DELEGATE … or perish!

Delegate EffectivelyDo you delegate? If not, why not? Here’s something that you might think about. You may not delegate because you can’t or don’t trust your team members. Now, we are not saying that you have incompetent team members. But, before you start say, “that’s not me” ask yourself whether there might be just a little bit of truth there. After all, if you delegate and things go wrong it could create problems for you and your customers. Here are some reasons that may be holding you back from delegating more effectively.

None of us want our team members to make mistakes. If we are honest with ourselves, we would have to admit that we make mistakes now and certainly did earlier in our development. The key question is, what happened when we made those mistakes? For good or ill, the answer is that we learned something that helps us do a better job now. I expect that you will make the best effort to select the right person, the right assignment and coach them up for the task. If your team members make mistakes, they will learn from them as you did and they’ll learn and grow. They will eventually be able to take some responsibility off your plate.

If you want to grow and develop your professional and foster business growth, you must continue improving your delegation and coaching skills. Delegation is not abdication. You won’t tell someone to take over a task or function and then ignore what they do. You will coach and correct. It is important to do this by asking questions about mistakes rather than criticizing the team member.

Coaching Questions
When you delegate and find a mistake has been made, do not emphasize what your team member did wrong. Instead, ask them what went wrong and why it was wrong. Continue this process until they figure out what they could have done differently. Asking questions does take longer to correct a mistake. It’s also the best way to help your team members to avoid making the same mistake over and over. This also helps to build trust in the abilities of your team.

The Message
Delegation really can build trust. The components or formula for trust are: (Competency + Reliability + Intimacy) / Self-interest. If you have difficulty delegating there’s a good chance that one of the four elements is not as strong as it should be. If you focus on which area is out of balance, you can build trust and then delegation becomes more effective and efficient.

Organizational Learning
Mistakes are a part of the developmental process. Both you and your team members will make some mistakes. Start by working on yourself. Every time you make a mistake ask yourself the following question, “what did I learn?” As your skills develop, continue this questioning process with your team members. Your team members do not want to make mistakes because they want to be perfect. But, as mistakes occur, help your team accept it and learn.

Most professionals and business owners would love to be strategic in their processes. It takes time to develop, review and implement strategic actions. The primary reason that there is a lack of strategic thinking and planning is that the team leader or business owner are “caught in the weeds.” They “have” to do things that no one else would do.

By learning to trust, treat developmental mistakes as a part of the developmental process and delegate, they may find the time for high value activities where the real fun and profit is. So, an important part of delegation is having good people to delegate to. That means you have to hire and coach effectively.

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James E. McClain is the author of Successful Career Development: A Game Plan, the book upon which some of our training programs are based. He has over 30 years' experience as a corporate HR executive, small business owner with ongoing experience in career development and as a college instructor. His educational background includes a B.S. and Masters degrees Education and Certification in Financial Planning. Our promise is that "you can pay more for training but you can not buy better training." The mission is to deliver the most effective and cost effective training and development programs.

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Posted in Business Process Improvement, Coaching

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