Delegation Tools by Jim Johnson

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I am taking a series of online courses from Notre Dame (go Irish!) via University Alliance (http://www.universityalliance.com). One of the lectures I just finished was one on “Delegation by Design” by Paul Slaggert. I want to share some of that with you in this post. I found it helpful. I think you will, too.

Most of us have had work delegated to us. Many of us have delegated work to others. Our experiences may or may not have been positive. Mr. Slaggert presented 5 steps in the Delegation by Design that he discovered from Sam Mantel. Here are those steps:

1. Make the Delegation

After you have decided what you will delegate and to whom you will delegate, sit down with this team member and have a conversation where you will:

a. Agree on the objectives of this assignment
b. Share what you expect to happen (i.e. the results)
c. Explain when the assignment needs to be done.
d. Disclose why it is important that this particular task gets done.
e. Share how far they can go with it – relevant and reasonably constraints of the assignment
f. Give them the level of authority they’ll need to complete this task

2. Request a Written Plan

After you share the expectations, be sure that your team member understands and can echo back to you these expectations. Require that they provide you with a written plan (a brief one) that covers all of the assignment. It is vitally important that this written plan includes milestones and reporting tools that will be used to measure progress.

3. Mutually Review the Action Plan

Again, this will happen in another conversation – not in emails bouncing back and forth. Face-to-face meetings are a must. You will review the action plan and both of you will mutually agree that this will be THEIR assignment. Your goal is not to tell them what to do or how to do it. They need to try things on their own. But as their manager, you need to make sure that they have the necessary resources to be successful.

4. Make Milestone Checks When Appropriate

Check in from time to time. Don’t micro-manage, but do inspect what you expect. You will help them become more successful when you follow-up and assist in any problem-solving they may need. Slaggert stressed that you should not be answering a question they may have with a direct answer. Answer their questions with another question. Encourage them to work through problems for much learning can be done there. Always make yourself available to meet and honor your commitment by showing up to meetings with them.

5. Conduct Prompt Review

“Delegation is not complete until the final review is conducted!” This was a great reminder to me. Many times, I have delegated work, it got done, and I moved on. This cheats your team member from valuable feedback and more learning. When they have been successful, praise, praise, praise! Build their confidence on what went well and have an honest discussion on perhaps what didn’t go so well. Put your review in writing to be shared with them.

Also, make notes that you can use in quarterly and annual reviews. Many times, delegated assignments can take a lot of time. Give them full credit in a written review for their hard work and commitment to the task.

Delegation is a great way to train and develop your team. Try this process next time you need to delegate something. I think you’ll find that the experience will be very beneficial to both you and your team member.

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