Successful Delegation Requires a Process

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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Leadership – Critical for Success – How to Excel in Your Job

Leadership – Critical for Success – How to Excel in Your Job

Peter Drucker said it all when he said, “Management is doing things right; leadership is doing the right things”. *

leadershipBoth are necessary for success… but leadership is harder to pursue and harder to attain.

Any road map for dynamic leadership will include:

1. Seeing the big picture. Picture in your “mind’s eye” the objectives of the organization (or your team, department or business unit). Don’t engage in or permit others to engage in any activity that doesn’t get you closer to achieving those objectives. Sure – every now and then a re-grouping is called for to get back on track… and every now and then some “pro bono” effort is needed….but don’t let extraneous “things” get in the way of pursuing the organization’s objectives.

2. Making sure subordinates are fully informed as to the objective(s) and buy into them. This often involves a discussion of “why”, “how” and “target numbers”.  Give them the parameters of action that can – and can’t – be taken; budgetary limits on spending and any other broad guidelines. Communicate clear and concise expectations of results.

3. Monitoring progress – but not hovering. Let staff do their thing… your monitoring is to prevent disaster, not minor mistakes or errors. “Doing things their own way” may well result in minor errors or mistakes. Make any mistake or error a learning process; risk-taking is inherent in the pursuit of success.  Remember – “You can’t make an omelet without breaking a few eggs!”

4. Measuring progress regularly. Benchmark progress against targets, and charge staff with developing plans to address shortfalls or to capitalize on above-target results. Guide their problem solving…but don’t do it for them.

5. Making sure every team member “sweats the small stuff”. One of John Wooden’s maxims for success is, “It’s the little details that are vital. Little things make big things happen”. Every team member needs to acknowledge that each and every task or action needs to be on-target, on-time and error-free. Sloppy execution is a sign of sloppy management. Sloppy management is a sign of poor leadership.

6. Recognizing and rewarding performance…publicly.  People like to be winners. The incremental achievement of targeted objectives determines who the winners are; it is the job of leadership to recognize and reward those individuals and teams. Create programs and mechanisms to regularly and publicly recognize those who achieve and set the standard for others.

OK… six components of effective leadership. Rate yourself on a 1-5 scale for each:

One or two points – I haven’t a clue where to begin

Three points – I am progressing but I have a ways to go

Four points – I am doing well!! Now it’s time to fine-tune

Five points –  Ain’t no such thing as a five… always room to improve.. give yourself a 4.7 or 4.8

Now – add up your points – maximum of 30 possible (6 x 5). Anything less than a twenty means you have your work cut out for yourself. Twenty-five or better – congratulations – Drucker would be proud of you. But don’t rest… keeping it going requires constant attention. Good luck!!

http://www.quotationspage.com/quotes/Peter_Drucker

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To The Kid On The End Of The Bench; Careers and Success Don’t Happen Overnight!

Careers and Success Don’t Happen Overnight!

A sign hangs on my office wall that is entitled “To The Kid At The End Of The Bench”. It has been on every office wall I have had since my first job with an office to sit in. It has been both a motivator as well as reminder.  A motivator to keep me on track and focused. A reminder that it takes time to achieve success. As the phrase goes “Rome Kid at end of the benchwasn’t built in a day”.

“To The Kid At The End Of The Bench” – powerful words….maybe hang them on your wall?

Champions once sat where you’re sitting, kid.

The Football Hall of Fame (and every other Hall of Fame) is filled with names of people who sat, week after week, without getting a spot of mud on their well-laundered uniforms.

Generals, senators, surgeons, prize-winning novelists, professors, business executives started at the end of the bench, too.

Don’t sit and study your shoe tops.

Keep your eye on the game.

Watch for defensive lapses.

Look for offensive opportunities.

If you don’t think you are in a great spot, wait until you see how many would like to take it away from you at the next spring practice.

What you do from the bench this season could put you on the field next season as a player, or back in the grandstand as a spectator.

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Want to Build a Great Team and Be a Great Motivator?

Want to Build a Great Team and Be a Great Motivator?

