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December 17, 2016

Five Steps to Effective Delegation

 |  By: Mike Opperman

With all of the things to do on a dairy on a given day, it is obvious that you can’t do everything on your own, and neither can your managers. Effective delegation makes for efficient completion of tasks and a more productive work environment.

We all do our best to delegate and let others complete tasks by simply giving tasks for others to complete. In reality, it’s not that simple. Too often we are forced to step in at the last minute to fix something that inevitably is about to be broken. Sabina Nawaz, a professional CEO coach, says that by you stepping in to save the day you’re not allowing your employees to learn. Not only are they not allowed to discover solutions on their own, Nawaz says that morale can be damaged as employees begin to believe that whatever they do, their work isn’t good enough.

Nawaz, through her experience coaching executives at Fortune 500 companies, has developed a “delegation dial” to help evaluate employee skills and guide tasks. The setup involves two steps. First assess how much your employee already knows about a given task or project. The second step involves delegation based on your employee’s competence level. The dial can be applied as follows based on your employee’s level of expertise:

  • Do. If your employee lacks experience with a task and hasn’t developed the necessary skills for the job, show them how it is done. Do the work the first time while your employee shadows you to learn for the next time.
  • Tell. If your employee recognizes that they do not know how to execute a task to get a desired results, encourage self-reflection. This can help them create a more meaningful learning pattern.
  • Teach. If some steps of a task are known but your employee still struggles with other tasks, show them how to perform a task by clearly explaining why things a are done a certain way. Call out individual steps to reveal the underlying structure of how to approach a task.
  • Ask. If your employee knows how to complete a task but has to follow a “cheat sheet” rather than doing it automatically, improve their grasp of the task by asking questions. Nawaz says a few specific questions like “What is a key insight from this process that you can carry forward” builds confidence by helping the employee understand that they may know more than they thought.
  • Support. Even if an employee is fully capable of handling a task, Nawaz says that doesn’t mean they should be left without guidance. Schedules change and new priorities develop so let your employees know that you are available for support if needed.

Nawaz says that while the aullure of delegation is tempting, the tasks you delegate don’t always come out finished and perfect. Assess the stage of learning your employee is in and split the responsibility load. She says that while it may take more time at the start, the results will be better in the long term.