Delegation at its best sets up capable people to do their best work for you in their own way. Low-yield delegation is command and control. Here are five simple steps to delegation excellence, based on many executive coaching assignments where I worked with clients on developing their best in this area:
1. Engage the best person or team. Look with harsh realism at their capability, throughput, level of self-motivation, and current workload. All must be “green lights.” Compromising on the “who” of delegation is a self-limited practice.
2. Crystallize first for yourself, then your chosen one(s), what you want done, and conditions for success. Explain what you need done, when you need it, and what must be true at the end for you to be delighted with the outcome.
3. Contextualize your request or need. Explain why you need it—explain how it fits into the bigger picture. This is often skipped “in the interest of time.” Ignoring or glossing over this step is almost always a mistake.
4. Supply necessary materials and authority. Give the person or team the resources, responsibility and authority necessary to get the job done. When you delegate resources, responsibility for the outcome, and decision-making authority to the same person or team, you create conditions for ingenuity.
5. Verify. Agree on a simple, powerful “push” progress measure and process. You’re busy, and don’t want to have to “pull” information out of the responsible person or team. Agree on a check in method that sends you simple information needed to follow along, and course-correct as necessary, and that raises a flag if/when there’s a break down of communication and/or progress.
Take the time to engage, crystallize, contextualize, supply, and verify when delegating, and you’ll likely get the best from your people and teams.