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Results are achieved largely by working through others. Do not try to do everything yourself. It is impossible. Once you have the right people on your TEAM and create an energizing work environment, you now have to delegate tasks in an effective manner.
Here is the formula for doing so:
- Assign critical tasks to the members of your TEAM. Put in writing the mutually agreed-upon timelines for each phase of the work, deadlines for completion, and the results to be achieved. Establish targets that are achievable with stretch or extra effort. Be demanding but fair. Request that you receive regular feedback on progress being made.
- Keep your work instructions simple and straightforward. The more complicated you make something, the more time it is going to take. Do not over-communicate or micro-manage by getting too involved in discussing the details of how to do the work. You are primarily interested in the end-results. Challenge your TEAM members to be innovative and seek new ways of improving their performance and productivity.
- Emphasize that nothing significant is ever accomplished without taking calculated risks and making some mistakes. Stress, however, that you never want to be blindsided with any surprises. All mistakes must be addressed in an open, constructive and timely manner. If anyone discovers a serious problem or that something is starting to go wrong, you want to be alerted to this issue immediately.
- Explain that everyone’s job description is just the starting point for what they are being paid to do. Say that you are counting on all of your people to use their best judgment in solving problems and dealing with issues when they arise as opposed to running to you for answers. Firmly resist your TEAM members engaging in upward delegation by asking you what they should do. Keep the monkey on the right back. When people come to you with a problem, insist that they go back, think through the alternative solutions and return to you with their recommendation for how best to deal with the situation.
- Check back on a regular basis to determine the progress being made, clarifying your expectations when necessary. Offer your support to help deal with any roadblocks or provide required additional resources.
- Adopt an open-book approach with your TEAM members by helping everyone understand the key performance numbers and financial reports for both your department and the organization as a whole. Invite questions about these numbers. Urge everyone to give you their ideas and suggestions for improving them. Basically, your objective is to empower everyone to take a real sense of ownership regarding the overall success of both your department and the total organization.
- Push your employer to establish an online ideas platform to encourage all associates to suggest ideas for new products, attracting new customers, improving processes and making the organization more successful. Best Buy, Dell, Starbucks and Google all use such ideas platforms for their employees to generate innovations and solve problems.
- Wherever possible, incorporate some form of TEAM-wide profit-sharing or incentive compensation into how your people are paid. The same goes for facilitating a share ownership plan for all employees if you are in a position to do so. These steps, together with an open-book approach, will do wonders in changing employee attitudes, creating a strong sense of loyalty and trust, and boosting the performance of your department and organization.
Through delegation, you provide opportunities for your people to expand their expertise and develop capabilities for assuming more responsibility. The more you delegate, the more they will learn and grow. In this way, you will develop your own successor to make it easy for your organization to promote you to a higher level.
The one time when delegation is not appropriate is when a crisis occurs. This is when you as the supervisor must stand up and decisively take charge of the situation in a visible manner. Under such circumstances, your TEAM members will look to you for strong leadership and direction.