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The 7 Delegation Mistakes That Cost You

04 August 2021

Perfecting the art of delegation is essential for any business leader who wants to ensure the steady and continual growth of their business. However, it is not as simple as taking tasks that you don’t have time for and asking someone else to do them. If you skip any of these vital steps then the desired goals may be missed and you will be left with only frustration on both sides.

In the third and final part of our series on delegation, we look at the 7 Steps of Delegation. I explain each step to delegating a task and what stages to go through for yourself and the team member involved, so the desired outcome can be achieved.

You can catch up on the first 2 articles on the Key Principles of Effective Delegation, where we discussed developing the appropriate mindset for delegation, and Knowing When to Delegate.

What are the 7 Steps of Delegation?

1. Define the task

The first step is largely self-explanatory. An essential first point of action is to define clearly what needs to be done and ensure that the person you are delegating to understands this before continuing.

If you are not 100% clear on what needs to be done then you can be certain that this will carry over to the person who takes it on board and you may end up with an outcome you didn’t expect.

2. State success measurables

In the second step, you need to clearly define the metrics or measurables on which you will judge if the task has been successfully completed.

 

This is important, not only for you to clarify for your own purposes but to communicate to the person who will be undertaking the task, as they will need clear guidance on whether or not they have done what was required.

3. Explain the reasons

This step is critical for ensuring that the person you are delegating to understands why they are being asked to do it and what purpose it serves.

If this step isn’t taken, there is a risk of the team member feeling dumped upon with meaningless tasks. By explaining to them why it is useful and involving them in the decision-making process, it will engage them more with the task and increase their sense of commitment. This will then lead to a greater feeling of accomplishment once complete.

4. Check skill/will – Value; Capability; Time

It is essential to next check whether the person got the skill and willingness to complete the task.

Generally, when you find something is not being done you can attribute it to one, or a combination, of three reasons:

Do they see the value in the task?

Do they have sufficient capability? Or do they need further training?

Do they have the time to complete the task?

Once the person has agreed to the task and has been fully briefed on this stage of the process, you may want to agree on a process by which they are going to complete it. However, it is important not to get too hung up on this if you know the person has the right capability and will find the way that best suits them. As long as it is completed to the right standard, that is the important factor.

5. Agree on specific timelines

It is crucial to agree on a specific timeline for completion so you don’t reach a point where things get pushed back further and further if not complete.

You should both agree on a realistic date and time by which you would like the resulting action to be complete, rather than a loose target of “by next week”, for example.

6. Ask to recap

This step is essential as well as being something that you should do naturally and religiously every time you delegate something. Once you have run through all the above details, you should ask the person to run through everything again, just to make sure you are both on the same page.

7. Diarise review step

This can be a review of progress so far, if it is a long term task, or it can be a review of the results or findings once complete. It is best practice to actually diarise this with your team member so you can both run through what was done.

There is a useful rule of thumb by which you can diarise your checks, called the 20-60-20 rule. Basically what this means is that about 20% of the way in you should be checking whether the person is ok with the task and has fully understood. Then on 60%, you should expect the person to be about midway through the task, so you can check on any questions or help they need. Once there is about 20% of time left to target completion, you should then check on whether it is still on track to be completed on time.

Again, you should always make a judgement on whether this level of monitoring is necessary for the task and person in question, as sometimes with a lower priority task, it may be sufficient to just check halfway and then review on completion.

Finally, I wanted to point out the value of effective delegation within a business.

It has been shown in a Gallup study that 33% higher growth was generated by senior leaders who excelled in delegating. If this isn’t enough proof that you need to ensure your delegation skills are up to scratch then I don’t know what is!

If you would like to discuss how you can improve this or any other skill, please feel free to get in touch. I am always keen to help those who realise the value of investing in themselves.

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