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Delegation the Right Way

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It's no secret that people who rise within organizations do so by effectively delegating. If you don't know how to effectively delegate your career will hit a wall. Delegation not only gives your team the opportunity to grow, it also frees you up to work on more strategic things.

Managers are often reluctant to delegate because they believe they're the only ones who can do it right. This attitude becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy, because team members never get the opportunity to work on "stretch" assignments and therefore aren't able to grow.

"Your performance bar is set as high as your weakest link," says Donna Genett, Ph.D., organization development consultant and author of "If You Want it Done Right, You Don't Have to Do It Yourself!" According to Genett, delegation applies to many more situations than most people recognize. Whenever anyone asks anyone to do or change anything, that is delegation.

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Here are a couple of Genett's keys to successful delegation:

Don't Over-delegate to Your Best People. Most managers delegate too much to their "go-to" people, which leads to burnout. Conversely, the "non-go-to" people are under-utilized and not adding value. It is critical to work with these lower performers in order to raise expectation levels or, if this isn't possible, to make other decisions about their future employment. If we don't manage people to our expectations, they will manage us to theirs.

Delegate, Don't Dump! Too often, managers delegate without being completely clear on the desired outcome. If managers would take more time on the front end of a project, being crystal clear on what a successful outcome would look like, they would end up spending less time on the backend trying to fix what went wrong. Managers need to communicate what determines success. