Contrary to popular belief, delegation is not “dumping” work on other people. Make it a part of your management system for getting work done through other people by creating an environment in which they want to do the work and are able to do the work.
There are four steps in the delegating process:
1. Identify the work or result you want to delegate and determine to whom you’ll delegate it.
You can delegate almost anything, with the following exceptions:
- You can’t delegate the overall result of your position (unless you’re leaving your position).
- You can’t delegate the work or results of someone else’s position (unless you have their agreement).
- You can’t delegate work or results that have been delegated to you and that you’ve agreed to do yourself.
When it’s time to delegate, determine which position is appropriate for the task. Not the appropriate person, the appropriate position.
Many business owners and managers have a tendency to delegate everything to the same persons, over and over. They are the ones who have come through for you before.
What’s the remedy? Pay attention to your own habits. Notice if you’re stuck in a comfort zone of habitually delegating to the same people. Invest managerial time in creating systems and training people how to run them. Force yourself to trust people to do their jobs.
2. Put the delegation in writing, with the due date.
Once you know what you’re going to delegate and have identified the right position and person, you need to write the delegation down with as much specificity as possible.
When you put something in writing:
- It forces you to plan the work better.
- Others are less likely to misinterpret what you want.
- It provides a record of the request.
- It minimizes confusion, disagreement, and misunderstanding.
- It allows people to function more independently.
- People know exactly what they’re agreeing to
- It gives you a starting point for quantifying the work.
- It saves you time in the long run.
The “musts” in your delegation are: the result you want, the standards that must be met, and the due date and time. In some cases you might choose to lay out the task yourself step-by-step.
As a manager, you must be clear and specific about when you want the result accomplished. State the due date and time specifically: “Monday, July 12th by 3 p.m.” Not: “in a few days,” “in a couple of weeks.” And not ASAP (as soon as possible).
When the reluctance to give a specific due date stems from uncertainty about how long the task might take, just use your best judgment.
3. Discuss the delegation with the employee whenever possible.
For new assignments, discuss the delegation with your employee. Even though the delegation agreement form is designed so a face-to-face meeting is not necessary, a meeting can give both of you opportunity to:
- Discuss the objective of the assignment; relate it to the company’s or the department’s goals.
- Discuss the logic behind the due date and the standards.
- Address what might be challenging for the employee.
- Provide a forum for the employee to ask questions.
- Determine the first reporting loop to check the progress of the work
4. Get the employee’s agreement
The final step of the delegation process is to get the employee’s agreement to be accountable for the result. Remember: no agreement, no commitment. No commitment, no result.
Anticipate reasons why the employee might decline the delegation. Maybe they think they lack the time given their other accountabilities. Maybe they feel they lack the training or ability to do the job. The delegation agreement provides an opportunity and a forum to express concerns.
You’ll find that this process allows employees to cooperate with their managers to determine how results will be achieved. It leads to more agreement, more commitment, and more timely results throughout your company.
In addition, it will lead to more satisfying working relationships.
Let me know if you’d like some help delegating in your organization; I offer a free consultation right here on my website so let’s start a conversation today. Also watch my video Why Is Delegation So Difficult?