In a previous issue, we talked about delegation. To recap – delegation is getting things done through other people. You use this technique when you assign problem-solving and decision- making authority to an assistant, subordinate, other employees or a group. Delegating is allowing others to help you succeed. Really, everyone wins. The safety manager is free to manage, and employees handling delegated assignments develop new skills. Here are seven tips to help you delegate.
Before delegating, make sure training is provided if necessary. To suddenly begin delegating tasks to untrained personnel causes confusion and mistrust. A gradual approach is necessary. Identify jobs that can be delegated. If no one is trained for them, then you must provide instruction.
Describe the framework of the assigned project. Giving explanations is as important as instructions. Explain the reasons why the task must be done. Discuss the limitations of time, resources and money. Tell it like it is and cover all the facts of life in the company.
Describe the desired end result. While you are always accountable to your boss for the results of any delegated task, you must hold your people accountable to you for their actions and performance.
This is where it is imperative to set standards for the assigned task. Take a look at how your local Occupational Health and Safety board sets standards. Many rules are performance-oriented. They tell you what must be done, but not specifically how to do it.
When delegating, give your people the flexibility to take the initiative and be creative. Don’t be afraid to set your standards high in terms of what you expect to see accomplished. High standards create top-notch performers.
It’s important to note here that for delegation to work, you need mature employees who support your goals and are competent and motivated to perform the tasks assigned.
Ask for a restatement of the assignment and gain commitment to goals. Always ensure that the bottom-line goal of a project is clearly understood and appreciated. This is imperative. Any questions must be resolved up front. Encourage the person to ask for clarification on aspects of the assignment. Never assume that an employee understands all the aspects of the task until you have personally tested their understanding.
Gain the employees’ commitment to the end result you are trying to achieve. This is where your gut feeling comes in. If you have the sneaking feeling that they are not truly interested to the level you want them to be, then do what every good leader does: select someone else. Choose your people wisely. Look for those who have a deep-down commitment and belief in what you are trying to achieve.
Discuss the employees’ initial ideas for completing the project and suggest other possibilities. This will give you a good feel for the capabilities and thought processes of your employees. This gets the person and the project off on a positive note. Try to anticipate potential problems and forewarn the person that they may arise. Be honest—it will save time in the long run and keep the person from becoming discouraged.
Establish monitoring procedures and feedback required. Set up a definite timetable to get together and check progress. These short informal sessions allow for mid-course corrections, ensuring that the goal is kept in sight and the project proceeds as planned.
Do not delegate an assignment and then attempt to manage it yourself. To do so will only invite resentment and mistrust from subordinates. This is an easy trap to fall into, especially if you are just learning how to delegate effectively. It can be very difficult to stand back and allow things to happen and people to learn. The true leader practices restraint and patience.
Remember! Delegating can help you produce results that matter. From day-to-day routines to project work, delegation can help you accomplish your goals safely and effectively.