Five-Step Delegation

My recent collaboration Sean Murray at RealTime Performance has produced a one-day seminar for new managers at his Fortune 500 clients. Creating the program required that we narrowly focus some existing training components to help people who have never supervised others before.

The delegation process was one key area that was simplified. It’s a potential land mine for new managers because they must learn to (a) effectively handoff work and (b) manage that work while it is in process.

We reduced delegation to five simple steps that are easy to remember. Those are set out below.

Delegation Checklist

  • Determine What Can Be Delegated – Get yourself organized, then determine what can be delegated. Factors in this decision include the skill sets required to accomplish tasks, the level of interest or challenge in the work, and the best use of available personnel.
  • Define Deliverables and Deadlines – Give the delegate specific and reasonable guidance with respect to stated expectations. Set parameters around the work and give the delegate a yardstick to use while doing the work.
  • Discuss Details & Ownership – Prepare for the delegation meeting and schedule enough time to properly hand off the work. The better the work is explained the first time, including its background and your expectations, the fewer mistakes that will be made, and the fewer questions will arise midstream to potentially delay the job’s completion. Next, ownership can be delegated at several levels:
    • (a) return with information and materials for the manager to make decision,
    • (b) return with information and materials for a discussion and collaborative decision, or
    • (c) see task to completion and report back with results.
  • Direct Workflow & Progress – Seek updates to demonstrate interest in progress and (1) give delegate greater pride in the work, and (2) provide ample opportunity for ongoing feedback about the work being performed. Also, report up the change of command to ensure those above are kept apprised of progress and any potential pitfalls.
  • Debrief If Appropriate – Debrief with the delegate whenever the project merits it. Ask: What went well? What could have gone better? These are opportune moments to greatly improve both work product and working relationships.

Keep it Simple to Get it Done

Ensure effective delegation by creating a checklist in Word, OneNote, etc., so you can work through this list every time you must delegate a piece of work.

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