A few months ago, Gordon, one of our clients, shared a story that highlighted a critical component for effective delegation.
Gordon told us that early in his career, he was tapped by an executive for a high visibility project. The executive did a brilliant job of following the standard delegation process, but it was what happened next that impressed Gordon the most.
After their initial meeting, Gordon said that the executive asked if he’d join him for a walk around the site. On the walk, they visited each stakeholder involved with the project.
The executive introduced Gordon’s new role and set the expectation that any communication, requests, or concerns about the project should now go directly to Gordon. He positioned him as the person who had full authority to speak on behalf of his office.
Gordon remembers doing everything possible on the project to represent the executive well.
Informing Stakeholders Pays
Three main benefits come from informing key stakeholders about a significant delegation of duties:
- You motivate people to take ownership
- You free your time for work only you can do
- You develop more capable staff
Much like with Gordon, when people see that you’ve set an expectation of confidence for them to handle work, many people will work to meet or exceed your expectations.
Taking the time to do this helps all parties get clear on who is making decisions and where communication is going. This prevents you playing air traffic control every time a minor issue arises and gives others permission to make decisions. Time you free should be used to attend to things only you can do.
People will make mistakes. Unless it’s a critical issue or threatens the entire project, resist the temptation to rescue folks. Coach and support them, but be sure they are the ones to work through the challenge. Employees who earn your trust to make decisions and develop from their mistakes will grow into more capable decision-makers in their own right.
Why We Avoid This
With so many benefits, why skip this?
- It takes time and we get busy.
- Lack of trust.
Resist the temptation to delegate and forget. Expectation setting with other stakeholders makes both of your jobs simpler in the long-run.
But lack of trust is often the bigger obstacle.
Lots of leaders don’t fully trust the people they’ve delegated to. As much as they’d like to develop people, they want to be in the loop when issues come up so they can step in and immediately take over…err, I mean provide coaching.
If trust is an issue, schedule more regular check-ins with the person you’ve delegated to, but keep ownership with them. If that’s not practical, then they aren’t the best choice for this project.
Questions To Consider
How could you better inform key stakeholders of what’s already delegated? What will you do differently the next time you delegate work? Please respond below.