It should come as no surprise that growth in a company is often directly related to how effectively leaders and managers delegate and are able hold people accountable. The more effective the "hand off" to others, the more aligned everyone becomes and are able to work together towards the same goal. The less effective the delegation, the more likely people are to find that they're out of sync with everyone else.
Here are some tips to make the "hand off" easier for you: 1. Knock before you delegate. Ask your subordinate: "When would be a good time where you will be able to give me your undivided attention?" You may think, "I don't need to ask their permission to talk with them." However, by asking for their undivided attention in this way, you're being respectful and you prevent catching them by surprise. When that happens they will often react off balance, and with that reaction you may lose confidence in them.
2. Tell them WHAT, WHEN and WHY you need them to do something. "Be clear on your specific expectations," says Billy Pittard, media architect at Pittard Inc., "because if you aren't, they'll set their own and will usually be wrong." Such a misunderstanding will frequently lead to staff working hard, doing the wrong thing and then feeling upset when you tell them later it's not what you wanted. Furthermore, when you explain why you need them to do something, it demonstrates your respect for them as a member of the team, rather than just another employee. In addition, make a point of having them repeat back what you said to make sure they understood you correctly. The act of repetition will deepen their commitment, increase your confidence in them, and enable you to begin to let go of control.
3. Ask them if they have the skills necessary and capacity. Too often managers think a subordinate is being resistant, stubborn, or lazy when in fact they don't have the skills or the capacity, such as time and other resources, to do the job. You may need to go over what they will need for the task and this inventory will also help you feel more confident in their abilities.
4. Free them up. Ask them if there is something they need to free up some of their time, such as speaking to a colleague on their behalf or reassigning a different task. Your staff may be afraid to tell another leader that they can't do something for him and instead they will take on more than they can handle, stressing out.
5. Hope for the best, plan for mishaps. Stan Barkey, principal of Stan Barkey Consulting, advises to end your conversation by saying: "In the event that you are unable for any reason to do what I have asked by the time I have asked you, how shall I act with you, since my principal concern is not to punish you, but to get it the job done?" Repeat what they say to you, ask if you have heard them correctly and wait for a confirmatory "Yes." This confirmation will once again deepen their commitment, further increase your confidence, and relieve more of your angst about letting go. Morevoer, if they do hit a bump in the road, use that intervention with them to get them back on track.
And if you have made it all the way to here, the next step is for me to delegate these steps to you and for you to write back and share how they have worked.
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About the Author: Mark Goulston is the author of Just Listen: Discover the Secret to Getting Through to Absolutely Anyone (AMACOM) and several other books. He is a psychiatrist, business consultant and executive coach, and a columnist for Huffington Post and Fast Company. He also writes the syndicated column "Solve Anything with Dr. Mark" for Tribune Media Services.