No One Can Do This Like I Would
Delegation is the art and a science of communication needs. For most of us, it’s a skill we acquire, not a talent that comes naturally. Delegation takes practice in order to fully share
enough information for another person to complete a task successfully. Have you ever left a meeting sure you knew what to do, only to realize later that you didn’t understand. Yeah, me too.
More than that, it takes the ability to communicate the importance of the task and to negotiate a work agreement that shifts the accountability for making sure that the task is on time, complete, and of high quality.
Before you delegate a job, have a plan to communicate to the person who’s joining your project. Great communication will help in making sure that you pass on accountability and a sense of mission with the work that you’re handing over.
- Start with the big picture. Decide what every person on the project must know. Offering the big picture context helps a new player immediately frame decisions and judgment calls properly.
- Show where this piece fits. By placing the delegated assignment into the context. We communicate its importance to us and to the success of the project.
- Explain and show exactly what a good result would look like. Write guidelines or goals for the task. Have examples of a prototype or something similar that you and the delegatee can discuss. Take the time to say what you want and what you like.
- Invest more time if the meeting can’t be face to face. When a conversation isn’t face-to-face, communication degrades significantly. Some figures say it goes as low as 35% comprehension without visual reinforcement. Send an agenda or samples before you meet.
- Know your goals and how you’ll check whether you’ve communicated clearly. Include and early sample to check that messages you think you communicated are the same ones that were heard. A quick look at a first step can save a project gone way off kilter.
The minute we delegate, communication becomes key. Unfortunately in an effort to show respect for other professionals we often tell them less than they need to know and still think we’re telling them too much. In like manner rather than looking like they don’t know, the often ask less than they might.
What’s the single biggest error you find you make when you’re asking someone to do work for you?
Tomorrow … Delegation Happens: Working with Friends Can Be Dangerous