Delegation is often an overlooked management tool. Do you experience being too busy or overwhelmed by the sheer volume of work you have to do? Do things come at you a little too fast? Do you spend too many nights and weekends working? If you answered 'yes' to any of these questions or just want to delegate better, join my avatar puppets and me in this course to learn how to overcome normal barriers to delegation and how to carry delegation out in a way that will give you the results you want.
I will introduce a Delegation Worksheet (Microsoft Word document) that I think you will find helpful and a concept called the Onckin's Freedom to Act scale to help you determine how much authority to provide.
I have included interaction between the avatars to discuss problems with delegation and an example use of the Delegation Worksheet, just to make things a little more fun and interesting.
Delegation is an important and powerful tool for managers. It extends the work of the manager from them doing the work directly to others helping them do the work. It is what makes a manager a manager. However, it is often not completed well. The result is frustrating for the manager and can sometimes impact the quality or timeliness of the work itself.
Too often, a manager asks someone to do something for them in a way that seems complete but actually leaves out so much information that it has a high likelihood of problems. This is especially likely, ironically, when working with enthusiastic employees that are eager to accomplish results. Without clear and complete directions, they will work hard, but probably on the wrong things.
Poor delegation for a busy manager usually results in symptoms such as heightened stress, an extremely busy workload, overtime, and reduced quality and timeliness of the work.
In this lesson, I explore how to delegate, who to delegate to, and what to do to make the delegation most successful. By the end, hopefully you will have had a little fun watching the avatars, have a few concepts and tools that can guide your efforts, and are prepared to delegate like a pro.
We often don't delegate for a variety of reasons. Here are a few:
Recognize any of these barriers? Overcoming them is important. In the video I give a few ideas how to address these. In the next video, I provide more ideas and a tool that might be helpful for you.
When you are delegating, you should consider several factors, including:
Avoid "dumping" work from your workload or delegating what might be considered "dirty" or undesirable work. Try not to move into a flurry of delegation when you are overworked. Your employees will quickly figure that out and likely not appreciate it.
Deciding who to delegate to is very important. Start by evaluating the personality, skills, experience, and level in the organization of your team members. Compare their capability with how urgent and critical the work is, along with their availability and interest.
Consider how the candidate employee will carry out the work. Will they be successful in the style or approach you anticipate they will take?
When several candidates could do the work, consider including them in the decision. In fact, even if only one employee is your selected candidate, always encourage their approval. An employee that wants to do the work and believes they had a choice will typically give far more effort and enthusiasm, likely resulting in better results.
Beware of only delegating to employees that always get delegated to...spread the workload and the development around. Develop your team bench strength!
If your team does not have the skills or capability to complete the work, consider teaming up with another manager to utilize skills and experience in their organization or contract the service from an external source. Evaluate if you should also assign a member of your team to learn from this "borrowed" or contracted provider so you will have the needed skills or capability internal to your organization next time.
In this video, I introduced the Onckin"s Freedom Scale. I first learned about it in a book called "Managing Management Time: Who's Got the Monkey?" by William Oncken, Jr., copyright 1984 and published by Prentice-Hall, Inc., page 106. I have since seen this basic idea published in many forms in many places. It is always good to go to the source, however, so I recommend you check out the official William Oncken Corp website. I have placed a link to it in the External Resources section.
I have also placed a Microsoft Word copy of the Delegation Worksheet in the Downloadable materials section. This Word document includes an example use of the worksheet, which is presented in the next video.
In this video, I have Gwen delegate to Chuck using all the proper elements. It is not necessary to follow the Delegation Worksheet format directly, but it is important to get all the elements discussed so the delegation is clear. This might actually take you a couple of conversations and many questions from the person you are delegating to. It is helpful if you educate them on what the proper elements are for delegation and invite them to help you make sure they have a full understanding before they commit too much effort in the work.
Once the assignment is in place, following-up to ensure proper progress is important. This should be completed consisted with the Delegation Worksheet and specifically the Onckin's Freedom to Act you have established. Set up checkpoints and deadlines, hold periodic meetings and a reasonable reporting frequency, and ask to see evidence of progress.
As the assignment continues, coach, encourage, and ask a lot of questions. If the employee seems to be off track, seek to understand where they are going and how they intend to get there. If there is a gap between what they intend and what you need, revisit the Delegation Worksheet. Strengthen descriptions if necessary, but be care not to change course without being explicit about doing so.
Find the right balance between your need to know and the employee's need to have freedom. Focus on results, not method or process.
Beware of "boomerang," "upward," or "reverse delegation. If the employee starts giving the work back to you, take appropriate steps to stop them. If necessary, have a direct conversation with the employee about what you perceive is happening. If necessary, reassign the work, but do that in partnership with the employee.
