Delegation 101: Assume Nothing

DelegationRule number one when working with others is to assume nothing because it may make an ass out of u and me. But mostly me because I took you at your word, that you understood what needed to be done and how I wanted you to go about doing it. People aren’t born knowing what they need to know. Always keep in mind that if you haven’t taught someone the way you want it done – don’t assume they will know how.

Worth Remembering … In the digital age you need to make knowledge workers out of every employee possible. – Bill Gates 

You may not be able to delegate all the tasks that you do, but you should be able to delegate most of them. I know you can come up with a 1001 excuses why you shouldn’t delegate, but think of it this way. If you don’t delegate some of your tasks you are robbing someone of their opportunity to grow. Do you hire stupid people or do they just get stupid after working for you? Your role as a manager or business leader is to teach others what you know. Your role is not to create followers but to create other leaders. And you can’t do that if you aren’t delegating some of your tasks.

Worth Remembering ... You establish some objectives for them, provide some incentive, and try not to direct the detailed way in which they do their work. – David Packard

Here are 8 easy steps to delegating more effectively:

1 – Decide what you want to delegate: You need to be very clear on what task they are going to do and make sure you give them all the tools they’ll need to be able to perform that task.

2 – Decide who you are going to delegate to: Who is capable, and more importantly, who is willing to take on more responsibility?

3 – Create a “Teachable Moment”: Demonstrate the task – then have them perform the task while you observe – and once you think they can do the task satisfactorily – have them do it one more time for good measure.

4 – Ask questions to ensure that learning has taken place: You need to ask some good open-ended and closed questions to make sure they know what needs to be done. Be sure to give them the opportunity to ask questions too.

5 – Monitor their performance: Follow-up, follow-up, follow-up. Make it a point to check-in on the person shortly after leaving them on their own, just to make sure they are performing the task satisfactorily.

6 – Keep the lines of communication open: Let them know you are there to help – if and when – they want it. Resist the urge to micro-manage.

7 – Hold the person accountable for the results: Standards, like quality, are not open for debate. You must hold people accountable for the results and not accept anything that doesn’t meet your standard. If they think they can get away with less than satisfactory work – then they will.

8 – Praise performance: Recognize what has been accomplished and be quick to offer praise for a job done well.

It’s important that you show trust and confidence in your people. The best way to do that is to get out of their way and let them do it. Results are what’s important, not how they go about doing it. Allow them to put their own personal stamp on it.

Copyright 2016 (c) Brian Smith – Reformed Control Freak. Not to be reproduced without permission. To find out more about Brian and what he can do for you and your organization visit https://briansmithpld.com

Checkmate – How to Become a Better Leader in Four Moves 2

Leadership Cycle Coloured 2Whether you are in a management position or play a leadership role in your organization, the challenges remain the same. New leadership skills are required for the workplace of today and for the forseeable future. Success in managing or leading others is no longer dependent on your technical abilities alone. Soft-skills, your ability to communicate and interact more effectively with others, build collaborative teams, problem solve, resolve conflict and deal with difficult people and challenging situations better, now plays a more pivotal role in your success and the overall success of your organization and your people.

I believe to be a really great manager or leader you need to master all four disciplines of my “Four Step Leadership Development Model” (c) . The work environment is changing and you need to adapt to keep pace with those changes. You must have exceptional people skills and be able to bring people together, communicate often, teach others what they’ll need to know and then learn to get out of their way and let them do it. Don’t get left behind – learn to manage and lead the 21st Century way.

Congregate: “To collect into a group or crowd; to come together into a group, crowd or assembly.” – Merriam-Webster Dictionary. Your success and the overall success of your organization begins and ends with your ability to bring people together. If you can’t connect with others on an emotional level, then you stand little chance of assembling a cohesive team. You are only as good as the people around you. Each individual is a vital link in the chain. Get to know your people for more than the job that they do. People like to work with people they like. Successful managers and leaders know how to develop those all important relationships and build collaborative teams.

Communicate  “To convey knowledge of or information about; to cause to pass from one to another.” – Merriam-Webster Dictionary. Communication isn’t just something – it’s everything! If you can’t communicate – you can’t manage or lead others. I can’t think of a more valuable skill set for managers and leaders to have, than the ability to communicate effectively up, down and across the organization. If you can’t send the message and have it received the way it was intended – then what you said means absolutely nothing. The words you choose and how you go about saying them can be the catalyst for action or inaction. 

