You're ambitious and want to perform at the top of your game. You take up a lot of work to get things moving forward, and because of that you have the impression that you're always running short of time. Perhaps you also have the feeling that you are regularly spending your precious time on things you shouldn't be doing, or that less important things are eating up your time (like going through your inbox for example - see our previous blog 'Yesterbox' for a solution to that ;-) )
And then those smart consultants/teachers/coaches come in, telling you that you have to delegate more. But you've already tried that one, right? And you ended up with even more work afterwards, right?
If you recognise yourself in this short scenario, you definitely have to read on!
Delegation is a widely discussed topic. In every management/leadership course there's a module about it. Delegation is also an important part of every time management system.
And despite all this knowledge of and attention to the subject, I still see a lot of 'Ambitious Leaders' struggling with delegating their tasks.
After working with individual coaching clients for over 10 years, I've seen multiple delegation mistakes:
- Some only delegate the small and unpleasant tasks.
This inevitably creates the perception on the receiving end that they're only good enough to handle the sh*t. Or sometimes even worse, that they are not capable or not trusted enough to handle bigger items.
- Some confuse delegation with emptying their overloaded 'task-buckets'.
They just empty their overloading 'bucket' somewhere, in the hope that it ends up with the right person and that he or she knows what to do with it.
- Some are not clear enough or not realistic about the timeline.
If you delegate something, you expect something to happen - sooner or later. If you're not clear about by when things should be done, then it's no surprise that they're not finalised on time.
Also, you might be totally unrealistic about your requested timeframe (e.g. because you're building in some extra safety time -which means again that you don't fully trust the person you're delegating to!-), or you might have started delegating too late.
But all these mistakes are nothing compared to the single most important delegation mistake: delegation is a very simple act, it's an exchange of information. And each time that there is an exchange of information, I see the same mistake coming back:
We think we understand each other!
And this is one of the biggest human misconceptions!
Or as Frans Klavora, one of my most experienced coaching mentors, stated:
"We, as humans, have the natural inability to understand each other!"
If you delegate something to someone and you approach it from the conviction that whatever you say will be understood and will lead to the expected result, you're probably much too optimistic and will be rather brief in how you explain or cross-check things. Which, in the end, only worsens the problem of not understanding each other and of -with all the best intentions on both sides- not surfing on the same wave.
If, on the other hand, you approach the same situation from the angle that the person you're talking to will probably not understand what you're talking about, you will handle the situation very differently.
You will ask much more questions of a confirming nature, assuring that the words and expectations you're sending out have landed. You will explain things differently, you will check things differently. All resulting in a form of communication that brings the people involved much closer together around the final result that needs to be obtained.
So, next time that you're delegating something, turn this into a little game. Approach the situation as if you were literally speaking a different language than the one you're delegating to.
- Make sure you double check whether the person you're delegating to fully understands the end result that needs to be achieved.
- Only when you have the feeling that your expected end result has been completely understood, you can go on to the next step: the creation of an action plan. Keep playing the language game, this time in opposite ways: only accept the action plan when you fully understand it and are completely convinced that the proposed plan will lead to the expected result.
BONUS TIP: include monitoring moments in that action plan, so you can keep track of the progress once you're out of the picture.
BONUS TIP 2: make sure that the person to whom you delegate feels ownership over the action plan and the monitoring moments. This can easily be done by letting him/her create the planning.
- On top of the points listed above, also keep an eye on the other mistakes I've mentioned:
- Don't only delegate the less important/less interesting topics. Build trust in your people!
- Don't just drop your task somewhere. Make the process of delegation rewarding.
- Don't be vague or unrealistic. Make things very specific and clear, and listen to what others have to say about your expectations.
This might all sound easy and straightforward. Perhaps even so easy that it's almost too easy to bring you results! Well, let's start by bringing the above into practice and then see what happens when you approach things differently. Things such as understanding each other, creating monitoring moments, creating ownership, and building trust are probably the hardest to implement.
So if you want to discuss these items further or if you want to adapt them to your specific situation or context, let's get into conversation!
Feel free to drop us a line by email, give us a call, or directly book a (re-)connect session in the agenda (but be prepared, and approach that conversation with the mindset that we will probably NOT understand each other ;-) ):
Written by Dennis Fredrickx
, Integrity Coach & Business Booster
Dennis helps Ambitious Leaders to reach more in an easier way.