It’s end of year at Aquabanque. Jenna has to have her department’s performance report ready by next week’s board meeting. Ashish keeps coming back on email. He doesn’t feel he has the authority to speak to all of the section leaders for the forecasts he’s preparing so he keeps checking in every step of the way.
Then there’s Jaz who is managing the project. If only she’d follow the format Jenna recommended but then again, the briefing session was very rushed because it was the same day as the SLT global sales meeting. Jenna thinks Jaz is managing OK but she can’t really be sure and so keeps checking in because she’s got so much riding on it as part of her next appraisal. Then there’s Nick who’s not even started Friday’s pitch and wants yet another meeting because he wants to present some new ideas.
Is it time for Jenna to re-assesses her approach to delegation?
As a leader, Jenna’s number one task is to develop people and effectively manage them to bring out the best of their abilities. But none of that will happen unless she learns to effectively delegate. Doing it well will underpin her effectiveness as a leader, inspiring those around her to perform.
Since delegation starts on the first rung and ends at the top of any career ladder, it’s vital to practise this delicate art as early as possible.
At BiteSize Learning one of the frameworks we share on our delegation short-course training is PLACE. This technique enables you to:
- PLACE the TASK
- PLACE your TRUST
- PLACE the RESPONSIBILITY
- PLACE the AUTHORITY
In a nutshell, there are five essentials for effective management to make someone like Jenna become a team inspiration, without the perspiration.
Jenna has fallen at the first major delegation hurdle – planning. It sounds like she isn’t allowing adequate time to assess and successfully transfer the task to her teams. Are they the right people for the job she’s identified? A good first step is to look at everything you do and clearly identify what could be done by someone else, then start thinking about the work itself to help you decide how and what needs to be done. Depending on the complexity of the work identified, a planning cycle could take a few months.
Let it go
Here’s Jenna, sneaking around, checking her project manager’s work because…she doesn’t trust her? Or is it because she’s not defined the outcomes properly in the planning stage? Jenna’s hanging on in instead of getting on with what she’s paid to do.
By its very nature the workplace is a pool of different skills, attitudes and abilities – so recognise this by giving people the freedom to perform their best for the benefit of all.
But it doesn’t mean disappearing off. Good bosses are available to provide support, encouragement and acknowledgement along the way.
Context is everything. Jenna’s rushed briefings have left her feeling worried that Jaz is not managing the work properly. Did she share with Ashish the importance she’s placed in him gathering the financials and agree on his deliverables and authority? When you delegate, all parties need to have a common or shared understanding of the big picture. Reach agreement on all matters of importance and then let the team decide how to deliver.
When delegating, Jenna’s making a commitment to her team to plan and successfully hand over the responsibility for its completion. Her coworkers are committing to completing it to the best of their abilities. Part of the leader’s commitment is to honour her part of the deal, which may well be actively “backing off” and reminding herself to let go.
Hovering – inadvertently or deliberately – will undermine Jaz, Ashish and Nick and, as a result, will make Jenna take back responsibility for the task. Doubling your workload is a sign that your delegation might be going wrong.
Did Aquabanque’s report get written? On time and on budget? Of course it did, Jenna and her team don’t want to let each other down. But was it completed effectively and did everyone feel it was the best one the company had ever produced? How can they improve both the process and the outcome? Those are the answers good leaders are looking for when it comes to monitoring and delegation. Asking for feedback from her team too will improve Jenna’s leadership success in the future.
PLACE is just one of several practical techniques we pass on in our interactive training courses. We’ve more details here.
If you could delegate one job today, tell us what would it be?