We have so far defined how the process of Delegation works and what Is important to be ensured by the leader to make it happen. The next step in this process is more connected with the question:
How the leader ensures that the delegation process is successful?
To answer this question, as a leader you should adopt certain competencies and behaviors to ensure success.
There is a lot written on this topic I’ve read more than 150 articles on the topic and have experimented during the last 5 years, to form an understanding of how effectively to support this process.
Here are the steps that worked for me, and I’m offering to you as a leader to help you succeed in the process of delegating tasks to others:
Give full responsibility to the person
If you pass on a task, without assigning responsibility you are planning to fail. In a fast-moving world like today’s people are focused and finishing tasks only if they clearly know and understand that it is their responsibility. If you miss assigning responsibility you will witness poor performance on the task and not satisfying results.
Focus on results
As someone who delegates, you should focus on the required result and nothing more. Clearly, state the outcome and explain what must be achieved, how will the result be measured and how will you decide if the job is successfully finished or not. The person, you are delegating to, has to decide on the path that has to be taken to complete the task. Your role in the process should only be to offer to coach and mentoring when required from them. The extent to which you will have to perform your role will become evident through the regular reviews you set for progress tracking and feedback.
Provide needed resources
Often in order to complete the task, the person needs to interact with other departments within the organization. If you have a similar situation then you must ensure that the person who you delegated to has enough information about people in the organization that can help on task completion.
Remember that the success of every task depends on what resources are offered for ensuring completion. As a leader, it is your responsibility to ensure that appropriate resources are in place.
Structure positive and constructive feedback
A significant aspect of any task completion is communication on progress. For this type of conversation, you must realize that it helps only if it is timely and constructive. The use of positive messages in your feedback will generate more respect and will boost cooperation. These are very useful if you see that things are not going as per plan. If focusing on how to solve the challenges emerged, rather than looking on how to blame for the job not done you are more likely to succeed in task completion.
When the person, you have delegated, feels that it has your full support, it will expend more effort to ensure a successful outcome.
Do not allow reverse delegation
When the person you have delegated encounters a problem they usually refer back to you. In these moments the most difficult part is to resist the temptation to take control over the task. It will be better to offer several possible solutions, but let the person decide on which solution will be implemented. If you take back the control over this task at this point you will fail in a win-lose situation If you succeed with the task then completion will become your responsibility , but if you fail – the person who you took the task from will stop trusting you and will unlikely inform you if future problems or challenges occur.
Provide support and backup when a need
Schedule actively your involvement from the beginning to ensure that you will be available if the task requires your input. The most important element here is to build trust into the person who you delegated the task so that it has all your support.
Structure your monitoring process
After establishing this support pillar you should start informing yourself by reading and discussing task progress reports. When reading and discussing don’t make it personal, try to be as objective as you can. State clearly that you expect full openness.
Listen carefully to the person completing the task to understand if he/she is open and honest to you. If you identify some signs that this doesn’t happen initiate a conversation to understand why.
Use your questioning skills to be able to identify inconsistencies that may provide early signs of potential or real problems.
To establish a higher level of openness, when exchanging your brief, ask for a delegate’s agreement to an initial opportunity to receive feedback if he/she has or sees any concerns or issues. By showing a willingness to receive feedback you send a positive signal that you are honest and open to exchange and that this step is an integral part of the delegation process for you.
One way to ensure that you have safeguarded yourself against challenges and problems is to use a variety of tools as part of your monitoring process such as e-mails, meetings, team sessions, informal chats, networking, review sessions, etc.
Watch for the over-reporting trap
One of the problems that may occur when monitoring task completion is the risk of over-reporting. This risk often occurs when the complexity of the task increases.
The over-reporting of progress on the task often occurs while people are optimistic on the task completion and the leader encourages them to give different slices of the same information. Over-reporting often leads to a situation where the progress of the task communicated is not more than 80-90% of the current stage of completion. One of the ways to minimize or avoid over-reporting is to implement progress measures by objective, rather asking for a subjective estimation.
In most cases, you, as a leader and delegator, should recognize the over-reporting trap. Do not expect from the team or the delegated person to open share this information with you.
There is no perfect process. It is up to the leader, to make it perfect for its reality and environment by adapting key milestones there. So, if you are an advancing leader ready to challenge self and others you should not ignore all the small things that can make a difference in the process of Delegation for you and your team.
Go the last mile of the delegation process journey
Leadership skills – Delegating part 4 – Why you should not forget reviewing the delegation process after the task is completed