6 Keys to Effective Delegation
Tuesday, October 29, 2013
Posted by: Dr. Alan Zimmerman
Dr. Zimmerman's TUESDAY TIP:
"Delegating work works,
provided the one delegating works, too."
Dr. Alan Zimmerman's Personal
No matter how good you are, you
can't do everything.
For example, you can't count your
hair. You can't wash your eyes with soap. And you can't breathe
when your tongue is out. (Hey, put your tongue back in your mouth.
I was joking. You probably can breathe when you're sticking your
tongue out. The problem is ... nobody wants to be around you.)
You simply cannot do everything
... because you don't have all the time in the world ... and you don't have all
the resources you might need. So you must learn to delegate some of your
dreams, goals, objectives, or tasks to somebody else once in a while.
And if you delegate correctly, the
results can be wonderful. The two people who did more for women's rights
than anybody else in the United States ... Elizabeth Cady Stanton and Susan B.
Anthony ... talked about that. The teamed up and divided up their work in
the 19th century, delegating tasks to one another as needed. Indeed,
Stanton once said about Anthony, "I am the better writer, she the better
critic ... and together we have made arguments that have stood unshaken by the
storms of thirty long years; arguments that no man has answered."
So how can you make delegation
work for you?
1. Think about your goals
Of course, there are some things
that only YOU can do. But don't let your ego and perfectionism sabotage
you. You don't have to do EVERYTHING all by yourself.
Ask yourself if there are some
things you could delegate to others ... especially if you have too much to do
and not enough time. Ask yourself if it makes sense to invest a little of
your time in training someone else to do some of those things. In both
cases, your answer is probably "yes."
2. Carefully select the
"correct" person to take on your delegated tasks.
Notice the emphasis on
"correct." Delegation is NOT dumping some of your work on any
person you can find. You'll live to regret that.
Just like a farmer who knows each
of his animals by name and behavior, in order to effectively delegate, you must
know the strengths and limitations of each person on your team or in your
family. You need to not only choose someone who can help you, but you
also need to choose someone who can grow as a result of the delegation process.
3. Tell the other person the
It's not enough to give someone
some of your work and tell him to "get 'er done." If you don't
give someone the who-what-when-where-and-why of your project, you're robbing
him of the pride he could take in doing that job. People need to know how
their piece of the project fits into the bigger picture.
And of all those aspects, the
why-part is the most important. Employees like to know there is an
organizational master plan in which they are playing a part. If leaders are
unable to communicate that plan to their followers, or if the followers don't
recognize the significance of their contributions, their individual motivation
can go down the drain.
One way to get the why-part or the
significance of the delegated task in someone's mind is to use numbers.
If you tell someone, for example, that the department made 50 errors in
order processing last year, you may be accurate but not motivating.
However, if you make those numbers come alive, you'll get more buy-in.
Say something like this: "Our mistakes in order processing cost the
company $73,000, gave us 600 lost work hours, and 50 unhappy customers. That's
why I want you to work on streamlining our old process." Now you've
got their attention, and they'll never forget how important their delegated
4. Give specific
instructions and get specific feedback.
It's critical. I'm sure you've
told someone to do something and they did something very different than what
you wanted. If that happens, delegation is pointless.
You need to make sure you
understand each other. If you don't, the results can be comical at best
and costly at worst.
In fact, that's how comedians make
their living. They play off of misunderstandings. For example,
Jerry Seinfeld noted, "My parents didn't want to move to Florida, but they
turned sixty and that's the law." Another comic stated, "When I die,
I want to die like my grandfather ... who died peacefully in his sleep. Not
screaming like all the passengers in his car."
You've got to be extremely
specific as to what you want and when you want it.
And then say something like this:
"I'm not always sure that I say things as clearly as I should. Could
you please tell me what you heard me say?" Don't say "I want to see
if you were listening" or "I want to make sure you got it. So
repeat back to me what I just told you to do." That could come
across as threatening or demeaning. So put the responsibility on yourself
and your own communication skills.
When you give specific
instructions, include deadlines in your specificity. Without deadlines you
really don't have any delegation going on. So if you tell someone you
want the task completed by 3:00 p.m. next Friday, you've got a specific
deadline. If you say you want something done "right away" or
"as soon as possible," you don't have a deadline. Specific
dates and times cement instructions in our minds.
5. Establish a follow-up
Just because you delegate
something doesn't mean it gets done. I'm sure you can think of a time
when you gave someone a task to complete in two weeks, and when you went back
to them in two weeks to see how things were going they had forgotten the task.
Or they just never got around to working on it.
You need to write down when you
plan to follow up with the other person.
And when is the best time to
follow up? At the beginning of a project. On a two-week project, for
example, the best time to follow up is in the first three days so you help the
other person overcome project inertia. After all, a body at rest tends to stay
at rest, and a body in motion tends to stay in motion.
Finally, to effectively
6. Implement a reward
People tell me, "Well gee, I
thank them when they do a great job." And I tell them "big
Think about it. When someone
pours you a cup of coffee, you say "thank you." When someone
opens a door for you, you say "thank you." And when someone pours 90
hours into a project, you say "thank you."
I would hope you would do more than that. It's disproportionate. Greater
effort requires greater recognition.
The other person deserves more
detail. Say something like, "This is really great. You
obviously put a lot of time and thought into this." And then go on
to compliment some specifics in their work. Let them know how their work
made a difference. The more you do this, the more they feel like you
really care and the more they will care about the next project they do for you.
As Robert Half, a renowned human
resource professional put i, "Delegating work works, provided the one
delegating works, too." He's right. And these six steps are
the work you have to do when you're delegating.
Which of the six steps in
delegation do you most need to improve? What are you going to do about it?
Share |Forward to a Friend |Read and Respond Online
the Tuesday Tip and forward it to your friends and colleagues!
About the author:
As a best-selling author and Hall of Fame professional
speaker, Dr. Alan Zimmerman is focused on "transforming the people side of
business.” His keynotes and seminars are noted for high content, high energy,
and high involvement that transform people's lives and the companies where they
To learn more about his programs and products, or to
receive a free subscription to his weekly Internet newsletter, click here.
Reprinted with permission from Dr. Alan Zimmerman's Internet
newsletter, the 'Tuesday Tip.' For your own personal, free subscription to the
'Tuesday Tip' ... along with several other complimentary gifts, go to www.DrZimmerman.com.
Copyright© 2013 Zimmerman Communi-Care Network, Inc.