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The forgotten art of delegation

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“All careers end in management” and control freaks the world over think no one can do it better than them are business truisms. Sadly, many managers/control freaks are often incredibly poor at using the most effective tool in the management toolbox: delegation. 

Worse still, not letting go of the day-to-day tasks, can quickly kill the growth potential of your business along with your career.  Being productive requires effective management and that means getting delegation right. Delegation is good for everyone – for managers especially but also for helping staff upgrade their skills and confidence as well as to showcase their (in/)competence. Best-selling business author and entrepreneurial business owner Robert Kelsey reveals the five steps of strong delegation:

 

  1. Determine what is to be delegated. Sounds obvious but often isn’t. Always delegate as much as possible – particularly all execution-based work. Ideally, management should enrol the team, select the players and let them play (while the manager stays off the pitch).
  2. Identify the right person. The best managers determine the positions of his/her staff based on their particular individual skills. Other key delegation factors include identifying those that: can devote the time/are interested in the assignment/understand the background/can handle the job/are reliable/are keen to grow.
  3. Assign the task. Extraordinarily, less is more when it comes to instruction, even on major projects. In most cases, those you delegate to will be keen to demonstrate their abilities (if not, you may be delegating to the wrong person). Too much instruction and they’ll view the task as simply following your orders (this quickly kills motivation). Instead, why not agree a “vision” for the end result and leave the route(s) for achieving that vision open for them to decide?
  4. Monitor progress.Aka don’t micro-manage or be judgemental. However, subtle monitoring doesn’t mean abandoning them to their fate either. It is best to agree task completion metrics and time points as well as offer constructive feedback. If coaching or re-orientation is required, it should be the minimum to re-establish the vision and ensure they’ve the tools/skills to successfully complete the task.  
  5. Evaluate performance. Yours and theirs! This is a minefield for managers as confidence and motivation can be easily lost through bungled or clumsy evaluation. Praise is always best! In fact, it’s an almost universal currency since everyone is keen to win recognition. Seek to give it by the bucket-load, especially when evaluating.  Even for a poor job, any feedback will be better received if started with the positives – any positives!


Robert Kelsey is the author of bestselling books including What's Stopping You? Why Smart People Don't Always Reach Their Potential and How You Can. Kelsey is not a trained psychologist or self-help guru or lifecoach. In fact, he's a sufferer: of low self-esteem, poor confidence and habitual self-sabotage via procrastination, mental clutter and just about every other ineffective habit preventing people achieving their goals. In his 30s he became a self-help addict in order to try and overcome his self-perceived failings. In his 40s he decided most self help books over-promise by suggesting we can be reborn as a new and better person. We can't. That monkey on our shoulder (the one whispering doubt in our ear) comes too – so why not treat him as a fellow passenger and plot a more fulfilling journey anyway? Kelsey uses his experiences as a financial journalist, City banker, entrepeneur and public relations consultant to write very personal books on what prevents smart people achieving great things – as well as how they can navigate these concerns to make progress despite their own often self-imposed obstacles. All careers end in management” and control freaks the world over think no one can do it better than them are business truisms. Sadly, many managers/control freaks are often incredibly poor at using the most effective tool in the management toolbox: delegation. 

Worse still, not letting go of the day-to-day tasks, can quickly kill the growth potential of your business along with your career.  Being productive requires effective management and that means getting delegation right. Delegation is good for everyone – for managers especially but also for helping staff upgrade their skills and confidence as well as to showcase their (in/)competence.
 

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