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The Four Tools of Effective Delegation
Delegation doesn’t have to be an empty promise.
Delegating usually involves handing off things you’re already doing to colleagues and team members willing to do them. The promise is of the extra time you’ll gain from no longer doing those tasks, tasks you might not even be all that good at. But most leaders know what happens when delegation goes badly, when those to whom you delegate don’t get the job done or worse, return frustrated at you for perceived inept leadership.
Delegation doesn’t have to go poorly; it can be an effective tool when you give four tools to those to whom you delegate.
Four Tools of Effective Delegation
The Scope Tool - When you delegate, define what the finished product looks like in detail with as much practical description as possible. Questions you are trying to answer are:
What is the end goal of this project?
How do I know I’ve succeeded?
How does the success of this project contribute to our organization?
The Resources Tool - What resources are you giving to the person to whom you’re delegating? When you ask someone to do a job, make sure they are equipped to do it and make sure that they know they are equipped to do the job. Questions you are trying to answer are:
What is my budget?
What other team members can I ask to help?
What amount of my working hours can I commit to this initiative?
The Feedback Tool - Let the person to whom you’re delegating know when and how to get in touch with you. Different projects and different leaders require different amounts and kinds of communication. Do you only want to hear when there is a problem? Do you want weekly check-ins? Do you only want communication by email? These are things to define clearly upfront. Questions you are trying to answer are:
When do you want to hear from me?
If I have an important question, how do I get in touch with you?
What is the best way to communicate with you?
The Failure Tool - Make sure the colleague to whom you delegate understands the importance of the project. The best way to define importance is to be clear about what will happen if the project fails. State it upfront. What stakeholders will be impacted? How is revenue dependent on this project? Questions you are trying to answer are:
What does failure look like?
How will the organization be affected if this project does not succeed?
If this project fails, what lessons can we learn that will help future projects?
Delegating well ensures that both you and the person to whom you delegate have clearly defined the parameters of success. Some projects fail, and some working relationships are strained. But project failure and relational strain don’t have to be because of poor delegation.