How do you delegate, or share out, work and responsibilities?
In a recent in-house workshop I introduced the concept of milestones on the way to achieving goals. During the tea break one of the participants (let’s call him Thabo) asked me to help him work out what milestones would make sense for his team’s goal. As we spoke we wrote together on a flipchart.
The milestones revealed themselves as he explained the process they were following to reach the goal. A few well-chosen questions revealed the key milestone measurements that would help check progress, and a tracking matrix developed. As I filled in the numbers that Thabo had at his fingertips he could see that they were falling behind.
I asked if we could continue from that point after tea so that we could involve the others.A few more questions and some input from the others and Thabo had come up with a strategy to get back on track, and the steps to prevent future slippage. In a short space of time we had made the situation visible and co-created a strategy.
Thabo’s excitement and enthusiasm was a joy to see. Feedback the next day showed he had got started that same afternoon with the actions required to enable the catch up.
This all took place in a workshop but it’s just the same as I would have done in my office, with my own team, when I was in management. Except the flipchart would probably have been an exam pad. These days so many offices have lovely whiteboards, or glass, that one can draw on, making wonderful spaces for getting clarity together.
The next piece of the workshop was about what and how to delegate to get great results. I took the opportunity to use Thabo’s goal as a piece of delegated work and to check off with the group whether the key elements of effective delegation had been met.
Did Thabo know why he was doing it?
Did he know what was expected, including any parameters or standards that needed to be met?
Had it been given to the right person? Was it real work that would let him use his strengths? Work that wasn’t too easy and yet wasn’t too big a stretch as to totally discourage him? (Who)
Did he understand by when it was required and had we agreed on interim touch points to check in on progress?
Lastly, and so importantly, had I held back from dictating how he should do it? Did he have the freedom to do it in his own way whilst respecting standards and deadlines? Did he have the required tools and sufficient authority?
When appropriate work is explored in this way it engages the employee(s); they become excited, enthusiastic, energised; they are able to bring their own strengths and style to their work; and they are much more likely to take responsibility.
Why does it work? It works because the three dimensions of engagement: aligned intention, effective connection and synergistic action are all enabled.