Are You Trying to Master it By Asking the Wrong Questions?

by | Change to Goal Achievement & Implementation, Communication, Leadership, Management Training


In my coaching practice I often hear, “How can I be a better delegator and get more off my plate?” I understand the manager/leader is looking for better time management. But he or she is still focused on himself/herself which is the opposite of the mindset of delegation. How about these questions instead?

  1. How can I be a better delegator to empower each person in the organization to grow and learn?
  2. How can I be a better delegator to push decision making lower into the organization and closer to the customer to enhance the customer experience?
  3. How can I be a better delegator to bring out everyone’s creative ideas to make the company more innovative?
  4. How can I be a better delegator to elicit staff commitment to the organization and its growth goals?
  5. How can I be a better delegator to avoid the disruptions and expense of staff turnover?
  6. How can I be a better delegator so I’m a role model for others in the organization to also delegate and get these benefits everywhere in the organization and its culture?

These are real leadership questions that are focused on the team and on the organization. Each of these identifies the true benefits of delegation. It is much bigger thinking.

The most effective manager/leaders:

  • Carefully select the right person to delegate to and identify why (reward, capacity, needs a challenge, needs to develop a skill)
  • Define the task or project, (what needs to be done and how much leeway is there to be creative in getting it done)
  • Specify the desired end result, (what it looks like and how it fits in the big picture)
  • Provide plenty of instruction and/or practice
  • Identify resources, (people, money, training, space, reprioritized workload)
  • Coach the person in her decision making, (Q&A helps her think it through and develop better decision-making skills)
  • Hold the person accountable (define milestones)
  • Checkup, encourage and provide feedback at those milestones and throughout the process
  • Coach the person to see inevitable failures as learning opportunities,
  • Believe in the person until she believes in herself, celebrate successes

Please use the above as your checklist each time you delegate a task or project to someone. It’s fair to your direct report. It also will produce a better result.

Here is a little more explanation of the questions above:

  1. The direct report feels respected and challenged. Her confidence grows knowing that she is being trusted with a new challenge to master. She feels empowered that her manager/leader believes she’s up for the challenge and is willing to support her in mastering the challenge.Delegated decision making (often called distributed leadership) puts decision making closer to the person touching the customer.
  2. That means that customers don’t have to wait for a manager/leader to pay attention to the situation. Customers want immediate and no-hassle problem resolution. Also, those customer touching staff are empowered to bring feedback from customers back into the organization to develop better products, services and processes.
  3. Innovation comes when individuals feel their ideas are welcome and they feel that their managers/leaders won’t punish them for mistakes. People try things when they are encouraged to fail forward. An effective delegator turns failures into learning opportunities.
  4. Part of our human nature is the desire to belong and contribute. By delegating, the leader/manager is including him in the team effort. By acknowledging the mastery of the delegated work, that person’s contributions are being honored and he’s more likely to reciprocate to the organization his time, energy, respect and creativity to help the company fulfill its goals.
  5. Most people don’t quit jobs, they quit managers. Especially in today’s world where workers are highly mobile looking for new opportunities. If she has an empowering manager who continually brings out her potential to master more and more delegated challenges, she’ll stay. The company will not have to deal with the costs and disruptions of recruiting/hiring/training/managing a replacement. Delegation has a positive impact on the bottom line.
  6. People model what they see their bosses do. When the leader/manager delegates effectively, the direct reports will experience the personal benefits. They will want to delegate similarly to their direct reports (now or in the future). When this permeates the culture of a company, there is more productivity, better morale, greater innovation, and improved growth.

Do you feel like delegation is something you should do, but don’t do? Maybe you don’t think you have time for the process of delegation, or don’t have the right skills, or it’s just not a habit that you’ve developed yet. Maybe you’re too afraid that the people you delegate to will fail and the impact of that would be too disastrous. Yet you’d like the benefits for yourself, your people and your organization. Contact me. I can help you get past whatever is in your way and guide you to build new habits. Select a time on my calendar and let’s talk.

Jeri Quinn

Jeri Quinn from Driving Improved Results is an executive coach, management consultant, speaker and author who focuses on communication in her work with executives and companies. She is the author of The Customer Loyalty Playbook, 12 Game Strategies to Drive Improved Results in Your Business. With more than 40 years as a serial entrepreneur.

Quinn has worked with executives and teams in over 40 industries, spoken at major business expos including New York City’s Javits Center, facilitated business development and extraordinary customer service at institutions such as MoMA and AIG, and has partnered with New York City, The Kauffman Foundation, Citibank, Merrill Lynch, HSBC, and Signature Bank to educate their clients.


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