When it boils down to it, you are hiring employees to scale your Business. The way that this happens is that these employees take on tasks so that you don’t have to. In order for that to happen, you need to delegate tasks to them. Delegation is a skill like any other and can be learned. But it is not something you can generally do well until you have thought through how it works.
There are two aspects that I want to convey today. The first is that employees will end up making lots of small decisions while they are doing their work. Many of these (the 80%) are no brainers. They choose A over B or B over A because one is “better” than the other. The rest (20%) are toss ups where either A or B will work. Your first job in delegating is to arm your employee to be able to weigh the factors between A and B the way that you want them to. By doing this, the employee chooses between A and B the way you want them to – the way you would choose. And I want to be clear that you should want them to act the way you do. I talked to a CEO that wanted to hire me because they wanted me to model behavior that they could not model. In the short term, this can provide some leadership support. In the long term, it is a failed strategy. The CEO needs to be able to act in a way consistent with their employees. If they can’t then who is involved will make a difference to the customer/partner/employee. The impacted party will escalate more challenges to the CEO if they don’t get what they want out of the employee. That will just add more work to the plate of the Owner/Executive.
The second part is that Delegation has a trust curve just like any other human interaction. People that are not comfortable with Leadership often go one of two directions. They either over Micromanage or the perform Fire and Forget.
People don’t like to talk about Micromanagement in a positive way. It connotes a lack of trust and ability for an employee to contribute as an adult. To me, this is all about degrees. I am not talking about the equivalent of Helicopter Parenting. But early on in a new employee’s term, you will want to make sure to have regular check-ins. At these check-ins you can ensure that the decisions that are being made are being weighed with the correct factors. Owners and Executives can also be available to answer questions that are likely to arise because of imperfect task description. Over time, these check-ins will decline in frequency.
The other alternative that people often choose is Fire and Forget. A task is handed out with little to no direction and little chance for the employee to be able to get additional support in performing the task. What happens here is that the task will get done, but often in a way that makes the Owner/Executive unhappy. Without guidance, people will perform tasks in a way that makes sense to them. Everybody works differently. Things that are perfectly obvious to you are not to others. It is imperative that employees have a feedback mechanism to make sure that the Owner/Executive gets the results that they want.
So either extreme is bad, but how to do this effectively is for next time. Have a great day!
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