If so – you can take a page or two from John Wooden’s playbook.

woodenJohn Wooden was the legendary basketball coach at UCLA whose accomplishments are in the record book and will probably never be matched:

• 10 NCAA National Championships – 7 consecutively

• 4 30 and 0 seasons (4 perfect seasons)

• Inducted into the Basketball Hall of Fame as BOTH a player (1960) and coach (1973)

John died in 2010 at age 99… but his comments and homilies live on forever. John’s ability to build a basketball dynasty with “ordinary” talent was renowned. Part of his formula was to instill in his players a sense of responsibility, self-sacrifice and humility to meld them into a team. His quips and quotes are great training and motivational aids… use them in sales meetings… add them to your vocabulary to be a better communicator…use them to illustrate lessons when training and mentoring.

Being motivating translates into leading people beyond their envelope – their comfort level. It is done by instilling in them self-belief and self-confidence…and the ability to spring back from failure or setback.

No one was any better at it that Coach John Wooden. Make his comments your own!

  • “Treat all people with dignity and respect”.”
  • “Failing to prepare is preparing to fail.”
  • “Don’t let yesterday take up too much of today.”
  • “Be quick, but don’t hurry.”
  • “Never mistake activity for achievement”.
  • “Discipline yourself and others won’t need to.”
  • If you don’t have time to do it right, when will you have time to do it over?”
  • “You can’t let praise or criticism get to you. It’s a weakness to get caught up in either one.”
  • “Talent is God-given. Be humble. Fame is man-given. Be grateful. Conceit is self-given. Be careful.”
  • “Winning takes talent; to repeat takes character.”
  • Success is never final; failure is never fatal. It’s courage that counts.”
  • “Don’t measure yourself by what you have accomplished, but by what you should have accomplished with your ability.”

Take a look at John’s “Pyramid of Success”. It has been used by managers and coaches world-wide to illustrate the components of success.

john-wooden-pyramid1For further readings about John – see his biography “Wooden: A Lifetime of Observations and Reflections On and Off the Court” by John Wooden and Steve Jamison.

Wooden book cover

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Great Communication Skills – the Mark of Successful People!

Management is the process of getting things done through the efforts of other people utilizing available resources.

Leadership is the process whereby a person can obtain the support and actions of others to achieve a common goal; people follow leaders based in part on the belief that leaders can and will pave the way regardless of obstacles.

In both cases, successful managers AND leaders posses strong and effective communication skills.

What are some of the common characteristics of great communicators?

1. They are really good listeners. Not only to hear and understand but to also demonstrate sincere interest in what they are hearing and who they are hearing from. Being a good listener is not always easy – distractions abound both externally and within your mind. When you are listening, be careful you are not formulating your response  in your mind rather than listening. Strive for full understanding, and demonstrate that by asking questions. Don’t show signs of impatience; there is a polite friendly eye contactway to get someone who is stuck on a tangent back on target: “I think we have wandered off the reservation – let’s get back on track and focus on what you were saying.”

2. They maintain strong and frequent eye contact. This goes hand in hand with focusing on the person or persons you are listening to. To not do so is to tell the speaker “what you are saying isn’t really important to me”! Not exactly a trust-building characteristic! Your eye contact needs to be “friendly” vs “threatening”; no glaring and certainly not continual….the operational phrase is frequent friendly eye contact. The two photos show the difference between “friendly” and angry eye contact“threatening” eye contact! Make sure yours is of the friendly variety!

3. They develop a “delivery style” that is energetic, lively and above all articulate. If you are not all three of these – get started on achieving them. Read out loud in front of a mirror. Ask others if you are a mumbler or otherwise not as clear as the network newscaster on the evening news. If you constantly insert “um” and/or “ah” into conversation – you really need to work on that. Have someone you trust listen to you and snap their fingers when you make those sounds to alert you to how often you do so – you may not be aware of the extent of this impediment. When you feel one coming on…just pause for a moment and then continue. Most people that say “um” and “ah” are buying time to think of the next word… so just pause for a fraction of a second while that next word comes into mental focus. Eliminating these from your speech is critical to being a great communicator.

As for the energetic and lively aspects, great communicators exhibit body language that portrays confidence, enthuasism and a high energy level. They show a sense of humor, they smile, and they vary their timing for emphasis where emphasis is called for.

We all can be better commincators… but like most things …it requires focus and work. Good luck!

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Delegation Trains Everyone

The inability to delegate is one of the most common failings of managers. Management and leadership are all about getting results by organizing and supervising a workforce. Poor delegation or no delegation is inefficient and expensive. And the worst thing about not delegating is that managers are losing wonderful training opportunities for their delegationworkers.

