No, this isn’t a Nike promotion. It’s more of a plea for help from a desperate leader.
There are many managers out there that know how to manage stuff, numbers or time, but getting things done through other people, that’s a different story all together. Delegating tasks or responsibilities to others can be very tricky, if you fail to understand the secret ingredient. The secret ingredient is not “Because I said so!” even though most of our Mothers may disagree.
Are you a good delegator?
If you exhibit any or several of the following traits, you may not be:
- You are always running behind trying to play catchup, never seeming to get ahead.
- You don’t check your inbox for days.
- People always seem to let you down.
- People seem reluctant to be part of your plan, so you let them slide.
- Your employees drag their feet when it comes to deadlines.
- People usually show themselves not worthy of being trusted.
- Your employees try not to get “picked” for a task.
- You tend to dump and run, and leave the cleanup duties to someone else.
- You delegate only the tasks you don’t have time for.
- You often think “it’s just easier to do it myself”.
The missing ingredient
The trick to be an effective delegator is not to get people to do something for you. It’s to get people to WANT to do something for you. To do that, it requires two people wanting the same thing. That’s not easy when the boss is looking out for herself.
The secret ingredient… Trust. Yep that’s it.
“The trick to be an effective delegator is not to get people to do something for you. It’s to get people to WANT to do something for you.”
Think of a spectrum. On one end you have obedience, on the other end you have empowerment. Obedience requires nothing but following directions and maybe a little fear. Empowerment on the other hand requires Trust.
Trust & Empowerment
People are glad to take on responsibility for you if they first trust that you have your motives in the right place. They need to know that you have their best interest in mind as well as the clients. They will be reluctant if they believe your request is self-serving. The leader must also trust that the delegate is committed to the outcome as they would be, given they are standing in for them. Mutual trust is necessary for seamless delegation to take place.
Second, they need to be empowered to handle the responsibility. Both you and the delegate need to understand the level of competence required and be confident in the assignment. If not fully competent, assistance and guidance may be needed. This is part of the learning process.
The formula is simple, as trust increases, empowerment increases. When the delegate is empowered and trusted, they tend to take ownership over the results. They take pride in the quality and timeliness of the task. It reflects their abilities and where there is trust, you don’t want to disappoint.
This is further illustrated verbally in the following series of instructions. Notice how it goes from simple following of directions to full empowerment.
Stages of Delegation
- “Wait to be told.” or “Do exactly what I say.” or “Follow these instructions precisely.”
- “Look into this and tell me the situation. I’ll decide.”
- “Look into this and tell me the situation. We’ll decide together.”
- “Tell me the situation and what help you need from me in assessing and handling it. Then we’ll decide.”
- “Give me your analysis of the situation (reasons, options, pros and cons) and recommendation. I’ll let you know whether you can go ahead.”
- “Decide and let me know your decision, and wait for my go-ahead before proceeding.”
- “Decide and let me know your decision, then go ahead unless I say not to.”
- “Decide and take action – let me know what you did (and what happened).”
- “Decide and take action. You need not check back with me.”
- “Decide where action needs to be taken and manage the situation accordingly. It’s your area of responsibility now.”
So, the next time you start barking orders out expecting results, keep in mind there may be a better way.