Career success and job success is a function of your skills and abilities. If you are – or ever will be – in a supervisory job… in charge of a project…or chairing a committee… delegation skills are critical to success. Someday getting the job offer you want might hinge upon your ability to answer successfully the interview question “Tell me about how you delegate – how do you go about it?”! Interview preparation is job search tip #1!
Delegation is universally understood to be necessary to the success of any organizational unit. For delegation to be successful, however, it must be structured – a process must be determined and then followed.
To delegate successfully follow these guidelines from MindTools:
1. Articulate clearly the desired outcome. Specify the results that will make the effort a success. Include any “stakeholders” in the discussions leading to the definition of success for the effort. Provide initial timelines and deadlines.
2. Identify the degree of authority and accountability of each person involved.
3. Define who and when are the people involved to:
a. Develop a plan and ask for approval?…or
b. Develop a plan and proceed to implement, reporting status/results on what frequency?
4. Be sure authority and responsibility are in sync; if someone has the authority to act in a particular aspect of the project – he or she is also responsible for the results.
5. Delegate as far down in the organization as possible; the people closest to the action are in the best position to know what will work and what won’t.
6. Make answering procedural questions and clarifying issues a priority of all. You don’t want the process to come to a halt because someone can’t get an answer to a procedural question.
7. Don’t permit “upward delegation” to take place; where someone shifts responsibility upward or to you. When someone comes to see you with a problem – picture the issue as a monkey on his/her back. Don’t let that monkey jump on your desk, and then you are left with the monkey (the problem or issue)! Don’t answer such questions – ask questions instead as to possible approaches/solutions until they arrive at one you would agree with….then just nod approval!
8. Focus on results – not procedure, so long as procedures don’t exceed pre-determined parameters (cost, not a violation of any law, etc.). How you would do it is not necessarily the best way – if the right people are in the mix, the “how” should not be an issue.
9. Every now and then – there will be a glitch. That is, “the cow will get in the ditch”. This can be a great learning exercise – instruct whomever of the three-step process:
a. Get the cow out of the ditch.
b. Find out how the cow got into the ditch
c. Develop and implement procedures so it can’t happen again!
10. Have periodic meetings to discuss progress, stressing the objectives and what the desired results will have in terms of payoff for the organization and the team members. Review timelines and deadlines. Be sure to give recognition when earned. Document progress and distribute to all involved.
Successful delegation can only be achieved by understanding that it is a process that needs to be put into place and then followed religiously.
For further reading on the subject – go to http://www.mindtools.com/pages/article/newLDR_98.htm
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