Posts tagged delegation
How to Find the Right Person and Train Them, Part II

Finding the right person to delegate to may not be enough. Often, that person – experienced or not – is going to need to learn new concepts and skills to do their job correctly and efficiently.

One of the first questions you want to ask is, “what do you need to learn in order to do this task properly?” Once s/he has responded, add whatever you feel may still be missing. At that point, work to determine how s/he is going to get the needed training.

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How to Find the Right People and Train Them, Part I

Part of determining who to delegate tasks to will depend on who you have available as well as your purpose and intent when delegating. For example, tasking something to a new hire that you are looking to groom may look very different from asking a seasoned member of the team to complete the same task. One may be better equipped to do it today than the other, but that may not be your primary consideration.

Here are some factors to consider when seeking to identify the right candidate for delegation.

  1. The experience, knowledge and skills of the individual. What knowledge, skills and attitude does the person already have? How do they match up to the task at hand? What will they need to learn? Do you have time and resources to provide any training needed?

  2. The person’s current schedule and workload. Does the person have time to take on more work? Will this task require reshuffling of other responsibilities and workloads?

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Focus on Expertise Over General Knowledge

It's hard to run when you can barely walk.

Or read fluently when you struggle to decode.

Or pull things together when each individual task is complicated and onerous.

Last week, I was walking on a sidewalk made from decades-old slate tiles. Between the rain and wet pollen, it made for a treacherous walk.

I slipped a bit on each step and had to walk much more slowly and gingerly than usual.

Walking went from an automatic, subconscious act to a conscious one that required thought and consideration.

My mind, which is free to think, was held captive by my need to get home safely.

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When NOT to Delegate

As valuable as delegation can be, there are times where it’s simply not advisable. The following list presents when it’s better to not delegate but rather keep the project for yourself:

  1. The task has not been fully thought through – If you aren’t able to explain the task and its goals in concrete terms, then you have more work to do before handing it off to someone else to accomplish.

  2. The project must be done in a specific way – In some situations, such as an intricate project that you developed and possess intimate knowledge of, delegation may create more problems than benefits.

  3. It takes more time for explain what to do than to just do it yourself – This assumes that this is a one-off project that just needs to be done and taken off the list. A recurring project or one that will provide opportunity for meaningful subordinate development should not be included in this list.

  4. When you really enjoy doing it – There’s nothing wrong with doing some things that can be taken over by others but still provide you with a positive burst of motivation or excitement, such as greeting students and parents in carpool. But learn to limit these so that you can ensure that you’re still doing the work that you really need to be doing.

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How to Decide What to Delegate

In our last post on delegation, we focused on situational leadership and how it impacts the role a leader plays in transferring work and responsibility to others. In this post the focus will shift to when one should delegate, and when one shouldn’t.

Choosing tasks to delegate can be trickier than it seems. There are some tasks, such as high-risk or crisis-related activities, that leaders should never delegate. Other responsibilities, including those that will be performed once or rarely and require much guidance and direction, should also not be included.

To determine when delegation is most appropriate, consider these key questions:

  1. Is this a task that someone else can do, or is it critical that you do it yourself?

  2. Is there someone else who has (or can be given) the necessary information or expertise to complete the task?

  3. Does the task provide an opportunity to grow and develop another person's skills?

  4. Is this a task that will recur with some frequency, in a similar form, in the future?

  5. Do you have enough time to delegate the job effectively and stay on top of things? Time must be available for adequate training, for questions and answers, to check in on progress, and to re-imagine/rework when necessary.

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How circumstances affect delegation

In an earlier blog post, I shared some reasons that so many leaders do not delegate more often and presented arguments why they should. I also spelled out seven steps to more effective delegation. In this article, I will delve into who to consider when seeking to delegate tasks and projects.

“The way you delegate is that first you have to hire people that you really have confidence in. You won't truly let those people feel a sense of autonomy if you don't have confidence in them," Robert Pozen said.

Though the term delegation may be defined consistently as the shifting of responsibility for a task or project from one person (usually a leader or manager) to another, the situations in which it is applied can vary greatly. And in many cases, the leader is doing something very different than delegating.

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