Are you a micromanager? Or maybe one of those generalists who's so vague giving direction that your staff never knows exactly what to do?
Clients frequently ask if delegation is a style thing that can be learned. Or is it an art thing which is more intuitive; inherent to a manager's overall approach?
Delegation isn't just a simple matter of telling someone else what to do; and there's a lot of conflicting advice floating around about how to gauge the right approach for maximum effectiveness and efficiency. A few years back I came across a great outline by an English educator named Alan Chapman on his website. I think it's a solid summary you can use to determine how much autonomy you want to give your team members.
And (of course) any good manager knows that just because something's appropriate for one member of your team doesn't mean it will work for another. So consider each of your players individually. Noodle on these seven levels. And use each where appropriate to boost your effectiveness with your team members:
1. "Wait and be told, or do exactly what I say" - this is the no-delegation-at-all approach.
2. "Look into this and tell me what you come up with" - this is asking for investigation and analysis but no recommendation
3. "Give me your recommendation, and other options with the pro's and con's of each. I'll let you know if you can go ahead." - Asks for analysis and recommendation, but you're going to check the thinking before deciding.
4. "Decide and let me know your decision. But wait for my go ahead." - you are signaling that your subordinate is trusted to judge the various options, but (s)he needs approval before taking action.
5. "Decide and let me know your decision. Go ahead unless I say stop." - At this level the other person is starting to control the action. This is a good timesaving increase in autonomy.
6. "Decide and take action, but let me know what you did." - Here we are saving more time. This approach allows for a quick reaction on your part if the decision made was a bad one.
7. "Decide and take action. You don't need to check with me." - At this level you are giving your subordinate the most freedom possible. It demonstrates a high level of confidence in them. Ensure you have good controls in place to flag any mistakes before they can become a major hassle.
- till next time
John M. McKee is the founder and CEO of BusinessSuccessCoach.net, an international consulting and coaching practice with subscribers in 43 countries. One of the founding senior executives of DIRECTV, his hands-on experience includes leading billion dollar organizations and launching start-ups in both the U.S. and Canada. The author of two published books, he is frequently seen providing advice on TV, in magazines, and newspapers.