What – A first step in creating successful delegation is defining the WHAT. What are the tasks which you can delegate? What are the things that you could pass off to others leaving you with the time and space to focus on strategic and tactical issues? What activities would be motivational for others to take on?
In general you should not delegate to others key responsibilities tasked to leaders such as team management issues including performance management, feedback, coaching, and conflict resolution.
Some safe tasks to delegate include technical issues and projects which others may have an even deeper skill set in. There may be other tasks which create learning and development opportunities for others. Some of these might include involvement in special projects, coordinating special events, or participation in meetings where they represent yourself and the team. Routine activities such as paperwork and standard reports. While you may need to complete the final version of some reports it may be beneficial to involve others in the draft stage
Once you have decided on the task you want to delegate, you will want to paint a clear picture of what the desired outcome is, and what resources will be needed for the person to accomplish it. Resources may include financial resources, time, people and also the authority to get things done. It is also important to think through what your expectations are in terms of task completion - quality, timeframes and reporting. Using the SMART framework in goal setting can also help you break down the task. A reminder of the SMART framework - Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic and Timebound.
Who – Just as important to successful delegation s getting clear on the WHAT, the WHO to delegation is just as critical. The Who involves matching the best person to the task or activity involved. Jim Collins’ analogy in Good to Great is about getting the right person in the right bus and in the right seat.
Consider who on your team might benefit from, and be motivated by, the opportunity to take on the task. Do they have the skills,(or the ability to stretch, to achieve the goal? What else would be needed to complete the task? What support would they require along the way?
Finding the right match between the person and the task is critical for delegation success. Careful consideration of the WHO contributes to delegation success.
Why - The third W is the Why. Once you have decided what you are going to delegate and who is going to take on the task is, it is important to set up a delegation hand-off meeting. During this meeting, communicate clearly what needs to get done and why this task is important. Paint a clear picture of what the end result will look like with the person you are delegating to. Let them understand the Why of this project or task? Provide them with relevant information so that they know how this task fits into the bigger picture and why this task is important for the team and/or organization. It may also be useful to discuss with them why this task is important to them and how it contributes to their own career path.
Where - The fourth W is about WHERE to Go. Where can the person go for support? What resources are needed to successful completion - from your perspective and from their perspective? It is important to have dialogue around who can they reach out to if they need support along the way. Ensure that the person you are delegating to has the adequate resources, and the authority, to complete the task.
When – The final W is the WHEN. In setting a team member up for delegation success it is important to discuss what are the major deadlines and project milestones associated with the task. How will you communicate about how the task is coming? When do you want to hear back from them on this task? Create a common understanding around time frames, success factors and what the final product will look like. Again, the SMART goal setting framework can be a useful framework to share with your team members. Finally, the WHEN reminds us about the importance of feedback throughout the delegation cycle.
Enjoy your week and your delegation!
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