Clarity is the Secret to Effective Delegation

As adults, we’ve grown from infancy being totally dependent on others through to teenage/early 20s where we felt independent. In adulthood, we realise that we can’t do everything and sometimes we require others help to achieve our objectives. Stephen Cover referred to this as being the state of interdependency.

Part of this understanding is ‘Delegation’, and the key to this is ‘Clarity’.

How often have you been delegated to do something that is veiled in mystique? When is it required by? How do I go about doing this? Who has responsibility? Why ME?

Or the difficult art of delegating? “I know the system so can do it quicker”! “I’ll be more accurate”! and a variety of other self-imposed reasons why we don’t. Even as an employed Director, I believed these things and wondered why I never had time to enjoy life, family and friends as I seemed either to be working or sleeping through exhaustion.

Here are some useful ideas that I have helped many clients grasp the element of effective delegation through clarity:

  • The Objective – Know the required outcome and be clear in this when passing a task on. Don’t assume they know, inform.

For example, if you stress to someone that you need an urgent report on a system you believe will benefit the business, don’t simply ask “I need a quick assessment as this is really important”, set the parameters.

What exactly is it that needs to be done? Do you just want a paragraph, a page, a 10-page report?  And assess what?  Sales, market share, range of products?  All of the above or something else?  Make the expected outcome clear.

  • Communication – Without clarity, perception of what is required lies totally with the person carrying out the task. I once gave a task to someone that took two days and when they returned with all the data, it covered far more than what I required. This resulted in wasted time and all because I didn’t communicate well enough.

Before handing out a task, check what you need to be accomplished and write it down, we are not telepathic (mind you, the wife always seems to know what I’m thinking!) so don’t expect the delegate to know what you want.

Leave the door open to requests for clarification and openly invite them to raise questions to obtain the direction they require.

  • Time – Begin with the end in mind (Stephen R. Covey). Agree progress updates, with expected deadlines or timelines. Take time to read submitted reports or have discussions. Where necessary, make relevant adjustments. If you ask for something quick, do you mean this afternoon, the end of the week, month, year? Think about how much time will be necessary but not just time, what other responsibilities the delegate has to work around. Discuss and agree a time frame.
  • Responsibility – Delegate responsibility with authority but remember, ultimately, it is YOURS. Define authority and accountability. What is their level of approach? Set the parameters. If there are to be more than one person involved, insure that all know who the lead is in this particular request. Everyone involved may be completely capable in their abilities but without leadership (and there is another subject in itself) you have a recipe for confusion.
  • Support – Refrain from belittling but ride the successes. Consider accomplishment rewards or benefits, publically praise their work or express future opportunities. Be there to answer questions, monitor (but not micro-manage) and ask for progress updates. Keep updating to show you are all on the same ‘Clear’ path.

The head of an orchestra can’t necessarily play every instrument but they know how to get the whole group to create a beautiful symphony due to setting clear direction. Delegation is no different.

Coaching to Success specialise in gaining clarity and responsibility. Should enhanced delegation skills help, please contact Neil by email or call 07761 187238 to arrange a complimentary meeting. Also, have a look at Neil’s interview video You’ll always be assured a warm welcome to discuss how we can help.