Learning how to delegate.

Consider this a lesson in humanistic management. Delegating work is hard for 2 reasons.

1)      It requires us to outline the work that needs to be done, how it needs to be done, the resources needed to do it and it takes time to train someone to do that work.

2)      It requires us to give up some of our control – and most people really have a hard time with that.

The solution to both of these problems is better communication.

My own delegation skills are actually pretty good. I have managed teams of volunteers, staff members in a M&A firm and board members to constructive cooperative action. The key to success is really being clear about what it is you need done and why you need it done. Then taking the time to recruit the person with the right skills to do it AND training them properly.

There are several tricks managers can use to do this right, mostly – it’s about having a check list and not rushing it. To delegate, you have to put in the time up front to set things up so that you can delegate successfully.

Set Things Up Properly

To set things up – means to organize the work so that it is clear what needs to be done. The resources required to do it are available. How this task intersects with an affects the other work going on has been worked out. And you have a plan in place to train the person you are giving the work to.

This should all be done before you recruit someone to do the work for you. Once you know what needs to be done and the skills required to do it and you know what resources you have or that are required – you are in a position to recruit.

Failure to do take the time necessary to set up the work so it can be delegated – means your recruitment effort will probably not go as planned. You may get someone talented, but that isn’t always enough. If they need specific skills and you aren’t clear about that – then you have a failure caused by failure to communicate. For instance, my aunt was hired one time to do a programming job and she was very excited. She got there and found out that what they wanted her to do was not what she thought she had been hired to do and she didn’t have the skills required for the job. She was pissed. Had she known, she would not have accepted the job. The company wasted her and their time and caused everyone a lot of unnecessary frustration by not setting up the job property by defining it properly. Figuring out what skills were needed and what resources were required for the job.

Most people get frustrated because the time required to set things up takes more time than it would if they just did it themselves.  What they don’t realize is that this up front time investment will save them time in the long run.

One of the major ways people fail at delegating is they start the process and don’t complete the training or they just assumed what they know the person they delegated to knows and then they get mad when the delegate doesn’t know it and they give up on delegating.   Rule number one – if the person you delegated work to fails – it’s probably because you forgot to tell them something important!

Delegation Disasters

The worst delegation disaster’s I have witnessed almost always involve someone not telling the person they have delegated work to – the time deadline.  Like – please do this – but not – please do this by Friday!   Or – I need help painting this room – but don’t tell me what day you’d like me to come and join you.  I was invited to my son’s school to participate in a PTA meeting. I got 7 robo calls reminding me of the meeting. The problem – they didn’t tell me what time the meeting was or where to go to participate. No – I’m not kidding. Things that obvious are not always obvious to the people doing the organizing.

7 Mistakes People Make When Delegating

When you delegate work there are 7 things you need to communicate. Delegation failures are almost always caused by these 7 staff management sins:

1)      Don’t tell the person what you need them to do.

2)      Don’t explain to them why the work needs to be done and what happens if it isn’t done (deadlines fall into this category)

3)      Don’t give them the tools they need to do the work

4)      Don’t train them how to do the job

5)      Don’t verify that your staff actually knows how to do the work (it’s amazing what isn’t obvious about a job that you might think is obvious – verifying that they can do the task before setting them loose on it – corrects your oversight before it becomes a real problem).

6)      Don’t follow up to make sure it was done in the time frame you wanted it done

7)      Forget to say thank you. If someone has done something for you – THANK THEM!!!

Further Learning

My company, Humanist Learning Systems offers humanistic management and behavioral based training for harassment and change management topics.

I have 2 online courses that address the problem of management and delegation –

The 7 Sins of Staff Management - https://humanistlearning.com/7-sins-of-staff-management/
The Principles of Humanistic Management - https://humanistlearning.com/principles-of-humanistic-management/

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