When we need to delegate, we often have to face up to many fears:
Put in Milestones
If they feel they are trusted, employees will put a lot of effort and creativity into a project. However, we still need to keep tabs on how it’s going, so we need to act as an autopilot, checking on how the project is advancing. Putting milestones in place, with specific meeting times and ideas on where they will have progressed by that time, will help you both to determine progress and resist the need to be continually looking over their shoulder. That way, you are able to deal with any variation from the planned path before it becomes a crisis.
Get Lots of Feedback
One of the best ways to delegate effectively is to coach. This means that instead of telling people what to do, you ask more questions, allowing the employee to come up with the answers. This encourages creative thought and builds confidence in them ‘owning the results’. If they ask you for advice, feel free to ask them first what they think. This helps you to resist the temptation to take over the project, and helps establish trust and credibility in the employee, as they actually prove they know what to do with the project.
Be a Supporter
A strong support network should always be in place. The best way to support a delegated employee is to establish ground rules and norms when they need to make enquiries or ask for further resources. The support should help them develop their skills and get the project completed, not actually take it over from them. Allow them to ask for whatever assistance they need and discuss how this support will improve efficiency and effectiveness.
Praise their successes, Learn from Mistakes.
It’s always said that the best way to motivate an employee is to show them how valuable they are. Giving praise for a job well done is free and very effective. Don’t overdo it, or it will become patronising. Recognise when they have done an effective job, and they will feel the pride in having accomplished a goal that will drive them forward.
If something goes wrong (time-delays, quality problems, etc) resist the temptation to jump and take over or discipline the employee. Ask what you personally can learn from them not achieving the goal. Did you miss something out at the beginning? Was your checking-in process not robust enough? Was the task too stretching?
By recognising what you need to do to rectify any shortcomings, you will ensure the same mistakes are not carried forward to the next project.
Delegating successfully is not only a way to reduce stress; it’s also a survival strategy. If you choke your staff with micromanagement minutiae, you miss out on the great ideas that will move your company forward and frustrate the best resource your company has–your employees.
Head of Training
Originally published: 28 August, 2012