Managers have many reasons for not delegating:

  • They feel at ease doing routine tasks rather than supervising the work of others.
  • They aren’t familiar with the skills of their workers and therefore unsure of other people’s ability to take more responsibility.
  • They hate correcting other people’s work.
  • They know they can do some things better than other people can.

Delegating is hard work, but it’s work that is needed to help an organization grow and improve. You can tell people what to do, you can show people what to do, but by far the best way to teach people is to simply let them do the work themselves. Delegation provides that training venue.

There are basically two good reasons to delegate:

  • It gets the work done more efficiently…and
  • It provides training and new experiences for members of work teams.

Renowned management consultant Andrew E. Schwartz says, “Too many managers waste both time and energy performing tasks an employee could perform just as well, thereby lowering productivity while raising operating costs. The answer to the problem is easy – delegation. However, many managers still limit their own effectiveness, time and energies, and fail to develop their subordinates by either ignoring or mismanaging the techniques of delegation.”

The ability to delegate tasks and control productivity simultaneously is an essential skill for managers. There are many pitfalls that can undermine efforts to delegate, but there are also some basic steps to help managers ease their workload through delegation while maintaining control.

There are five functions of an effective delegation and controls system:

  1. Planning and Goal Setting – If everyone is involved in the planning and goal setting of a project, it is more likely that everyone will buy into the work involved to bring the project to fruition – which makes delegation easier.
  2. Responsibility and Authority – Before delegating, everyone needs to know which way the responsibility flows. Who reports to whom? That question must answered for effective delegation. James G. Patterson, a business writer and faculty member of the University of Phoenix, advises, “Be prepared to supervise. All projects require regular monitoring – especially in the early stages. So do all employees. But some projects require more scrutiny than others, and some employees demand more direction. Here, too, it’s a matter of matching the task with the person.”
  3. Negotiation – “Can you do this?” If not – training is needed. Give and take is part of the delegation process.
  4. Consultation and Coaching – Think of consultation as the bedside manner of a physician taking the pulse of a family member. The manager needs to know how the patient is doing, and must make suggestions to improve the overall health of the project and that person’s performance.
  5. Review and Control – This is kind of like consultation and coaching, but from one step back. Reviewing project aspects and controlling the work and schedule insures continued progress towards worthwhile goals. In reviewing the project the results should be addressed; and the methods that were involved should be addressed only if they were inefficient or ineffective (or illegal!!).

Delegation can result in some mistakes being made, but mistakes can also be learning opportunities. The manager’s job is to monitor the work and progress so that any mistakes are caught and corrected before they become fatal to the project. Praise should be given for jobs well done. Each time delegation happens there is a chance that everyone will improve his or her performance and standing in the organization.

For more information about delegating – see “Successful Delegation – Using the Power of Other People’s Help”

http://www.mindtools.com/pages/article/newLDR_98.htm

And of course Wikipedia’s take on the subject:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Delegation

 

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The Art of Persuasion

Persuasion is the process of convincing others of the merits of your position, idea or issue thru presenting facts, the use of logic…and avoiding any inter-personal issues that could become distractions and thereby blocking your audience from seeing and persuasionthen accepting your argument. Persuasion therefore is a two-fold process.

1. Presenting your case:

a. Broadly state the outcome and success story that you believe will result if your course of action or plan is adopted and put into place. Be as specific as you can, but don’t make any “heads in the cloud” statements or promises. Be sure everyone understands your objective and the features and benefits of achieving it.

b. Outline briefly what the challenges and barriers to success are and what resources will be needed to implement or to proceed.

c. Proceed to present in suitable detail what it is that you propose…your idea, solution or course of action. In advance you need to have thought through how much detail is appropriate for your audience. Some audiences – bosses and others – want a great deal of detail… graphs – charts, etc. They are “numbers people” and need numbers to understand. Other audiences are “concept people” and just want to understand your concept and how things will generally work. Part of this depends on how much faith your audience has in you, your past history of being on target with ideas, decisions and actions.

d. You need to build your case step-by-step. Take the temperature regularly to ensure that you haven’t lost anyone along the way, saying something like “Everyone with me? Any questions? OK… let’s proceed.” Pay attention to your audience… and look for any signs of confusion and if questions reveal that an earlier point was missed…go back and cover that ground again. When you have fully made your presentation…do a quick review…ask if there are any more questions…and then ask the decision-maker(s) when you might expect a decision.

e. You also need to think through ahead of time what your presentation format will be; will you use visual aids such as a PowerPoint presentation, or some other graphics? And hand in hand with that is what kind of “leave behind” or handouts you will utilize. If you use a PowerPoint presentation, you can print all of the PowerPoint slides – six to a page – in color or in black and white. You also need to decide whether to distribute your handouts in advance… so that your audience can make notes on them.

