You got your meal but the order wasn’t exactly as expected…Is that bad? I was offered scrambled egg on crumpets (don’t ask why, sounded like a good idea at the time), I got what I ordered, but not as expected. This simple experience made me think about my delegation skills (and how I hadn’t just used them). Knowing how to delegate and then delegating is the only way you can achieve more than simply doing it yourself!
First a confession
I’m lucky, I recently started a new relationship; I’ve had a great few months, and was offered breakfast the other day. I thought to myself “This is getting better and better”.
As there was no bread in the house we agreed on scrambled eggs on crumpets. I don’t know about you, but I like scrambled eggs and I like them with cheese (if my ex-wife is reading this, yes that is your fault). Having discussed the benefits of cheese, I sat back looking forward to breakfast.
What arrived was not what I expected! Scrambled eggs, crumpets, cheese all present; but not as expected! There must be lots of ways to present scrambled eggs. I had never thought about it, as a result I hadn’t used any delegation skills. How do you like your scrambled eggs?
Did it deliver what I wanted?
My first impression was “oh”, but I ate and thought, “they taste good, they just weren’t as I expected“. If you want to know, I got eggs on crumpets, with grated cheese on top. Technically, I got what I wanted – but I wasn’t happy, and it was my fault – ineffective delegation skills.
What’s this go to do with delegation skills?
How many times have you asked somebody to do something and thought I’d better do it myself, or “that’s rubbish it isn’t what I wanted”? Whose fault is that?
The first point is if the output is what you needed, but it didn’t arrive in the expected manner – ask yourself, does it matter?
- YES: then you should have been more specific (but ask yourself, does it really matter?). You were guilty of ineffective delegation.
- NO: you got what you needed, didn’t spend as much time on it, somebody else in the organisation improved their skills (now they can do it again) and maybe you (and the organisation) learned something.
We don’t learn anything if we always do things the same way, learning helps us move forwards. If more people in the business can do the task, you’re not doing it as often and you can learn from better ways of doing it – diversity is good.
3 ways to improve your delegation skills
- Ensure that the big picture is clear: What do you want them to do, why and how does it fit into the overall scheme of things.
- Other expectations: If there is a how to do, who to speak to, by when, etc. – make it clear. What must be done exactly the same way and what is up to them? HINT: If you are specifying small details, you need to ask yourself if it’s needed; if it is needed, perhaps delegation isn’t the right leadership tool!
- Check-in: Agree with them (not, just tell them) when you will check progress and how. Perhaps you should get them to report back to you in a staged way as things go on. What decisions can they take and what should they ask you about? More experienced people get the same stages, but probably need less formal checking.
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I got a nice meal, I didn’t have to cook it and I tried something different. Overall I had won, there was no problem. I was able to spend time on other things instead and we both learned. In a business setting, that sounds pretty damn good. Click here for more tips on delegation, especially related to control.
What do you think are the most important skills when it comes to delegation?