Master Delegation - The Secret Ingredient

Yes, But...

If you’ve been a leader for any length of time at all, you know you’re supposed to delegate.

You understand that you can’t achieve big goals on your own, that leadership is all about achieving results through relationships, and that when you delegate, you multiply yourself.

You may know all that, but delegation can still be frustrating.

How many times have you delegated a task or a project, only to have it drift off into oblivion. Many weeks later you find yourself thinking, “Whatever happened to that project?”

If that’s ever happened to you, there is one tool you can add to your delegation tool belt. This is a delegation tool very few leaders use and yet, it is simple, easy to use, and you can start with it right away.

You’ll have an advantage over most leaders when you use this secret and you’ll waste far less time tracking down open projects.

When? Why?

Before I give you the tool, let’s take a look at delegation.

Delegation is the act of sharing responsibility and authority for a task, project, or outcome with another person.

Two of the best reasons to delegate are that:

1) It frees you up to do the work ONLY you can do.
2) It builds your people. They grow their own skills, responsibility, and leadership.

Before you delegate, you want to make sure of three things:

1) The person you delegate to has the information necessary to succeed.
2) You have time to delegate effectively. If you must train the other person, allow time for this.
3) Finally, the task you want to delegate isn’t part of the work ONLY you should do. For instance, if a core part of your job description is to choose new build locations, you might get input from your team, but keep the final decision with you.

Okay, so let’s say you’ve checked off those items:

• You have time to delegate effectively
• The person has the information they need
• It is a task you can safely share
• It will give you more time
• It will build up your people

Now what?

As I’m sure you know, you share the task, what success looks like for this project, the timeframe, and so on.

The Missing Ingredient

But there is one more critical step and many leaders make the mistake of forgetting to this.

This mistake is based on a misunderstanding of delegation. When you delegate, you SHARE responsibility, you don’t GIVE UP responsibility.

You are still responsible to ensure your team achieves what it is you delegated.

This is where the final step comes in. Whenever you delegate a task, the next thing you need to do is schedule the follow up.

This is a variation on the use of what I call the magic formula - who is doing what, by when, and how will we know?

It’s the final question...the "How will we know? How will the project be delivered? How will the delegated task be completed?" ...these are the questions that create accountability and ensure that tasks are completed.

To use this tool, reframe your thinking:  You have not delegated anything until you have scheduled the follow-up on your own calendar.

Your Turn

When you delegate, you're still responsible. Schedule the follow up at the same time you delegate the task and you’ll never again waste time chasing down forgotten assignments.

Leave us a comment and let us know:

How do you make sure delegated tasks are completed (without micromanaging?)

Take care,

David Dye

Creative Commons Photo by Nguyen Vu Hung