Seven Deadly Sins of Delegation

UnloadDelegation done well makes the difference between a harried, overscheduled life and a focused, balanced life.
You have 24 hours in a day, just like everyone else.  When you delegate well you will multiply your hours and accelerate your success.
To achieve delegation success, avoid the 7 deadly sins:

  1.  Wrong Person –  you must select the appropriate person.  Does he or she have the skills or capability?  Is the task tapping into her strengths?   When you delegate you want to give the task to the person who can deliver, not the person with extra time on his hands. Identify the right person for the right task.
  2. Unclear Outcomes – Beyond just telling someone what to do, it’s essential to explain the why, the what and the measurement.  Answer: why does this need done?  why this person?  what needs achieved?  how will it be measured?  Define success and make sure that it’s fully understood. Clarity is key in successful delegation.
  3. No Deadline – when do you expect completion?  Your level of urgency will not match until you share your deadline.  You may want to include check points along the way to ensure that things are going according to plan.  The larger the task, the more beneficial check points are to make progress.
  4. Lack of Boundaries – delegation is more than telling someone what to do.  Delegation done well requires clear boundaries which clarify how much freedom there is to deviate from the instructions.  Tell your delegate how much authority he or she has to make decisions and take action on your behalf.
  5. Spotty Communication – delegation is a two-way process.  It’s critical to be available to answer questions, clear up confusion and connect your delegate to others as needed to the accomplish the task.  Communication must be clear and consistent throughout the delegation process and ideally conclude with feedback.  We’ve been guilty of delegating things that were delivered differently than expected because out explanation was insufficient.  We learned through the feedback process how to be more effective in our assignment of the task.
  6. Assumptions – the curse of knowledge can make you stupid by assuming that the person you are delegating to has the same level of skill or insight that you do.  Clear up assumptions by asking questions and ensuring that the delegate fully understands the task and their responsibility.
  7. Partial Delegation – delegation is defined as “entrusting a task or responsibility to another person.”  If you are partially entrusting, then you will not get the full benefits of delegation.  The person you delegate to must have your confidence and commitment.  You’ve probably violated the first deadly sin if you lack confidence.  Delegation is not a “your way or the highway” management skill you have to hand over responsibility in order for you and your delegate to get the full benefit of the process.

When you have delegated and someone has successfully completed the task, it’s time to celebrate.  Give the person credit and appreciate what they’ve done.  Whether it’s perfect or done the way you would have done it is irrelevant.  Focus on progress not perfection.

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