Time and time again, you’ve heard that delegation is crucial to your success. Spread the work around and you get more done in the long run.
Delegate especially well, and you can build a network of effective, highly motivated people who can bring you great success.
But be honest, are you a superb delegator? If you are, read no further.
But if you still occasionally stumble in your attempts to effectively delegate, here’s a summary of the common mistakes you might be making and what you can do to overcome them.
MISTAKE # 1: NO PLAN
Master delegators take the time to plan the work with subordinates, so they can “work the plan” without extensive oversight. Neglect a good plan, and you’ll be tempted to constantly check-in, criticize, or micromanage.
The solution: Ask your direct report to develop a step-by-step plan – complete with timeline and reporting responsibilities – that you can review and agree on.
MISTAKE # 2: NO RELATIONSHIP
Do you have a quality relationship with your direct reports? If you haven’t built enough rapport and trust to work together without standing side by side, you’ll end up with problems.
The solution: Spend some old-fashioned quality time with your team members. Understand his or her skills, strengths, and weaknesses and get to a point where you’re comfortable discussing them.
MISTAKE # 3: NO CANDOR
It’s easy to sing the praises of delegation. But it’s also easy to forget to give fast, genuine feedback (good and bad) to your delegates.
The solution: Each time you meet with your delegates, identify any positive or negative reactions you have to her or his performance and discuss them.
MISTAKE # 4: NO COMMUNICATION
Delegating a task is never enough. You can easily forget to review the parameters of the assignment when it’s made and forget the importance of check-ins while it’s being carried out.
The solution: A review session (which can be part of a routine 1-on-1 meeting) at the outset and opportunities for regular discussion later.
MISTAKE # 5: NO TIME
Delegated work may involve other people’s schedules or assignments. If you fail to take these into account when delegating a task, your direct reports may find themselves unable to meet your deadlines because they don’t have enough time to meet the expectations and schedules of others.
The solution: At the outset, identify all individuals – colleagues, vendors, customers, members – who must be involved in the task. Develop a mutually agreed-upon timeline for completion of activities. If the task is significant, get buy-in from all involved.
MISTAKE # 6: NO FLEXIBILITY
How many times have you delegated responsibility only to hear later on that things didn’t work out because of changed circumstances? It happens!
The solution: Give your direct reports the discretion to make decisions when confronted with information or problems that you didn‘t originally anticipate.
MISTAKE # 7: NO ACCOUNTABILITY
Once you give someone responsibility for a task, how do you ensure that it’s properly completed? If you don’t put a mechanism for accountability in place, you’ll be increasing the chance of a poor outcome.
The solution: Regular reports, exception notifications, and special meetings.
MISTAKE # 8: NO CLARITY
When you delegate do you explain exactly what the tasks involve or what outcomes you desire? NO? Then you might end up in the wrong place.
The solution: Explicitly communicate your expectations and deadlines to your direct report and make sure you both have a mutual understanding of it. I often ask the other person to repeat back to me what they heard to make sure there is no ambiguity left on the table.
MISTAKE # 9: NO CONFIDENCE
If you ask your direct report every few hours how a task is going or repeatedly criticize during check-ins, you‘ll send a clear message to the other person: “I don’t think you can do this task properly.” And guess what? If your actions suggest this, he or she probably won‘t be able to do it.
The solution: Look for opportunities to praise your direct report during the process – the occasional compliment, a thank-you note, a word of encouragement during a staff meeting. And assume the role of coach, encouraging shared problem-solving.
MISTAKE # 10: NO CONSISTENCY
How many times have you delegated a task only to signal changes in your expectations with regularity? Shift your position, and you’ll slow the completion of the task – and you’ll increase the chance of an unsatisfactory outcome.
The solution: Agree on the outcome, the reporting mechanisms, and the amount of authority your direct report has in advance. Change your expectations out in the event of a serious problem.
If you found this interesting and want to learn more about delegating, communication and becoming an awesome leader overall, then let’s get on a call and get clear on what’s currently working for you and what isn’t and how to bridge that gap.