Q #132: How to explain the work to be delegated?:
In this series, Bob Morris poses a key question and then responds to it with material from one or more of the business books he has reviewed for Amazon and Borders.
In one of the volumes in the Harvard Business Press “Pocket Mentor” series, Thomas L. Brown, author of more than 400 published articles as well as The Anatomy of Fire: Sparking a New Spirit of Enterprise, offers some excellence advice on how to delegate effectively. It is no coincidence that, during exit interviews of highly valued employees who have accepted a job elsewhere, three of their most common complaints are that (1) performance expectations were either vague or inconsistent, (2) there was insufficient feedback (e.g. constructive criticism) from supervisors, and (3) performance appraisals were unfair and/or inaccurate. The advice that Jordan offers in this volume can help to reduce (if not eliminate) these complaints. Better yet, immediate and significant improvement of performance management at all levels and in all areas of the given enterprise will help to reduce (if not eliminate) the loss of highly-valued employees. To say that a worker has “high potential” and then do little (if anything) to develop that potential is unconscionable.
Here is Brown’s response to the question posed: “How to explain the work to be delegated?”
1. Select the person best qualified and schedule a one-on-one, face to-face meeting. Immediately express trust and confidence in that person. Explain why you selected her or him. Establish a cordial and collegial tone. Maintain direct eye contact. Avoid melodrama.
2. Clearly and specifically explain the work to be done. What’s the objective? Why is it important? Desired results? Value of those results? Relevance to overall goals of the organization? Negotiate or set benchmarks re progress reports qand deadline. Explain resources available, including your assistance on an as-needed basis.
3. Establish agreed-upon standards of performance, measures of success, and levels of accountability. How will progress by measured? With whom will progress reports be shared? Review contingency plans (e.g. when an unexpected problem develops).
4. Review the resources that will be available. Also, explain whatever protocols may be relevant. “Here’s what’s available. What else will you need?”
5. Identify the need (if any) for any special training, coaching, equipment, clearances, etc. More often that not, the person to whom you delegate may have concerns of which you are unaware. Now’s the time to discuss them.
6. Clearly define the level of authority being delegated. This is critically important, first to prevent any serious problems but also to avoid any behavior or situations that could prove embarrassing to the person to whom you delegate the work.
7. Agree upon parameters for feedback during the assignment and follow-up upon its completion. People to whom work is delegated should be a full partner in a discussion of how it will be done. They need to feel independent but not abandoned, empowered but not in control (you are), and trusted but working within limitations and parameters.
Those in need of wider and deeper coverage of this important subject are urged to check out:
12: The Elements of Great Managing (based on Gallop’s ten million workplace interviews)
Rodd Wagner and James K. Harter’s
Great Business Teams: Cracking the Code for Standout Performance
Howard M. Guttman
Reality Check: The Irreverent Guide to Outsmarting, Outmanaging, and Outmarketing Your Competition
Growing Great Employees: Turning Ordinary People into Extraordinary Performers
The Practice of Adaptive Leadership: Tools and Tactics for Changing Your Organization and the World
Ronald Heifetz, Alexander Grashow, and Martin Linksky
Comments, questions, requests, or suggestions? Please share them. They will be most welcome and I thank you for them. Best regards, Bob
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