Delegating is such an all-encompassing word that it can feel overwhelming. What does it take to delegate well? How do I know if I am an effective delegator? What if I am missing something? What if I am too busy to delegate?
On the contrary, delegating is not a mysterious art. Success is attainable for us mere mortals. The ART of delegating involves three straightforward steps:
- Assign the work
- Review progress
- Teach (where appropriate)
On the flip side (and while the ART of delegating is simple), we get into trouble when we skip key steps. I’d like to take this opportunity to share my thoughts on how to master the ART of delegating.
Step 1: Assign the Work
A thorough intake is absolutely a critical step. We cannot simply flip an email request over to a colleague and expect things to go smoothly. Generally, three questions need to be addressed when we assign work: Who, What and When.
- Who is responsible?
- What needs to be done?
- When is it due?
In my experience, most people are fairly vague on the above. If we don’t begin with clear direction, we are less likely to achieve our delegation goals. Of course, the level of detail and direction we provide depends on the task complexity and experience of the person to whom we are delegating.
Step 2: Review the Work
We absolutely need to pre-arrange for interim reviews. We cannot expect to have a successful delegating experience if we don’t have regular reviews. Several questions come up; people need support; background information changes.
The ideal review schedule is defined, in collaboration, by both the delegator and delegatee. Mutually, we need to determine how often we need to meet. Ideally, we schedule these meetings in advance to make sure they don’t fall off our radar.
Unfortunately, this critical step often gets skipped. Especially when the people we are delegating to are highly skilled and we are busy ourselves. When we skip this step, we often scramble at the end to course correct.
Step 3: Teach (Where Appropriate)
The third step requires us to teach (where appropriate) as a way to provide necessary feedback. This is not simply a “nice to do” step. I often stress this is our obligation as a delegator. People learn by doing, and we can help them in this process by pointing out some blind spots.
If you are looking to delegate better, consider whether you are skipping any of the above. Often, our biggest delegating challenges appear when we miss one of these critical steps.