When the employee believes the work is complete, evaluate it based on your expectations. If the results are not at the level of completion you expected, return to the Delegation Worksheet and work with the employee to determine why there is a gap and what to do about it.
If at all possible, include the employee in the delivery of the completed work. There is nothing like the pride that grows when an employee sees what they have accomplished put into action. Give the employee credit. Building a sense of worth and appreciation is a very important aspect of delegation.;
Once delivery of the work is well under way or completed, hold a follow-up discussion about how the effort went. Discuss these three questions with the employee:
Document the answers to these questions to a "delegation" file for future reference. This learning could be very helpful for continuous improvement.
In this lesson, we covered the following:
Challenges of delegating
How to delegate like a pro
I hope you got a lot out of this lesson and enjoyed the avatars. Go make a difference!
Take this quiz to see how well you learned about delegation.
Ron Sarazin is the President of Olympic Performance, Inc., which includes the Sarazin Institute. Ron graduated with a BS in Industrial Engineering from Oregon State University and has completed advanced training at the University of Idaho and Stanford University. He has successfully been examined as an ISO 9000 lead auditor by the Governing Board of the National Registration Scheme for Assessors of Quality Systems (also known as the IQA) in the United Kingdom.
Ron started his professional experience in 1976. He has held leadership or officer positions with the Aluminum Company of America, PACCAR (owner of Peterbilt and Kenworth Class 8 truck manufacturing companies), Portland General Electric, and Mutual Health Systems, Inc. (a dental services health care company, now part of InterDent, Inc.).
In 1991, he launched Olympic Performance, Inc. As a consultant, his speciality is in helping clients develop powerful strategic plans and effectively deploying and monitorng them to realize results. His services also include conducting employee surveys, guiding projects back on track, facilitating the completion of business case analysis for potential investments, improving process performance through rapid process improvement, helping stressed organization through change, and providing exectutive coaching for key management personnel.
Ron is an accomplished programmer, author and trainer. He developed two computer programs marketed nationally: Fixed Asset Depreciation and M105D. He created a 360-degree leadership assessment instrument titled Management 2000 and authored a training module titled Managing Customer Expectations, incorporated in the Partners for Quality standardized curriculum. He developed two certificate programs he teaches for Portland State University including a five-day course titled Creating Customer-Centered Organizational Excellence and a ten-day course titled Business Analysis Certificate. He also teaches five additional courses he wrote titled Operational Excellence, Project Planning and Organization, Project Execution and Management, Introduction to Microsoft Project 2013, and Intermediate Microsoft Project 2013. For Marylhurst College, he teaches Introduction to Project Management in their Mini-MBA program. All of Ron's classes are also delivered through Olympic Performance, Inc.
Ron has written and delivered training and consulting programs through Olympic Performance, Inc. on many topics including service, customer loyalty, employee loyalty, and quality. In 2009 he published a book titled Action with Traction on the subject of strategic planning and operational execution, incorporating many of the subjects on which he teaches and consult.
Ron is also an experienced presenter and facilitator. For example, he was keynote presenter to over 500 franchisees of the Papa Murphy’s company on the subject of Customer Loyalty and to the Alaska Telephone Association on the subject of Member Loyalty. He has facilitated planning sessions for City, County, and State elected officials as well as for staff organizations. He has also facilitated strategic planning and operations planning for for-profit and non-profit leadership teams, and helped many teams at all levels in a wide variety of organizations challenged with differing priorities and personality conflicts become functional and effective. His engagements include several client relationships where he helps leadership teams keep their plans current and their actions focused, facilitating periodic review sessions as well as guiding development of effective balanced scorecard and related feedback systems.
Active in his community and profession, Ron is Board Chair for the Washington County Community Action Organization, a $20 million non-profit focused on addressing the issues and conditions of poverty and operating Head Start programs throughout Washington County. He is also a member of the Department of Industrial and Manufacturing Engineering Industrial Advisory Board (OSU). He has been chairman of the Clackamas County Budget Committee, vice-president of the TTS Youth Competitive Soccer Club, and chair of the Tualatin Americans with Disabilities Act Board. He is a former elected official for the Tualatin City Council and served on the Tualatin Budget Committee, Tualatin Development Commission, Washington County Cooperative Library System Board, and Tualatin Core Area Parking Board. He is past chair of the Tualatin Architectural Review Board and past president and director of the Portland Chapter of the Institute of Industrial Engineers.
He served as girls’ junior varsity soccer coach for Tigard High School for three years and continues to coach competitive youth soccer for the Timbers Westside Metros club, headquartered in Beaverton, Oregon.