You’ve had your promotion – you are now in a position of management… you have a team who are doing what you used to do.  You are an expert in what they do.  You are so good at it and that is why you are now leading the team… so how do you now change what it is that you are doing?  You have taken on more responsibility, you are at meetings with the other senior management team, you are influencing at the top table… but somehow you also keep on doing what you were doing before – because you are so good at it.

This is a scenario I often hear from my clients in their coaching sessions.  How then can you comfortably move away from having hands-on control, and trusting that your team can do this for you.  You have to come ‘up a level’ or else you will not do your new job so well… You won’t have time to think strategically if you keep helicoptering down to fix everything that is going on with the work-load in the team you are now managing.

So this brings us to the art of delegation.  How can you delegate what is so important to you, so that it is still done well?  How can you let someone else do what you know you are so good at?

Well, to some extent, it is a leap of faith.  There is an amount of trust going on there, and they may get it wrong… but they will learn and may even surprise and delight you.   You will be grateful for the reflected achievement of your team…. and there are some steps that you can put in place that will ensure that the delegated task is done well from both of your points of view.

Your Approach:  You need to come at this with a golden assumption that the person you are delegating to is an intelligent, capable person who is trust worthy to get the job done.  Understand as well that when done properly, delegation is a form of empowerment and is great for staff morale; it actually increases staff confidence and productivity…. and of course frees you up to do more important things.

Before you Delegate: Write down answers to the following points:

  1. Positive Statement about the Desired Outcome or Result.  What is it specifically that you want doing?  Be as detailed as you can be.  Once you are in a position where you trust the person, you can give them free reign to do it their way and be less specific.
  2. Guidelines/Constraints – are there any rules, processes, regulations or standards to be followed – constraints which are set in place and must be worked within?  When does it need to be done by? Where does it need to be done?
  3. Resources – are there any resources available – other people, money, time, equipment, etc that can be used?
  4. Accountabilities/Responsibilities – Who is accountable for what and where do the accountabilities stop?  Who is responsible for doing what?  What are the limits of the empowerment; modify to whatever comfort level you’re at with them / and/or let them come to you when they’re stuck; what needs to be checked with you first?  Also consider whether you want briefing daily/weekly, empowerment: modify to whatever comfort level you’re at with them / and/or let them come to you when they’re stuck.  It may be appropriate to use a project Work Package template.
  5. Consequences What are the consequences for the person, for company, for you, etc., if it does or does not happen. If they know why they’re doing something, it helps them understand the priority: if it is something that does not have a natural priority (such as a ranked business case), then make sure the delegate understands the priority of this task/job over other activities.

Once you have the answers to these 5 points, you’re ready to sit down with them and go through it, answer any questions and hand the task over to them.  It is important that when you’re following up with them on progress, etc, that you adopt a ‘Coach Approach’; rather than dive in to fix something that is not right yourself; ask questions to see what ideas they can come up with to correct it themselves.  They will not do it the same way you will, but that does not mean that it is not as well done, or even better.

If you’d like to talk more about a coach approach for your organisation, or find out about our business packages, please do get in touch and we’d be happy to discuss how it can work for you.

Look out for our next blog post which will be about Situational Leadership; adapting your style of leadership to the individual and the task at hand.