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Effective delegation

29th October 2015

This week's topic is about effective delegation, a subject I stumbled upon by reading the 7 habits of highly effective people.

We all know what delegation is, you give a task to someone and you can keep working on something else while waiting for the results, that would be the simple version. How to do an effective delegation marks the difference between good and best.

Why delegation?

I think it is a pretty common situation specially at work, you are told to do something and either they clearly tell you the steps you have to take like in a kindergarten "do this then do that and tell me when you are finished" or you get a task with no clear requirements that you have never done before no clear results and you have to sort everything out by yourself.

I have been asking myself if there was a better or a more effective way to delegate and which would it take to do it properly.

Gofer vs Stewardship delegation

Gofer delegation means “Go for this, go for that, do this, do that and tell me when you are finished”. Most people who are producers have a gofer delegation paradigm, they focus on getting the job done. If they are given a management position they will think like producers too, they don't know how to set up a full delegation so the other person is committed to achieve results. They are focused on methods, they become responsible for the results.

One-on-one supervision of methods, how many people is it possible to supervise that way if you have to be involved and supervise every move?

There is a much better and effective way to delegate, the stewardship delegation.

Stewardship delegation is focused on results instead of methods. It gives people a choice of method and makes them responsible for results. It takes more time to set up but it pays off in the long run.

This type of delegation involves clear, up-front mutual understanding and commitment regarding expectations in five areas:

  • Desired results. Create a clear understanding of what needs to be accomplished, focusing on what, not how, results not methods. Spend time, be patient. Visualize the desired result. Have the person see it, describe it, make out a quality statement of what the results will look like, and by when they will be accomplished.
  • Guidelines. If you know the failure path of the job, identify them. Be honest and open. Point out what not to do, but don't tell them what to do. Keep the responsibility for results with them.
  • Resources. Identify the human, financial, technical, or organizational resources the person can draw on to accomplish the desired results.
  • Accountability. Set up standards of performance that will be used in evaluating the results and the specific times when reporting and evaluation will take place.
  • Consequences. Specify what will happen, both good and bad, as a result of the evaluation.

Trust is the highest form of human motivation. It brings out the very best of people. But it takes time and patience, and it doesn't preclude the necessity to train and develop people so that their competency can rise to the level of that trust.

I think stewardship delegation takes time to set up and to get it right however I also believe that during the process we will be setting the basis of a long relationship based on trust.

Note: Tomorrow I am heading to the Web Summit in Ireland, so you can basically figure out what my next post is going to be about :)

I am pretty excited and full of expectations about the event so now you know the reason why I am attaching the following video to this post :) Keep smiling and don't forget to be happy!!!

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