2. Remember we said there are two aspects to persuasion? The second one is avoiding any inter-personal issues that could become distractions and thereby blocking your audience from seeing and then accepting your argument. An overview of these issues include:

a. Know who your audience is and what is at stake for each of them. For example, a plan to expand the use of technology and automaton may be great… but if it results in cutting staff, be aware that may be indeed a blow to someone’s turf…their power and influence in the organization. When a “stakeholder” has something to lose as a result of your plan, you may well benefit from talking with them in advance…saying something like “..when I make my pitch to the team tomorrow, it might have an adverse impact on part of your operation… but hear it out and we can then discuss its impact on your department.” Do an inventory of who is going to be involved with your presentation and the resulting decision to be made. What do they have at stake? What might their fears be? Be sure to address them in your presentation.

b. Be aware of whose handiwork you are going to modify or eliminate if that will be the impact of your proposal. Here too you may want to meet with them before the presentation and say something like “…I know that the data center was your baby and that you set it up…and wanted you to know that my proposal to the team tomorrow will have an impact on that…and I ask that you hear me out tomorrow.”

c. Finally… be sure to mentally be alert for any mannerism that annoy or frustrate people. Jingling the change in your pocket for the men… pulling at strands of hair for the ladies. Examine your speaking style for repetitive and annoying words and phrases such as saying “OK” after every sentence, and slang and lingo that might annoy others. Never, never use profanity or discriminatory words or phrases. Be 110% “politically correct”!!

Successfully persuading others involves influencing them. The late (and great) Cavett Robert, a world-renowned motivational speaker said “Influence is the ability to cause others to think, feel and act as we desire”. Use your powers of persuasion to influence your audience to adopt your proposal … or at the very least …as a springboard to modifying it for the benefit of the organization. Good Luck!!

If you want to know more of the art of persuasion – see the Wikipedia link:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Persuasion

And a great Forbes article on line:

http://www.forbes.com/sites/jasonnazar/2013/03/26/the-21-principles-of-persuasion/

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Enough is Enough!! Stop Talking and Let’s Get on With It !!

stop_talking_tshirtA major annoyance for most of us is a conversation with someone that never stops talking!

You almost have to wait until they take a breath to get a comment or question in!

Learning how and when to “shut up” is both a behavioral habit as well as a leadership trait.

According to  Mike Staver of The Staver Group – www.thestavergroup.com – many people don’t know when to talk and when to put a brake on it.

Here are a few questions to determine whether you know how to keep your mouth shut or not:

  •  After you make your point, do you just have to add a few other (unnecessary) comments?
  •  Do you say “in closing” several times before you really close?
  •  Do you have to have the last word in an argument or disagreement?

Here are some communications tips from Staver:

  •  Be clear about what you are attempting to communicate.
  •  Share with the person you are communicating with what you want to accomplish.
  •  Avoid getting distracted by other issues, ideas, points, stories, etc. (I refer to this as “wandering around the verbal landscape”! With folks that do this, you just want to scream “Stick to the point”!!)
  •  Use “talk-ending” techniques such as “So what are the next steps?” or use an example to wrap things up.
  •  Learn to tolerate silence. It is effective…and it won’t kill you, Staver says!

“Leadership – never stop learning”

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13 Common Behaviors of Trusted Leaders!

Without trust – organizational crisis!

Research shows that only 49% of employees trust senior management, and only 28% believe CEOs are a credible source of information.

Trust aOrganizational trust is critical for success – trust is the foundation for all successful relationships, both business and personal. If you are a manager and leader, one of your most important roles is to inspire trust. Trust in you, your motives  AND your organization.

Inspire – to affect – to guide – to bring about – to fill with enlivening emotion.

Inspiring trust is not an easy task. To be trusted as a manager and leader, you must demonstrate both character and competence:

Character includes integrity, honesty and how you are observed treating others. A manager/leader who has earned trust is viewed as a “good and honest person” as demonstrated by past words and deeds – by “history”. He or she is credible – up front with people.

