I’ve been getting asked a lot in the past few weeks: OK, how do I delegate effectively? On today’s show, how to delegate work and the seven steps you should follow if you want to get the best results for your team and the organization.
I spoke about the broad framework for empowering others back in Episode #53: Get Results From People With Three Simple Steps
Broadly, three areas we need to consider in delegation:
- Planning/expectation setting (what this show and the seven steps below are about)
- Regular check-in/accountability
The Seven Steps of Delegation:
1. What does success look like?
- Time = define the deadline and major milestones
- Cost = staff time, budget, and resources
- Quality = what the customer (internal or external) expects the work to produce
2. Who is the right person?
- Who is the best person for the job?
- What kind of resources do they have?
- Who do you need to develop? Think succession planning.
3. Communicate expectations
- Speak in detail to the three areas from step one: Time, cost, and quality.
- Put it in writing, especially if someone is new or doesn’t have lots of experience.
- The amount of visibility and complexity of the project indicates how much time you’ll spend here.
- Error on the side of too much communication, when in doubt.
4. Staff member plans project
- They need to have ownership over their work.
- Autonomy is key for engagement. See Daniel Pink's book Drive* for background on why this is critical for engagement.
- If there’s a way it has to be done, get them the training on how that is done.
- If not, let them come to you with the plan.
5. Review the project plan
- Review to see if it meets the three outcomes you established in step #1 and communicated in step #3.
- If there are major gaps, address those.
- If there are minor issues, resist the temptation to make the plan better, unless asked.
6. Establish milestones
- What’s going to make you comfortable as a manager?
- Factors you will want to consider: size, scope, visibility, and experience level of the person.
- Your goal is to hit the sweet spot between micro-management and county-club management.
- No feedback is worse than negative feedback. See episode #79 for a detailed explanation from Michelle Smith from O.C. Tanner on why this is the case.
7. Provide access to resources
- What budget do they need?
- Who do they need to be connected with?
- What internal politics do you need to help them navigate?
- What equipment, rooms, resources, and lab time are necessary?
- At the very least, make them aware of gaps, even if you can't address or fund every resource.
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