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Leaders and delegation

Rowena (Ro) Crosbie is the president of Tero International Inc.

Clean your room. Please, clean your room. I’ll pay you to clean your room. You can’t go out until you clean your room…

Rewards, punishments, begging, nagging... Why is it so challenging to get people to do things?

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Delegation, whether at work or at home, is an area where many leaders struggle. Many times it seems simpler and more expedient to do the work ourselves. 

When done well, delegation benefits everyone. Leaders free up time for other activities. Followers grow and contribute.  Organizations achieve more. Sadly, many of us have never learned how to delegate well and we stress over whether the delegated task will get done right, or at all. Here are some fast tips.

Leaders must correctly diagnose two areas: skills and interest. If someone knows how to do the task and likes it, delegation is appropriate.  If one of those two variables is lacking, a different leadership action is needed.

1.     Skills and Knowledge

As leaders, we often make too many assumptions about what people can do and what they know (or should know). It is further complicated by employees who underestimate the task or overestimate their own skills and abilities. When someone lacks skills or knowledge in any measure, delegation is risky.

Let’s return to the “clean your room” example. It is common for parents to believe that their young person already possesses the necessary skills for this job. Do they? Really?

Why would a young person know how to clean a room well? Why would they share the same definition of “clean” that a parent does? If you have ever been met with the response “I did clean it” and the result doesn’t meet your standards, chances are there is a skill or knowledge gap. Delegation wasn’t appropriate.

Leader Action: Training and coaching.

2.     Interest and Motivation

If they have the skills and knowledge, can the leader delegate? It depends. Do they also possess sufficient interest and motivation?

All of us have things to do that we are skilled in but lack interest. We procrastinate. We make excuses. Does the individual find the task itself motivating? If yes, delegation is appropriate. If not, delegation may fail. You may find this is true of the exercise program you keep delegating yourself to do. You know what to do – you just don’t want to do it.

Leader Action:  Support and encouragement.

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Comments

I look forward to implementing these ideas when dealing with my two teenage boys. Thanks.

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