5 Steps to Delegate Effectively

June 29, 2010 by  Filed under: Management 

The act of delegations is to trust someone other that yourself to make a decision. You may insist they consult with you. Prepare yourself – Once you have decided to delegate a decision you must be ready to accept a different decision than what you may have made yourself. Regardless of whom you delegate to That person has to be empowered They must listen to your views and suggestions but they must feel free to develop their own alternative solutions if they feel their alternative is a better choice.

The amount of delegation can vary greatly, of course. There’s a vast difference between delegating to a submarine commander the task of captaining a ship and delegating to a clerical worker the task of finding out the number of registered taxi cabs in New York City. To delegate means that you have given the decision making process and all of the related tasks.

Trust if the foundation of delegation. Effective leaders prepare people by mentoring them carefully and providing them increasing levels of responsibility. Ideally, when you delegate, you turn over responsibility to someone whose judgment you’ve come to trust as much as your own. Ideally, you’ve also established ground rules or principles that define how much communication you need to feel you are sufficiently informed of other people’s decisions.

Leaders need to be very focused on helping people succeed when they delegate. So what is flawless delegation? It involves the following five steps:

1. Define your expectations: Plan for the outcome you want. Context and background are important elements Provide them. Be clear about the budget and other constraints (for example, policy guidelines, legal constraints, stakeholder issues). How are you measuring success what constitutes failure – define and document this. Explain how you wish to be consulted – and who else needs to be consulted. Map the relationship of the delegated decision to the overall decision-making process.

2. Describe the quality you expect: This is typically best done through examples of past successes. Give people time to ask questions, and take time to clarify your expectations. Make sure everyone understands.

3. Define your timetable: What landmarks must be completed and when. Write down your deadlines and distribute copies to all concerned.

4. Ask and provide assistance to your team: Find out their individual needs. Is your employee ready to assume the tasks or project you want to give them. Sometimes, you need to offer coaching even if it’s not requested.

5. Don’t micromanage: Once you’ve delegated a decision, don’t micromanage. It’s fine to ask for status reports. But be careful lest you be perceived as reneging on your delegation.

Effective decision management is described in depth in the new book Leading at Light Speed, a must-read leadership book revealing 10 quantum leaps to build trust, spark innovation, and create a high-performing organization.

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