (and less familiar with everyone’s skill set) or you’re within a very lean organization, it’s possible that using delegation to develop others won’t be an option. In that instance, don’t automatically assume that you have to take on all tasks.
Instead, take a deeper look at the tasks themselves and ask, “Are all of these necessary to be done?” If the answer is “no,” then get rid of the ones that aren’t necessary to focus on right now.
What remains are the tasks and projects that must be done. If you don’t have the manpower to do it, then outsourcing may be a good option. If you believe you can’t afford to outsource it, then go back to square one and ask how necessary are the tasks to be done.
If the answer is still that they have to be done, then your only answer is to work more time and hours. But more often than not, if you evaluate your list closely enough, you’ll find there are tasks that can come off your highest priority list.
Remember, the biggest barrier to using delegation to develop others is a leader who constantly says, “I’ll just do it myself.” When you do it yourself, over and over again, you limit your opportunities to potentially scale as a company while minimizing your own productivity and efficiency.
Lee Eisenstaedt is the Co-Founder of the Leading With Courage℠ Academy and author of the Amazon best seller, "Being A Leader With Courage." Lee helps new and emerging leaders make a bigger impact, sooner by increasing the self-awareness of their strengths and blind spots through the Academy’s assessments, workshops, and executive coaching. He has also…
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