One of the principal leadership skills is delegation, which means entrusting a task or responsibility to another person. You cannot truly be a leader without this skill. Here’s an overview of the delegation process: First, define the task you wish to delegate. Clearly describe the task and its parameters. Depending on the situation, it may need to be in writing. Second, ensure that the person is capable of carrying out the assignment. Third, discuss the assignment with the person in sufficient detail to be sure he/she understands it and how it relates to larger goals. It’s important to provide a context for the task. Fourth, answer any questions and establish agreements regarding expectations, timeline, resources available and contingency plans. And fifth, as you make the hand-off, be sure to establish a reporting system and communication process.
Food for Thought ~
Once you have delegated the task itself, remember that’s just the beginning. The requisite next phase is follow-up. This is an essential aspect of delegation; it’s not optional. If you don’t follow-up, you are not doing your part. Following-up means direct communication with the person assigned the task. This gives you an opportunity to answer questions, clarify expectations, review progress, and make needed adjustments. (We all have had experiences where we thought we had a clear understanding with another person and, regrettably, learned that we did not.) Following-up gives you, the leader, an opportunity to coach and mentor, to troubleshoot little issues before they become big ones, and to establish a culture of accountability in your organization.
Question for the day ~
As a leader, do you value being good at delegation? Do you always follow-up? Does your organization have a culture of accountability?
In Closing ~
Last week I provided a link to my new article in the NorthBay Business Journal on Skill, the Third Cornerstone of Business Success. If you haven’t had a chance to read it yet, please click here.