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Start with Coaching to Master Delegation

Delegating a task to a subordinate staff member is not an easy task as many senior leaders would have imagined. Simply providing instructions is not enough to relieve you of your responsibility and freeing up a little time in your schedule. In reality, however, it is not that simple. We have witnessed leaders having to rush in at the last minute to save a botched deliverable because the employee did not do it right. And doing so would mean the employees will not have the opportunity to learn creative solutions. Employees end up being discouraged and believing whatever they do is not good enough.

Take an example of a top executive who has no time to write letters to his external constituents and therefore delegates the responsibility to another employee. The employee sends the letters to him for clearance before they are sent to their respective recipients. However, the letters are often returned to the employee with red lines under what should be corrected. The top executive will sometimes end up rewriting the letters himself. The employee will feel frustrated and think that whatever he writes will not please his boss. This kind of frustration has been experienced in many organizations, and it has been a great source of time wastage.

Leaders often feel disgruntled when they don’t receive the results they wanted. Simply handing over a task will not yield the desired outcome despite how clear the instructions might have been. There is a strategy to help leaders evaluate their employees’ skills to be responsible for the final deliverable. The two-step process entails first assessing how much the employee knows about the given task and then, secondly, delegating based on the employee’s competence level.

If an employee lacks the skills you are looking for, show them how it is done. The employee should be there to watch how it should be done and learn to do the task themselves next time.

If the employee only knows bits of the process, help them perform the task by adequately explaining each step. Ask questions where necessary, for instance, why doing a certain step is important and why one step has to come before or after another. This way, an employee will be able to have a better grasp of the process and will allow them to realize they know more than they think. Also be available to support those employees who are already capable of handling a task just in case they experience any unforeseen difficulties.

Delegation is a shared task and, therefore, it is important to assess the competence of your employees before delegating any tasks to them. It may take more time in the beginning, but in the long run, the results will be better. The tasks you delegate will come up finished and perfected.

 

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Sean Coyne

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