Del­e­ga­tion sit­u­a­tion

Tac­ti­cally spread­ing work around can help with time man­age­ment and team build­ing

Winnipeg Free Press - Section H - - FRONT PAGE - BAR­BARA BOWES

IT’S been one year since the con­grat­u­la­tions started rolling in; after all, you had been pro­moted! You were thrilled to be se­lected for your high-per­form­ing, de­mand­ing job. It’s the type of job where you ex­pe­ri­ence an adrenalin rush all the time. It’s ex­cit­ing to be chal­lenged as you re­solve one cri­sis after another.

Yet some­how, your spirit is start­ing to lag and you are wor­ried the bloom is fall­ing off the rose, so to speak. In fact, you’re be­com­ing se­ri­ously con­cerned there doesn’t seem to be enough time to re­cover as you jump from one cri­sis to the next. Your email in­box is al­ways full, dead­lines are be­ing missed and staff morale is be­gin­ning to slip.

How­ever, you have enough self­aware­ness to rec­og­nize your stress level is inch­ing up­ward and you are be­com­ing edgy and anx­ious. You also rec­og­nize that your many sleep­less nights are wear­ing you down and you are be­gin­ning to feel over­whelmed.

When I hear this type of com­plaint from a new but in­ex­pe­ri­enced man­ager, I will most of­ten find they are tak­ing on too many tasks them­selves and are not skilled at del­e­gat­ing to their team mem­bers. In fact, they re­ally don’t know how to del­e­gate or are afraid to del­e­gate.

Del­e­ga­tion is a man­age­ment skill that is ab­so­lutely nec­es­sary if you in­tend to be suc­cess­ful at higher lev­els. Del­e­ga­tion is the abil­ity to ef­fec­tively as­sign a task to some­one else. It means get­ting things done through other peo­ple. Del­e­ga­tion is all about time man­age­ment, pro­fes­sional de­vel­op­ment and the em­pow­er­ment of your em­ploy­ees.

At the same time, del­e­ga­tion has both process and psy­cho­log­i­cal el­e­ments, so it’s much more com­plex than one thinks. One rea­son for this is your need to en­trust your au­thor­ity to some­one else to get the job done. And en­trust­ing is where del­e­ga­tion inches right up to the fear a new man­ager might be ex­pe­ri­enc­ing.

Some of what a man­ager might fear is the loss of con­trol, a loss of power, fear of fail­ure or be­com­ing in­vis­i­ble and there­fore no longer be­ing needed. Many of th­ese feel­ings are di­rectly tied to per­sonal in­se­cu­rity and a lack of self-con­fi­dence. And don’t think for a mo­ment em­ploy­ees don’t have qualms about ac­cept­ing a del­e­gated task. With­out proper prepa­ra­tion, an em­ployee may see del­e­ga­tion as sim­ply pass­ing on a task the man­ager doesn’t like or a tac­tic to load the em­ployee up with more work. Worse yet, the em­ployee may see they have new re­spon­si­bil­i­ties but with no au­thor­ity.

So, how does a new man­ager go about learn­ing and ap­ply­ing the skill of del­e­ga­tion? First of all, un­der­stand if you are too busy and un­fo­cused, then 80 per cent of your ef­fort will gen­er­ate only 20 per cent of the re­sults needed. On the other hand, 80 per cent of all of your re­sults should be achieved with only 20 per cent of your ef­fort. There­fore, you need to learn to del­e­gate as much as pos­si­ble.

In or­der to del­e­gate ef­fec­tively, you also need to un­der­stand the var­i­ous lev­els of del­e­ga­tion. Th­ese in­clude di­rect­ing an em­ployee to: Follow your in­struc­tions pre­cisely; Look into a sit­u­a­tion, re­port back and then you will de­cide;

Look into a sit­u­a­tion and you will de­cide to­gether with the em­ployee;

Tell you about the sit­u­a­tion, what help the em­ployee needs and then both of you will de­cide;

An­a­lyze the sit­u­a­tion, pro­pose op­tions and rec­om­men­da­tions; then you as man­ager can tell them to go ahead or not;

Make a decision and wait for man­age­ment go-ahead;

Make a decision, go ahead un­less man­age­ment in­ter­venes and says not to;

Make a decision, take ac­tion and in­form man­age­ment after the fact;

Make a decision, take ac­tion with no re­port­ing re­quired.

Thus, your over­all goal as man­ager is to en­sure most of your man­age­ment time is spent think­ing about strat­egy de­vel­op­ment rather than do­ing hand­son work.

Now that you un­der­stand the var­i­ous lev­els of del­e­ga­tion, take time to sit down and an­a­lyze just where you ac­tu­ally do spend your time. Per­haps do this for a one month pe­riod. An­a­lyze your find­ings for boss-im­posed time, which can­not be del­e­gated, ver­sus sys­tem-im­posed time, which re­quires you to support peers. Also as­sess your self-im­posed or staffim­posed time.

List your ac­tiv­i­ties for the month, es­ti­mate the time per ac­tiv­ity and then group your time ac­tiv­i­ties into key func­tional ar­eas. Look for themes and re­la­tion­ships. Iden­tify your rou­tine tasks and name them.

Next, de­ter­mine the tasks you can elim­i­nate al­to­gether, which tasks only you can do and which tasks that could be done by some­one else. Fol­low­ing this anal­y­sis, take a look at the em­ployee tal­ent pool and de­ter­mine how many peo­ple you have avail­able to whom to del­e­gate.

The eas­i­est way in which to del­e­gate is to ap­ply what is com­monly known as the “4-D ap­proach”. This tac­tic is as fol­lows: D = drop it Does it need to be done at all? What are the con­se­quences of not do­ing it? Don’t del­e­gate what you can elim­i­nate. D = de­lay it Us­ing pos­i­tive de­lay saves time D = do it If you can’t drop or de­lay it and it can’t be del­e­gated, then do it D = del­e­gate it If you don’t drop or de­lay it but it can be done by some­one else, then del­e­gate it

How­ever, del­e­ga­tion is not dump­ing an ac­tiv­ity on one of your em­ploy­ees’ desks. Del­e­ga­tion takes time to set up a plan and a struc­ture and en­sure the as­sign­ment goes to the right per­son at the right time. You will need to en­sure all del­e­gated tasks are rel­e­vant to the in­di­vid­ual’s over­all job re­spon­si­bil­ity and skill lev­els. You will need to plan for suf­fi­cient backup and pro­vide support for un­seen prob­lems. You will need to help the em­ployee pri­or­i­tize or en­sure there is ad­e­quate cov­er­age for their time away from reg­u­lar du­ties. You will also need to en­sure you give the em­ployee ad­e­quate time to do the job, so plan­ning in ad­vance is im­por­tant.

Fi­nally, be sure to del­e­gate the task ob­jec­tive, but not nec­es­sar­ily the pro­ce­dure un­less it is a stan­dard­ized ap­proach. Seek out some­one with the ca­pa­bil­ity but who also wants to learn and de­velop. Then set out your per­for­mance ob­jec­tives, step back and let the em­ployee do the job. How­ever, be there when needed and en­sure the task is com­pleted and the em­ployee is held ac­count­able.

Learn­ing to del­e­gate is a prized man­age­ment skill es­pe­cially if you per­ceive your­self mov­ing into more se­nior roles. Keep in mind as well that del­e­ga­tion is an ef­fec­tive tool for time man­age­ment, team build­ing and pro­fes­sional de­vel­op­ment.

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