If the act of delegation could be compared to playing a game of toss, would your team members say you typically throw the ball at them, or do you throw the ball to them? The distinction between throwing “at” and throwing “to” could hold valuable insights for you.
To be fair, when it comes to delegating, most of us (including myself) have had times when hurling the ball at a teammate seemed like the only option. And I’m equally sure we’ve all experienced what it feels like to be on the receiving end of a dump and run situation. So, don’t beat yourself up if your delegation arm needs a little work.
Get up, dust yourself off and make a couple of simple yet game changing adjustments. Here are three winning strategies:
1) Make sure the person you’re delegating to fully comprehends the expectations surrounding the work or task at hand. Do this before you set them free. Here’s what I mean:
• Clarify the expectations in your own mind prior to the handoff meeting, and then again during the handoff, partnering around the details of execution.
• Make sure the other person understands if time, money or quality (the Triple Constraint) dictate said expectations.
• Allow the other person (not yourself) to be the authority in determining if they fully comprehend what is being given to them. Stay with the handoff until you’re confident the picture in your mind of a completed project parallels the picture in their mind.
2) Ensure your partner has everything they need to meet these expectations.
• Do they have all the relevant information, knowledge, skills, tools as well as a realistic timeline and an appropriate amount of motivation?
• Does this person have all the support needed, and do they feel empowered to execute on the charge they’ve been given?
• Is this the best person for the delegated task, and do they know you believe this?
3) Be impeccable with your support of the project—manage it well.
• Set up consistent checkpoints or review meetings after the handoff. Follow an agenda for staying on top of: what’s working, what needs improvement and what you can do to be effectively supportive.
• Use meetings as moments of celebration. Individually acknowledge each success the delegated person and the project is experiencing.
• Never forget, through the other person’s efforts, you’re accountable too. Manage for success by constraining yourself to doing your part, which means get out of the way, and give credit to those who are doing the majority of the work.
Good luck, and here’s to a more gratifying game of toss!