The who, when, why and how of effective delegation

Are you maintaining a healthy work-life balance?

Is your team taking ownership of projects?

Do you have ample time to check in on progress toward strategic goals?

Can you confidently take a break from your business and know everything will be OK?

 

If you answered NO to any of these questions, it may be a sign you are not delegating enough.

Not delegating the appropriate work to the right people as often as necessary can have serious personal and professional ramifications. The quality of work may go down, deadlines for urgent deadlines can be missed, strategic planning may likely be put off due to constant task execution, and burn out becomes a higher possibility.

One of the EOS® (Entrepreneurial Operating System) Five Leadership Abilities® is Delegation. Your ability as a leader to delegate and elevate is a discipline that is directly proportionate to the growth of your company. This allows you to elevate to your true skill set AND elevate the skill set of those around you. If a business requires 120% to run well, the effective leader will delegate and elevate the extra 20% that can’t be done personally. When you arrange the workload so you are working on the highest priority business objectives, and your leadership team and staff are working on meaningful and challenging assignments, you have a recipe for success.

 

When to delegate

Delegation allows you to make the best use of your time and skills, and it helps other people in the team grow and develop to reach their full potential in the organization. Delegation is a win-win situation for all involved when done correctly. Keep these criteria in mind when deciding if a task should be delegated:

  • The task should provide an opportunity for growth of another person’s skills.
  • Weigh the effort to properly train another person against how often the task will reoccur.
  • Delegating certain critical tasks may jeopardize the success of your project.

Management tasks, such as performance reviews, and tasks with specific staff assignments, should not be delegated.

 

To whom should you delegate?

Once you have decided to delegate a task, think about the possible candidates for accepting the task. Things to consider:

  • What experience, knowledge, skills, and attitude does the person already have?
  • What training or assistance might they need?
  • Do you have the time and resources to provide any training needed?
  • What is the individual’s preferred work style? Do they do well on their own or do they require more support and motivation? How independent are they?
  • What does he or she want from his or her job?
  • What are his or her long-term goals and interests, and how do these align with the work proposed?
  • What is the current workload of this person? Does the person have time to take on more work?
  • Will delegation of this task require reshuffling other responsibilities and workloads?

When you first start to delegate to someone, you may notice it takes longer to complete tasks. This is because you are an expert in the field and the person you have delegated to is still learning. Be patient: if you have chosen the right person to delegate to, and you are delegating correctly, you will find he or she quickly becomes competent and reliable. Also, try to delegate to the lowest possible organizational level. The people who are closest to the work are best suited for the task because they have the most intimate knowledge of the detail of everyday work. This also increases workplace efficiency and helps to develop people.

 

How to delegate

Delegation doesn’t have to be all or nothing. There are several different levels of delegation, each with different levels of delegate independence and delegator supervision.

People often move throughout these spheres during the delegation process. Your goal should be to move the delegate to one of the outer three spheres, depending on the task being performed. Make sure you match the amount of responsibility with the amount of authority. Understand that you can delegate some responsibility, but you can’t delegate away ultimate accountability. The buck stops with you!

 

Keeping control

Once you have worked through the above steps, make sure to brief your team member appropriately. Take time to explain why they were chosen for the job, what’s expected from them during the project, the goals you have for the project, all timelines and deadlines, and the resources on which they can draw. Next, work together to develop a schedule for progress updates, milestones, and other key project points.

You will want to make sure the team member knows you will want to know if any problems occur, and that you are available for any questions or guidance needed as the work progresses.

We all know that as managers, micro-management is not recommended. However, this doesn’t mean we must abdicate control altogether. In delegating effectively, we have to find the difficult balance between giving enough space for people to use their abilities, while still monitoring and supporting closely enough to ensure the job is done correctly and effectively. One way to encourage growth is to ask for recommended solutions when delegates come to you with a problem and then help them explore those solutions and reach a decision.

“The best executive is the one with sense enough to pick good men to do what he wants done, and self-restraint enough to keep from meddling with them while they do it.”

-Theodore Roosevelt

 

Key take-away: Delegate and elevate to your true skill set and that of your leadership team.

By Christine R. Spray

Employer resources for employee work-life balance

Happy employees is not something nice for employers to have, it is a need that’s directly tied to the bottom line. Of course, human happiness is worth so much more than a healthy balance sheet. Employers who foster a balanced working environment have employees that are more creative, not afraid to make mistakes, supportive of each other, contagiously happy, AND more productive. And let’s face it, it’s more enjoyable to work with happy people! Encouraging a healthy work-life balance is one of the easiest ways employers can influence employee happiness.

First, it is important to recognize a potentially unhappy employee who may be headed for burn-out. Some signs to look for:

  • Loss of interest: Burned-out employees cannot make themselves care about their work, which is the source of their stress.
  • Lack of emotion: Emotional responses are abnormal when someone is burned-out.
  • Loss of motivation: Former motivators no longer are effective.
  • Possible depression: Burnout is closely linked to depression.

Burnout is directly tied to increased turnover. Consider that when everything is totaled, 150 percent of an employee’s annual salary is the cost of turnover. This number is 200 to 250 percent for members of management.

Offer more employee control

Traditionally, employers set all of the parameters concerning jobs. Keeping all of the control, however, augments stress on employees. Simply offering employees more control over their time can help establish a better work-life balance. Studies show that employee control actually increases loyalty and productivity. When, where and how work gets done is the direct purview of employers. Depending on the type of work, flex time, job sharing and telecommuting may all be viable options for employers to consider.

Ask employees for suggestions

Employees have some of the best ideas on how to improve their jobs and the company as a whole. These ideas, however, are not always communicated. Many employees do not feel that people in management care, and that most managers do not have the time to sit down with each employee. The best way to hear about new, innovative ideas is to create an employee suggestion program. Some tips for improved participation:

  • Make it simple: Create a simple process for giving suggestions; complicated rules do not encourage creativity.
  • Respond: Let employees know that you have received their suggestions and will consider them.
  • Thank: Thank each employee who gives a suggestion, even if they are suggestions you do not use.
  • Reward: Employees who come up with useful suggestions need to be rewarded.

Reward staff

This may seem basic, but rewarding your staff is an effective method for promoting work-life balance. Employees who feel appreciated are more confident, and rewards reinforce the behavior you want to see repeated. Rewards can also provide breaks that reduce stress. Rewards do not have to break the bank. There are simple ways to thank employees for their service.

  • Public acknowledgment of service
  • Extra time off
  • Awards
  • Promotions
  • Parties

Establish consistent communication

Keeping employees informed not only makes them more accountable but also helps them understand where they fit into the overall picture. Such understanding is key for employees to feel valued. Companies using the Entrepreneurial Operating Systemâ (EOSâ) will be familiar with the 5-5-5. This tool is a quarterly conversation managers have with their direct reports to stay connected. It is a regular opportunity to make sure both parties are on the same page with essential roles and responsibilities as they relate to corporate core values. The 5-5-5 is also an excellent way to gauge employee happiness in the role.

Employee Assistance Program (EAP)

Given the unavoidable stress of life, which may be exacerbated at work, employees may face times when they need professional assistance. EAPs provide employees access to counseling and other services. Without the aid of EAP counselors, the effects of stress can spiral out of control. Employer-sponsored EAPs give individuals the opportunity to seek help and learn the skills necessary to improve their work-life balance. Counselors can address a full range of topics causing employee stress, including personal crises, finances,  and substance abuse. EAPs are useful investments because they prevent turnover and reduce absences, plus give employees strategies for work-life balance.

 

 

Key take-away: Employers can and should take an active role in helping employees achieve work-life balance.

 

By Christine R. Spray