As the saying goes, ‘no man is an island’ but if you’re a manager, team leader or project head, you’ll have the luxury of employees around you to share the load. While having staff at your disposal is a great advantage, how you delegate can dramatically affect the outcome of your colleagues’ work.
Although Bond Williams has four golden rules when it comes to delegation, the art of asking other people to help you achieve a goal needs to be underpinned by respect and humility, from the first email to a debrief at the end. Our four following points will help you delegate with ease rather than ‘dump’ on your colleagues:-
Language you use – don’t let the power of being able to delegate go to your head, and that means even jokey terms like ‘my minions’ are strictly off limits. Start by asking those who you intend to delegate to if they’re free to take on extra work and if they’re happy to do the tasks you have in mind – if you tell, assume or expect, you’ll set a negative tone.
It can also help if you complement colleagues and acknowledge they have the skills or attitude needed to get the job done at the start of the delegation process. And don’t forget to use ‘team’ and ‘together’ to avoid an ‘us and them’ mentality developing – reinforce the message that you’re all working towards a common goal and that you, as the delegator, are also pulling your weight.
Many delegators forget to thank those they have relied upon when a project is delivered or target met, so show some gratitude at the end and your colleagues will repay you the next time you need some help.
Clear direction – a blanket email to everyone in a department or project team isn’t the best way to start the delegation process, especially if it doesn’t address anyone specifically or fails to outline each individual person’s responsibilities.
While a group email can be a good way of getting a project started and informing everyone of who is involved, delegating needs to be done on a one-to-one level – face-to-face if you can. You need to be very clear who is responsible for what areas, what needs to be achieved, how much detail is required, what the deadlines are and the resources available.
Management style – finding the right balance between two distinctive styles of management may make or break your delegation outcome. Micromanagement – where by a manager closely observes and controls the person they have passed the work on to – goes against the very grain of delegation and can highlight one of two things: that the wrong person has been chosen to delegate to or the person that is delegating has trust/control issues.
At the other end of the spectrum, however, macro management – where the delegator manages from afar – can be too hands off and this translates as a lack of support or even laziness from the delegator. If your colleagues feel you’re shirking and not working, there will be an air of resentment that infuses their quality of work.
Prepare detailed briefs – delegating takes times and it’s prepping the job for a handover that puts many people off delegating in the first place. Don’t fall in to the trap of glossing over the details in a bid to get started though. Preparing a detailed brief will ensure you get the best from your colleagues and will give them the ability to work as autonomously as possible.
A good a manager, however, will always be available to answer questions, check progress and guide staff, without prejudice. If your colleagues find themselves out of their depth but they feel unable to ask for help, delegating will become a false economy.
For more workplace advice, contact Bond Williams today.