Most business owners and those in leadership positions would agree that delegation is critical to managerial success, but many times we are dissatisfied with the results of what we’ve delegated. While this is sometimes the fault of the person completing the assignment, on many occasions it’s the fault of the person giving the assignment. Believe it or not there is a common root cause to this and it is simply a lack of clarity when delegating a task. Clarity is absolutely crucial in creating successful delegation strategies.
While those executing an assignment have the responsibility to deliver a professional product, those delegating the assignment have the responsibility to ensure that the assignment instructions are crystal clear.
Remember these steps when delegating assignments:
• Clarity of Objective: What exactly is it that needs to be done? Explain why this assignment needs to be done. I’ve learned subordinates are motivated to completely finish tasks when they know complete details about an assignment. There’s nothing worse than giving someone an assignment and telling them it needs to be done so just do it, arrrgghh! Always make sure you leave the lines of communication open. I may say something like, “If there’s anything at all you don’t understand about this project, just let me know. I don’t mind at all. I’d much rather you check in with me now if I’m at all unclear… or at any point in the project, preferably earlier than later.”
• Follow Up: Check in to see how the project or assignment is coming along. Do not micromanage. If there’s something going on with the task you don’t like or agree with, ask open-ended questions that will allow the individual to give input. Give them the opportunity to correct the problem.
• Clarity of Time: Set realistic time frames. Make sure the person has reasonable opportunity to successfully complete the assignment. In addition to actual allocation of time, provide support that will allow your team member to utilize that time efficiently. For example, if you need your administrative assistant to finish a business proposal for you in the next hour, make plans for someone to answer the phones during that hour. This method of time + support gives everyone involved the best chance of meeting goals and objectives.
• Clear Feedback: Once the delegated project has been completed, remember to give feedback! People want a sense of how they did; this is an opportunity to give kudos, constructive critique, and advice. Use this time to ask the person what they thought about the project, including what they learned, things that could’ve been done differently, and what they enjoyed about it.
Delegation can be a powerful management tool, as well an empowering motivator for your team members. Generally, we all want to succeed, so delegate your assignments strategically, and with complete clarity, to create a win-win scenario for all involved.