You must not mistake delegating jobs with telling people what to do. If you simply tell your kids to clean their rooms, then you’d better get ready for a fight.
True delegation only happens when people agree to assume a responsibility. If you want to learn to delegate, you need to be clear on the delegation process.
A successful delegation has seven steps.
First, identify a desired outcome and get your “delegatee” to agree that they want the desired outcome as well. Second, determine the standards and guidelines of a successful job. Third, help them to identify their resources. Fourth, make sure the responsibility has clear rewards and consequences. Fifth, give them time to practice. Sixth, once they’re ready, get out of the way and let them have total responsibility for the project. In other words, don’t keep throwing in your two cents about how they should proceed after you’ve asked them to assume the responsibility. Seventh, budget a specific time to monitor their progress, so that you can reward the delegatee for a job well done, or enforce the consequences of a job poorly done.
Please notice that a delegation must begin with an agreement between the two parties. If you have no agreement regarding the desired outcome, you will be constantly pulling teeth.
For example, my mother used to decide when it was my turn to take out the trash. Moreover, she would always decide when it was my turn to take out the trash without warning me, or asking me. After dinner, while the whole family was watching television, she would simply announce that during the next commercial, I was to take out the trash. Obviously, I hated it. So every night, I complained, whined and argued.
Why? First, I was afraid of the dark and didn’t like taking the trash out at night. Second, I naturally resented be told what to do, even though I was being told by someone that I adored. After all, doesn’t everyone resent being told what to do?
My mom did a much better job with delegation when she taught me how to cook. First of all, when I was still quite young, she noticed that I liked to watch her while she cooked, so she figured that I was the right person for the job. Next, she began to ask my opinion about what I’d like for dinner. Pretty soon, she started to teach me how to cook my favorite things. Slowly, without my even being aware of the process, she began to delegate the task of cooking to me.
The desired outcome was obvious. Dinner had to be ready each evening, or the family couldn’t eat.
The standards and guidelines were clear. We needed a protein, a salad, a starch and a vegetable. If I forgot one part, my mom would simply ask, “What kind of vegetable do you think will go with that?”
My resources were clear. When my mom picked me up from school, she would ask, “What do you feel like having for dinner?” I could fix whatever I wanted, so long as it was within our food budget. If we didn’t have the raw stuff at home, we’d drop by the store together.
Whenever she suggested a new recipe, she helped me to practice the recipe.
The responsibility was mine. Never once did my mom order me to start the dinner. I knew what we were having. I knew that dinner needed to be ready by six. My mother would simply ask, “Do you want to start the rice, or should I?” until one day, I volunteered to start dinner on my own.
My progress was monitored at each meal-and rewarded lavishly.
In fact, the rewards and consequences were the best of all. First, whenever I cooked, I was loaded down with compliments about how tasty everything was. Second, I got to cook whatever I wanted to eat. Third, my mother would invariably utter the same magic words each night as she excused our family from the table, “Lynn did the cooking, so the rest of you kids can do the dishes.”
Now that’s a reward worth cooking for.
By the time I was ten, I was cooking for a family of six on a regular basis. At twelve, I even fixed an entire Thanksgiving dinner on my own because my mother threw her back out. I was proud of my ability to help and happy to assume the responsibility.
Delegation reigns supreme.
Remember the process.
First, identify and agree upon a desired outcome. Next, clarify standards and guidelines, and identify all available resources. Give people time to adjust, learn and practice, then completely turn over the responsibility to them. If you want to achieve a delegation that lasts, you must learn to abandon yourself to the strengths of others. Get out of their way, and allow people to reach the desired outcome in their own manner. Allow them to choose their own course. Finish by setting clear rewards and consequences, so that you can monitor their progress and reward what’s appropriate.
Again, notice that delegation must begin with an agreement between both parties. If you want your delegation to really work, then the person to whom you are delegating must want the result as much as you do. And the best way to achieve such an agreement is by demonstrating a link between achieving the desired outcome and satisfying one of their basic human needs…