The following is a post that we shared several years ago. We’ve had several clients ask us to run it again as a reminder of the steps to delegate effectively so that they can share it with their colleagues and staff.
As coaches and consultants, we find that many people regularly struggle with delegation, and they tend to feel uncomfortable admitting it because they believe they should know how to do it.
In our experience, delegating is a challenging skill . . .
one that few of us are taught.
People are frequently told they should, “just delegate that” but when they do, and they don’t get the results they hoped for, they give up and just heap the task onto their already full plate.
So, today we’re going to share the 3 steps that will create more successful results when you delegate to others.
Individuals are most successful when they’re engaged in a process and can influence how it unfolds. Yet often when managers are delegating work, they hand off a task with no context, without sharing what success looks like, and without explaining how they’ll need to work with (or around) others to get the task done.
So, whether you’re delegating to a C-suite colleague, a supervisor, staff member, a person who is working on your home, or your child, consider these 3 steps as you’re delegating a task or project:
Step 1: Context
Explain the larger context to the person you’re delegating to.
- Tell them what you’re trying to get done, how it fits into the big picture and why it’s important.
- When you ask someone to do something for you, they’ll be much more likely to succeed if they understand what you’re trying to achieve and see that their contribution is important and valued.
- You’ll have engaged them in the larger process so they can see that their work matters.
Step 2: Content
Tell them the specifics of what you need done.
- Really talk it through with them.
- Describe what success looks like, who they need to work with or ask information from to succeed, what the timeline is for the effort, and what the potential ripples will be of this going well or going poorly.
- Again, if people know what you’re asking of them, they can give you feedback on whether they can actually do what you’re asking, in the timeframe that you need it, working with others or alone.
- They’ll have an opportunity to influence you as you determine how you’d like them to move forward.
Step 3: Connection
Be explicit about how you’ll follow up or how you’d like them to follow up.
- Don’t hand something off and act like it’s no longer your concern.
- While you might hope that they’ll let you know if they can’t get it done, have run into an obstacle, or are struggling to understand exactly what you wanted, they probably won’t unless you’ve agreed on check-ins to make sure it’s going well and to help them navigate any difficulties they’re having.
- People do best when they feel connected to the person who has delegated to them and have a sense of the ways their work is directly helpful.
- These check-ins are an opportunity to remind them of the ways the work is helpful to you, and to help them understand any new information you have as things unfold.
The ability to delegate is critical to success in work and life. It takes some time and effort to ensure it’s done well, but what you’ll find is that as you delegate effectively to the people in your life, you’ll build a trusting working relationship that will allow you to be more effective and successful over time.
This week as you think of those things you need to ask of someone else, practice these 3 steps and see what a difference it makes. And, watch how you get things delegated to you. See if you can ask your manager to give you clarity on the 3 steps — Context, Content, and Connection — so that you can be highly successful in your tasks as well.