Last week we looked at setting the stage for effective delegation. This week we’re considering how to follow up to ensure that your delegation is successful.
Effective delegation does not mean things will never go wrong. If a task is not on-track, avoid the temptation to take the work back and complete it yourself. Your staff member cannot learn how to do a task properly if they know you will take it back at the first sign of a problem. You should also give a clear message that your staff should come to you when they encounter problems. Your staff should feel confident that they can come to you with a problem and you will help them solve it. You might like to try talking to them in these terms:
- If something goes wrong, I want to hear about it from you and not from someone else;
- If something goes wrong, we will work together to find a solution and fix it;
and, as they develop their skills,
- If something goes wrong, come and tell me about it and propose a solution for us to fix the problem together.
Patience and calmness are essential. If your staff are frightened of your response, they won’t tell you when things go wrong until they become crises. Small, solvable problems can quickly become serious if they are not dealt with early. If you calmly work with your staff member to find a solution, they will build their problem-solving skills. They will be more likely to be able to propose a solution when they tell you about a problem and will learn to solve problems for themselves.
Finally, as you contemplate delegating, reflect on times when your managers delegated to you effectively. Recall how you felt when you were first asked to take responsibility for a significant piece of work. Probably you felt happy, proud and more than a little nervous. What did your manager do to help you get started? How did you know what was expected of you? How did they check back in with you? How did they react when things went wrong? Be mindful of your own experience as you delegate to your staff.
Next week, we’ll look at the interesting issue of capture, and when delegation arrangements need to be refreshed.