How to delegate more easily. Delegation often evokes lots of discussion in small firms, what, why and how to delegate more effectively. The problem is many firms get it wrong and make it about dereliction, rather than thinking how about to delegate. My mind was drifting this weekend as I sat watching smoke drifting across the garden, “refreshment” in hand, smelling delicious food….How to delegate when cooking a barbecue -

It was a hot, sunny weekend (well, it was British warm and cloudy – which is much the same thing) and there were four families all having barbecues. Two had decided to get the children to do it, albeit for different reasons which appeared to be:

  1.  It would be good for them, they’d learn to cook and in future would be able to do it more easily.
  2. They wanted to sit back and concentrate on the adult discussion

The discussions with the children were interesting and reminded me about discussions on how to delegate. The first thought was why are you interested in delegation?

Why would you delegate?

The first family were clearly looking at something longer term and allowing their children to develop and hoping that they would be able to enjoy barbecues more readily.

The second, were attempting to save themselves time, right now, so they could use it for something else.

Both sound reasonable, although I’d suspect the real advantage in knowing how to delegate and delegating more often is to develop redundancy in your firm, making it more able to deal with issues (reducing risk), improve employee satisfaction and allow long term improvements in the firm. Which family do you think were doing that? Do you think they viewed delegation as developmental, or dereliction?A barbecue in full flow reminding us how to delegate,

How to delegate – The discussions.

I listened and watched what was going on. The first family was involved, spent a lot of time with their children, told them what they could and couldn’t do, what the meat should look like and taste like when it was done. They talked to the children about why it would be good for them to learn and encouraged them. When one of the children said he felt uncomfortable about lighting the fire, this time, the adults agreed to do it for them – this time.

The second family barked instructions and got increasingly frustrated as things didn’t go according to plan. Their children were, obviously, not really interested in the tasks they were being given.

Which do you think was better at delegation of the cooking role? The family that had put more effort in, thought it through in advance, or the family that issued tasks? Speaking of families and how to delegate, if you would like to read about my family experience with scrambled eggs made me think about how to delegate, then click 3 tips on better delegation.

The end result.

After about 25 minutes, the father in the second family eventually gave in to the inevitable. Yes, you guessed it, in a bad tempered way he took over the cooking and tried to save the day. The first family didn’t end up with perfect looking food either, but they laughed about it and I could hear them chatting afterwards, praising the children and letting the children talk about how they’d do it better next time (is that called a debrief?).

How to delegate, 4 tips

Knowing how to delegate more effectively can improve your ability to improve your firm. As I thought about the unfolding story, I thought of the four points below. Download our e-book on how to delegate more effectively, six pages of tips and ideas, it's free and waiting for you to download right nowClick here for instant access (email address required).

  1. Beware the big trap! Giving support is NOT the same as “doing it yourself”; you may need to answer questions, show other people that you have faith in the person etc – but don’t let them delegate the task back up to you. Be very wary of slipping into “doing it for them” trap. It seems clear the second family fell into this trap.
  2. Be inclusive: Where possible, include people in the delegation process. Empower them to decide what’s delegated to them and when. Lighting the fires seems like an example of this at the barbecue, what would it look like in your firm?
  3. You might not know best! Your way is not necessarily the only or even the best way, even if it’s served you well for many years. Allow the person to control the methods and processes, as this helps to grow confidence and trust.
  4. Commitment: Build motivation and commitment. Discuss how success will affect the other person, whether this is though financial rewards, career opportunities, recognition, or whatever it is that motivates them (yes you may need to listen to them first!). Be wary though, don’t promise things that are not in your control, and don’t promise things you have no intention of delivering.

Download our guide to delegation, it's free and waiting for you to download right nowClick here for instant access (email address required).

What other ideas would you add, when you think about “how to delegate”?

Written by Jon Baker The 5-50 Coach. I help professionals grow their firms from 5 to 50 employees, sustainably, profitably and still have fun. Have you got your "next step kitbag yet"? It's stuffed with guides, reports & templates helping you grow from 5 to 50 employees Click here for immediate access

Download our e-book on how to delegate more effectively, six pages of tips and ideas, it's free and waiting for you to download right nowClick here for instant access (email address required).