By Marty Stanley
Doh! Its what TV cartoon dad Homer Simpson says when something goes wrong. Why is delegation one big Doh! for a lot of supervisors?
There can be some fear about delegating tasks or projects because without proper planning, a lot of things can go wrong. When it comes to delegating projects, how often have you said:
- I can do it faster.
- I can do it better.
- It will take too long to tell someone how to do it.
But what often happens is you feel swamped or overwhelmed with too much to do, then delegate a task to someone just so you can meet a deadline. If things go wrong, you think, Ill never do that again! But remember, a key to a persons success is the ability to develop other people, and delegation is one way to do it. Here are four tips on how to turn Doh! Ill never do that again! to Oh! Thats how to do it!
Failing to Plan Is Planning to Fail
Plan the delegation process well in advance of the due date. Unless youre very skilled at delegation, its not a good idea to shoot from the hip. Some questions to guide you in this process include:
- What are the outcomes you want to achieve?
- What potential problems can arise?
- What skills does the person who will do the project need?
- What are appropriate checkpoints to see how things are going?
Looking for Mr. or Ms. Right
Pick a self-storage manager who has the essential skills to do the task. For example, if the project or task is detailed and requires accuracy, choose someone who excels at attention to detail. Or if a project needs creative thinking, match the project to the manager who shows the ability to think outside the box or has creative problem-solving skills.
Delegating projects or tasks can be a good way to develop self-storage managers in their careers. A lot depends on the experience of the person and the level of trust and communication youve established as well. One way to look at delegation in terms of development is to think about delegating for skill development or professional development.
Generally speaking, a person whos just started his career will benefit from delegated tasks related to his immediate work performed. People who are looking to climb the company ladder will benefit from tasks or projects that are outside of their immediate scope of responsibility and will help them go to the next level.
If you have confidence in the person and he has an established track record of successful performance, it may be easier to delegate more complex projects that are outside of his skill set. These types of situations are good for delegating projects to expand a managers depth or range of skills. However, if the other person is relatively new to the job, avoid making assumptions that hes able to take on a complex project or task. Closer supervision may be required.
Communication Is Key
After selecting the right manager to do the work, set expectations. For example, whats the expected level of quality or quantity? Whats expected regarding the completion time for the project to be considered successful? Discuss how youll monitor the new process or task. Its important to be available for questions and guidance.
Another way to ensure success is to make sure the manager has the appropriate tools, information and resources. Is they available, or how does the manager find them? When possible, walk through a few examples. If youd like your manager to go into the neighborhood and meet with business owners, do a thorough walk-through a couple days in advance. Make sure the person has the information he needs, and practice the content and flow of the material to be presented. Having a dry run of the presentation can prevent a lot of problems and provides a great coaching opportunity. Keep the lines of communication open so any glitches can be detected early.
Depending on the scope of the project or task being delegated, it can be a good idea to do a post-task debriefing with the manager to whom you delegated the task. Good questions to ask are:
- What went well in the process?
- What could have been done differently?
- What can we do in the future to improve the process?
Ask the manager to describe all the things that went well first. Most people have a tendency to gloss over this and start on what didnt work, so take the time to acknowledge and give praise for work well done. Even in the most disappointing of circumstances, finding the good points and discussing them first will help the persons morale.
When discussing things that could have been done differently, again, ask the person for his input before providing your own. This will provide additional coaching opportunities, particularly if the manager is overly self-critical or if he tends to blame others for his mistakes.
Finally, if the manager will be doing similar tasks or projects in the future, make a list of ways to improve the process. Are there additional resources needed? Are all the materials or information available to make it smoother next time? Is more advance time needed? The debriefing process will help build skills for everyone involved as well as build relationships if done well.
Empowerment, Not Abdication
Effective delegation empowers people. It empowers the employee to take on more responsibility and empowers the manager to a higher level of management finesse. Unfortunately, some self-storage owners walk away after delegating and, for the other person, its sink or swim. Abdication of responsibility is a quick ticket to failure: DOh! The more you coach and train others, the easier it is to delegate, and it will lead to everyones success.
Marty Stanley is a national speaker, trainer, executive coach and facilitator for planning and teambuilding sessions. To reach him, call 816.822.4047; e-mail [email protected]; visit www.alteringoutcomes.com.