delegatingBefore you had the power to delegate assignments to others, its possibilities sounded great.  Who wouldn’t want to give work to others so they can focus on the things or projects they like best?

Then reality hits. Effective delegation requires skill and consideration. If not handled well, you run the risk of missing the mark. The perceived loss of control means you can’t focus on every last detail. Holding on to the work can be overwhelming and threatens the nimbleness required to deal proactively with your priorities. The challenges are even greater when the pressure is on and work is assigned without discussion, and orders are delivered rather than negotiated.

Effective delegation should include a conversation that includes asking questions and listening to answers instead of barking orders. That does not mean, however, that discussions and follow up have to be lengthy.

Tips for Creating the Time and Space for Effective Delegation

1. Be bold. Cancel half of the meetings currently on your calendar. Keep only the ones that have clear objectives and outcomes that are directly aligned with making progress towards key business results. This will free up time to focus on your priorities and create opportunities for better delegation of remaining work.

2. Focus on the beginning and end. Start each discussion by asking: “What do we want to have happen as a result of this work?” Close by asking: “Did we achieve what we planned to achieve?”

3. Set clear expectations. Clearly define tasks when they are being assigned and delegated. Establish boundaries and ongoing measures of incremental success.

4. Create accountability. Ensure all team members are able to get ongoing feedback on steps 2 and 3 above. Ask them to plan in methods to gather feedback so that they are able to see incremental changes over time. This helps determine how delegated work is going over time rather than just at the end of the work.  Ask them to gather examples of success.

5. Conduct The 3-Minute Meeting™

  • 3-minute meetings are designed to help people talk about an accomplishment and how they were able to achieve the accomplishment. This helps set up clear accountabilities and helps shape incremental improvement over time.
  • Employees who talk about what they do that leads to success help others know what they need to say and do to achieve success. It helps others proactively change what they do rather than reactively respond to fires that are often the result of a passive approach to change in the first place.

The 3-Minute Meeting is a tool that can help facilitate effective delegation of assignments among you and your team.  It provides a science-based approach for leaders to use that leverages the power of positive reinforcement, and puts employees and leaders on a path to achieving results quickly and effectively. In that short amount of time, leaders can describe the work that needs to be performed, offer some suggestions for getting started and ask what more is needed to accomplish the task.

In addition to applying the tips above, end each conversation with a value question: discuss the value of the interaction in objective and specific terms. An honest feedback loop during this process helps the group improve future handoffs and reminds them what needs to be in place to ensure future successful attempts at delegation.

Who manages your day anyway? It’s time to take control of what is important to you and help others focus on what needs to be delegated. Put the time on your calendar. Avoid firefighting and having to deal with things beyond your control.

Delegation can help you expand your influence by assisting others who can take charge and control a particular problem, process or issue. Using these antidotes will help you create a proactive approach to your work and to delegated work. It also helps you avoid the traps and pitfalls that inadvertently surround you.

Don’t just let things happen. Plan your success, and through delegation help plan the success of others. The choice is yours.

For more on The 3-Minute Meeting™ read Rapid Change: Immediate Action for the Impatient Leader.