I am occasionally an ideas guy, and work to bring these ideas to action and have enjoyed some success with them over the years. I am also quick to point out that I could never have achieved any of those successes on my own. Collaborating with others is my best source of leverage when it comes to making things happen.
Delegating is something that I have become quite comfortable with over the years. I have been able to distill a few gems that lead to positive delegating experiences. I would like to share my top three tips for effective delegating with you here.
Clear communication regarding your expectations is at the very top of the list.
You must be very specific regarding the scope (in other words, what others need to do), productivity, output, quality and timeline. You need to carefully think through all of these aspects and ensure that you communicate your thoughts clearly.
When I was the Director of Marketing, I needed to do my job as a delegator the best I could to allow my team to do their best work. At the time, I was overseeing multiple brand managers who were all responsible for developing messages for the sales team. I was personally accountable for ensuring the consistency and impact of these messages. It was absolutely critical for my delegating instructions to be clearly thought out, specific and well communicated in order for me to achieve my goals. While they were individually responsible to conduct the sessions, management held me accountable to ensure they all delivered.
I also believe that the person receiving the work is equally responsible for understanding my expectations. The receiver must also ask questions to be clear that they understand what they are responsible for. They need to prompt an upfront discussion if there are any gaps in their ability to deliver. And finally, they need to prompt a meeting with me if at any point they cannot deliver on these expectations and offer contingency ideas.
Understand Your Purpose
There are many reasons for delegating. You may be focused on relieving your own volume so you can work on things of greater importance. Or you may be focused on training and developing someone else.
Regardless, it is imperative to be clear about your purpose in delegating. From this, you can plan accordingly.
Clarity around your purpose also helps the person receiving the work. It helps them to understand why they are entrusted with the work and how they are creating value for themselves or the organization.
Finally, you want to make sure that your boss is aware of and supports your decision to delegate work that you are ultimately responsible for.
Regular and Formal Follow-up
Delegating does not just stop after the initial assignment of work. There needs to be a formal mechanism in place to check-in, monitor progress and provide support as needed.
From the start, it helps to make sure that you have the right people to delegate work to. I also consider the capabilities of the person I am delegating to. I want to make sure that I have done my due diligence to assess their skills required for the task. If it is a stretch, I ensure that my follow-up plan reflects that.
There are many cases where it makes sense to give people stretch tasks. But in these situations, you cannot just walk away. I strongly advocate having a formal process to monitor their progress, coach them as needed and, in extreme cases, reallocate the work if necessary.
These formal reviews should be scheduled in advance, with a frequency dictated by the specific situation. In addition, I always strive to be highly accessible by phone, email and in person.
Delegating is something that I value and embrace. Effective delegating requires an investment of my time – time that I am willing to give. The payoffs are directly proportional to my input.