Educate “To train by formal instruction and supervised practice especially in a skill, trade, or profession.” – Merriam Webster Dictionary. I don’t believe there is any such thing as common sense. The only thing common about common sense, is that it’s not very common. We should call it “Life Sense” because it seems the older we get, the smarter we get. We aren’t born knowing what we need to know, to be able to teach someone else what they need to know. I believe having the ability to teach someone else is a learned behavior. Successful managers and leaders are great teachers and coaches.

Delegate “To entrust to another; to appoint as one’s representative.” – Merriam-Webster Dictionary. If you fail to delegate you are robbing your people of their opportunity to grow. Successful managers and leaders understand that they aren’t the end all and be all. Successful managers and leaders understand that they must give up control to get control. Resist the urge to micro-manage others. Your ability and willingness to delegate effectively are essential to freeing up your time, so you can carry out your duties and responsibilities as a manager or leader.

Any time is a great time to start a new beginning. Which one of these four disciplines; congregate, communicate, educate or delegate will you need to improve upon to be a more effective manager or leader? Don’t get left behind – you can become a better leader in just four moves.

Copyright (c) 2014. Brian Smith – Reformed Control Freak. Excerpts from Brian’s soon-to-be-published workbook “Leadership Lessons from a Reformed Control Freak – The Art of Managing and Leading in the 21st Century(c)”. Brian is available for keynote speaking or facilitating training sessions on a variety of soft-skills topics including: communication, time management, problem solving, dealing with difficult people and challenging situations better and developing the leader in you. To find out more visit http://briansmithpld.com

Leadership Lessons: When Mistakes are Made Create a Teachable Moment 3

Coaching Session - Digi60 - Ottawa Film Festival

One of the best compliments I had ever received as a Manager was from an employee after I had disciplined her. It took her about 15 minutes after the fact before she realized what I had done. I was reminded of that incident the other day when a reader wrote me and asked me how to go about “calling attention to a person’s mistakes indirectly”. In my management training sessions I talk with team leaders, supervisors and managers about how they need to create “Teachable Moments”. Mistakes are inevitable. Mistakes will happen but discipline should always be a positive learning experience.

It’s difficult for anyone to take constructive criticism in a positive way. (As far as I’m  concerned there is no such thing as constructive criticism only positive feedback) People on the receiving end do take it personal. (It’s human nature) I know for the most part you are giving it for the right reasons.

When working with others it’s important to always be positive. You need to look at mistakes in a positive way. (Look at them as learning opportunities) When mistakes happen – and they will happen – you need to create an environment where it’s OK to fail. You need to create a “Teachable Moment”. You need to be able to separate the act (What the person did) from the person they are. (You’re OK; it’s what you did that isn’t. I don’t want to change you I just want to change what you did wrong.) Try using the “Sandwich Technique”. Think of a sandwich that has two slices of bread (whole wheat multi-grain, lightly buttered, hold the mayo) with a slice of lean roast beef, lettuce and a tomatoes. (If you’re going to eat this sandwich it might as well be a healthy one)

Try creating a “Teachable Moment” by following this simple recipe:

  1. The first thing you need to do is design the right environment. Make sure you have your teachable moment in an area that is conducive to learning. A quiet boardroom, office or on the shop floor if you are going to be teaching someone how to operate a piece of equipment, etc.
  2. Start the conversation off by saying something positive about the person. The years of experience they have that is invaluable to the department and organization. How they contribute to the overall success of the department. The first slice of bread will help you take your emotion out of the equation. The first slice of bread will help you separate the act from the person. Remember the person is OK; it’s the act that you want them to change.
  3. The lean roast beef in your sandwich is what you want them to change. It’s important to let the person know that it’s not them that needs to change but what they are doing. Let them know the negative impact the “act” is having on the team, department and organization. Let the person know you are there to help them be successful. Ask them what they think are the reasons mistakes are happening and what they would recommend be done to correct the problem(s). Together, work out a course of corrective action  that you both can agree on. However, it’s important that they own the plan.  If it’s your plan – and it fails – then you’ve given them an excuse why it failed. If it’s their plan they are more likely to “buy-in” to the process and make it happen.
  4. The second slice of bread is used to bring about closure. Let the person know that you are looking forward to working with them. Let them know that you will be following-up with them to ensure that the plan is getting the desired results. (People do what you inspect not what you expect) Always follow-up. Manage by walking around. Discipline should always be a positive learning experience. Be sure to praise performance. Let them know you are pleased with the progress they are making. “Catch people doing something right and give them a one minute praising” – Ken Blanchard – One Minute Manager.