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

Delegation and me…

0010354635U-565x849I’ve been thinking about delegation a lot recently.  My work life has become very busy with the influx of the new interns, and since I’m currently recruiting to fill a vacant position in my team as well, you can imagine how hectic life is.   I’m needing to delegate more and more and I worry that I am delegating boring and repetitive tasks, rather than delegating interesting and fulfilling work that will develop the interns.

I saw this blog post yesterday by Danielle Rainbolt, which lead to an interesting post about leadership: Top 10 things I wish I knew the day I became a leader by David Peck. David lists 10 things that I also wish I had known 10, 15 years ago.  It would have made my life so much easier!  Number 7 on his list however was about delegation:

Delegation is about trusting someone with responsibility and verifying they are handling it responsibly.

Obviously I agree with this statement.  For me it is quite obvious.  However, I then went on to read another blog post, this time specifically about delegation by author wotuw8ing4.  He quotes My Coach Bob:

Delegation is about giving away a project, not giving away a task

It made me think, so I started to analyse exactly what I delegate, why I do it and how I can do it better.

0010051796Q-849x565Why should I delegate?

Primarily most people delegate because:

No one can do everything; delegating frees you up to do other tasks.  When you quit worrying about minor tasks, it allows you to do more strategic work.  Highly paid people should not be doing low-skill work

Does that sound about right?  However, I’d like to point out that just because you are highly paid, it doesn’t mean that

Someone else cannot do your work better

So as Coach Bob said, perhaps we should be delegating projects rather than tasks.  This will aid in career development for your team; they will hone their skills by doing the work, and they will feel more fulfilled.  In addition, by delegating a project, you will have even more free time than if you delegated individual tasks.  They feel empowered and a culture of trust is developed.

0010357464U-849x565So then, when don’t I delegate?

Here’s my list – obviously yours might be different:

  • When I would be annoyed by being given that task to do.  I try to live by the adage “Never ask someone to do something that you would not be prepared to do yourself.”
  • When it takes longer to explain something than it would to do something.
  • When the work is beyond someone’s capability.
  • When there is a confidentiality issue.
  • When there is a lot at stake and I want to keep the control.

Obviously, I will continue to keep in place the first point on the list, but I am going to start to challenge the other points more.  Even if it might take longer to explain, or even if it is currently beyond someone’s capability, long-term it can still be better to delegate the work.  The more trained my team is, the better they will perform.

As for the confidentiality aspect, if you don’t trust your team, well they shouldn’t be your team!

The final point is difficult for me, and I suspect for others as well.  The higher the stakes, the harder it is to trust and to delegate, especially with a team of interns who do not have the same experience in the work environment.  Still, I am going to challenge myself on this issue as well.  The more you control, the less likely your team is going to be innovative and creative.  If you allow your team to choose their projects, manage their own time, and give them latitude to make decisions and take action without consulting you first then new leaders will naturally emerge.

My delegating plan

0010791924M-1920x1280 (Medium)

I am going to try to find balance between delegating repetitive tasks and missions / projects

I am going to trust my team more

I am going to continue to expand the capabilities of my team more and delegate even when it will initially cost me more time

I am going to meddle less and allow more innovation in my team and watch as new leaders emerge

What about you?

Alesandra Blakeston