A delegation method that actually works

When I reflect on my leadership style, many things come to mind. While I try to coach and delegate, I tend to be more on the directive side. I try to lead by example, walk the talk etc., and often go further than the extra mile. I tend to be very practical and I prefer to stay at the higher level rather than get bogged down in the detail.

All of that being said, I’ve been challenged recently to look at how I delegate and how I empower the people around me. As a trained facilitator, I know that on many occasions, I will simply step into the facilitator role when I want to coach. I’ll ask questions and be supportive, rather than telling people what to do. It comes very naturally to me having spent many years facilitating workshops. But when asked what methodology have I found to be the most effective, I had to stop and think.

Over the years, I’ve learned quite a few tools for coaching and empowering teams. Some are obviously more complicated than others; some are only effective under certain conditions. Is there even one tool that I would say was the best, the most useful, the easiest? Not an easy question to answer.

After much contemplation, I whittled my potential answers down to a shortlist of three. How did I do it? I asked myself the following questions…

  • Which tool(s) were easy to learn and implement?
  • Which tool(s) could be adapted to the different leadership styles?
  • Which tool(s) worked regardless of the person being coached?
  • Which tool(s) had the best results?
  • Which tool(s) were I most comfortable with?

Once I’d done that, how to choose from the top 3? Well, when in doubt, keep it simple. Therefore, I give to you, The GROW model by Sir John Whitmore. If you already know the method, you’ll note I’ve added to it in the picture below. It’s how I connected to it, so it’s how I deliver it… You can also find more information from the founders here: https://www.performanceconsultants.com/grow-model

When I think about the various people I’ve mentored over the years, I’ve noticed one very important thing. The best workers tend to love to solve problems – and they hate being micromanaged. If I gave someone a task, they would do the task and no more. If I gave them a problem, they would solve it. I think that’s why I like the GROW model. It lends itself to problem solving.

Of course, when you’re in execution mode, you naturally think in terms of critical tasks, but good delegation requires you to think in terms of outcomes. What is the GOAL? Please note, when empowering teams, your goal might not be the one your team would choose. So you have to be willing to debate the problem and what it would look like when fixed. As an example, let’s imagine that a customer needs a delivery expedited. Some would say the goal would be to expedite the delivery as much as possible. You could argue though, that the goal would be to manufacture and deliver the product to the customer without additional costs being incurred. You could also argue that as long as the customer gets what they need before the crunch date, then that is the goal. The difference between them is perspective. Exploring the different perspectives and establishing the expected goal is crucial to ensuring that everyone gets what they need and that the end result is what you are expecting.

Of course, sometimes you can’t define the goal without truly understanding the current REALITY. Depending on the person you are delegating to this can take many different forms. Some need to reflect and consider, diving in the detail of the problem before feeling comfortable discussing goals. Others might need a more social approach, debating and questioning the different aspects of the current situation together. Either way, making sure that the person you’re delegating to truly understands the issue and all of its ramifications is key!

Options, Options, OPTIONS. I’m going to be honest and say this is the part that I like. If your team member is struggling with this, then questions really do help. Remember all options are acceptable. There are no wrong ideas!

  • What else could you do?
  • What are the options?
  • What has already been tried?
  • Have you encountered something similar and how did it work out?

Finally, you need to get commitment. This is the WILL to take the problem to the finish line. You can even help them to map out the action plan, or ask them to show you the plan. Again, questions can help here.

  • What resources do you need
  • How will you know it is complete?
  • What is your first step?
  • What is the timeframe we are looking at?

So, what do you think? Sounds easy, right? Without empowered teams, you have a bunch of robots who don’t know what to do when you aren’t there. You’ll end up doing the lion’s share of the work and you will be unable to scale up or grow your business. Obviously there are other methods for delegating, and you may not agree with my favorite, but at the very lest, I hope this blog has made you stop and think on how you delegate and on how you and your teams are going to be successful.

Hope this helps!

Alesandra Blakeston

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