Increase not only your efficiency, but also your effectiveness through delegation
If you want to manage your time you need to learn the skill of effective delegation. The majority of people refuse to delegate their tasks to others because they feel it takes too much time and effort to do, and they are constantly applying the old maxim; “If I want this to get done properly, I’ve got to do it myself.” However, effectively delegating to others is probably the single most powerful high-leverage activity there is.
When you transfer your responsibilities to other skilled and trained people you are able to devote your efforts to other high-leverage activities. Effective delegation will result in growth for both individuals and organizations. J.C. Penney once said that the one of his best decisions was to “let go” after he realized he could not do everything by himself. That one decision resulted in the growth of hundreds of stores, and thousands of people.
There are two basic kinds of delegation; “gofer delegation”, and “stewardship delegation”. Gofer delegation basically means you tell people what to do and have them report back to you when the task is completed. Unfortunately, most managers are still stuck in this paradigm. The reason is that when they were producers, they always rolled up their sleeves and got stuck in. However, when they are promoted to managers they still feel the need to be very much involved in the task to the point where they do a lot of it themselves. These managers are not aware of how to set up a full delegation so that another person is committed to achieve results. Because they are focused methods, they become responsible for the results! Remember, how many people is it possible to supervise if or manager when you have to be involved in every move that they make?!
There is a better, and much more effective, way of of delegating to other people. This method is based on the paradigm of appreciation for; vision, resourcefulness, conscience, and the free will of other people.
Stewardship delegation, unlike gofer delegation, focuses upon results rather than methods. It gives people a choice of method and makes them responsible for the results achieved. This method of delegation, effective delegation, takes more time to implement in the beginning, but you can view it as time invested.
Stewardship delegation involves clear, up-front mutual understanding and commitment regarding expectations in five key areas.
- Effective Delegation Consideration #1 – Desired Results. An effective manager needs to create a well-defined, mutual understanding of exactly what needs to be accomplished, focusing on what, not how; results not methods. This will take time, but be patient. Project the desired result, and have the other person see it, describe it, and make out a statement of what the results will look like, and by when they will be realized.
- Effective Delegation Consideration #2 – Guidelines. Identify the guidelines within which the individual can, and should, operate. Ideally, these should be as few as possible to avoid gofer and methods delegation, and also include any restrictions that are applicable to your particular case. After all, you wouldn’t want a person to think he or she had considerable latitude as long as they achieved their objectives, only to transgress some long-standing organizational practice or value. This would kill initiative in its infancy, and send people back to the gofer’s mantra: “Just tell me what needs to be done, and I’ll do it.”
- If you have already identified the failure paths of the task, be open and honest with the individual to whom you are delegating the task. Tell them where the quicksand lies. However, you don’t have to reinvent the wheel day in, day out. Let people learn from your mistakes and the mistakes of others. Point out the failure paths, what not to do, but don’t tell them what to do. Allow your people to accept responsibility for the results, and do whatever is necessary within the framework of the guidelines you have set.
- Effective Delegation Consideration #3 – Results. Identify the human, financial, technical, or organizational resources a person can draw on to accomplish the required results.
- Effective Delegation Consideration #4 – Accountability. Establish standards of performance that will be used in evaluating the results and the specific times when reporting and evaluation will take place.
- Effective Delegation Consideration #5 – Consequences. Specify what will happen, both positive and negative, as a result of the evaluation. This could include such things as; financial rewards, different job assignments, and of course the natural consequences for the organization.