Competence includes capabilities, skills and track record. Your actions and decisions need to demonstrate that you know what you are doing – that you understand the marketplace, understand people and that you are constantly looking for organizational opportunity.

The-Speed-Of-TrustStephen M.R. Covey (son of the late Stephen R. Covey) – in his landmark book The Speed of Trust: The One Thing that Changes Everything – talks of the “13 Behaviors of High-Trust Leaders.

Covey identified 13 common behaviors of trusted leaders around the world that build and then maintain trust. When individual leaders adopt these ways of behaving, it’s like making deposits into the “trust account” of another party.

Those 13 are:

1. Talk Straight: Tell the truth. Let people know where you stand. Demonstrate integrity.

2. Demonstrate Respect: Show you genuinely care. Respect everyone, even those that can’t do anything for you. Show kindness in little ways.

3. Create Transparency: Be genuine, open and authentic. Don’t hide information or have ‘hidden agendas’. Operate on the premise of ‘what you see is what you get’.

4. Right Wrongs: Apologize quickly. Make restitution where possible. Demonstrate personal humility. Don’t cover things up. Do the right thing.

5. Show Loyalty: Give credit to others. Be loyal to the absent. Represent others who aren’t there to speak for themselves. Don’t talk negatively about others behind their backs.

6. Deliver Results: Establish a track record of results. Accomplish what you are hired to do. Don’t over-promise and under-deliver. Don’t make excuses for not delivering.

7. Get Better: Continuously learn and improve. Increase your capabilities. Develop formal and informal feedback systems. Thank people for feedback. Act on feedback received.

8. Confront Reality: Meet issues head-on. Address the ‘tough stuff’ directly. Acknowledge the unsaid. Lead conversations courageously.

9. Clarify Expectations: Disclose and reveal expectations. Discuss and validate them. Renegotiate them if necessary. Ensure expectations are clear.

10. Practice Accountability: Hold yourself and others accountable. Take responsibility for good or bad results. Clearly communicate how everyone is doing.

11. Listen First: Listen before you speak. Listen with your ears, eyes and heart. Diagnose. Don’t assume, find out.

12. Keep Commitments: State your intentions and then do it. Make commitments carefully; make keeping your commitments the symbol of your honor. Don’t break confidences.

13. Extend Trust: Extend trust abundantly to those who have earned your trust. Extend trust conditionally to those who are earning your trust.

Wise words and a roadmap for every manager and leader. Keep the short list of these (talk straight, demonstrate respect, create transparency, etc.) in your mind as you go about your day. Better yet – get Covey’s book and read it!

Leadership – Never Stop Learning…….

Good luck!

Adapted from Crisis of Trust by Lori Williams of Creative Management Consultants

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The World’s Most Exclusive Fraternity — former U.S. Presidents

“The world’s most exclusive fraternity” is the tagline of a wonderful book by Nancy Gibbs and Michael Duffy entitled “The President’s Club”.

The President's Club book coverIt details the relationships between ex-U.S. Presidents and the incumbent. Regardless of what is said on the campaign trail, those men (and hopefully a woman one day soon!) all recognize the rigors of the job and that the advice and assistance of those that have walked the halls of The White House before can be both helpful and comforting.

The book is a great read – with “aha” stuff you never knew and a broad sprinkling of humor. It also details what happens when an ex-president outruns his blockers as Jimmy Carter did on more than one occasion!

Why do I devote space in this blog to it? Because it is also a series of great leadership lessons and illustrates that “only time will tell” how wise were certain decisions and how history now views former presidents compared to what the public thought in their first years out of office.

I strongly recommend the book…and you will learn from the successes and mistakes of these former presidents.

presidentsAnd while you are at it… take a look at the wonderful piece by David Shribman in The Salem News entitled “The new George H.W. Bush.” It talks of the work done by presidents after they leave office – their so-called “second lives”. John Quincy Adams served in Congress for several terms after leaving office…and with nothing to prove was at times a real pain to the incumbent at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue! Shribman’s article coverage also includes U.S. Grant, Harry Truman, James Garfield, Dwight “Ike” Eisenhower, Lyndon Johnson and Bush 41.

http://www.salemnews.com/opinion/x1912998280/Shribman-The-new-George-H-W-Bush

Leadership – never stop learning!

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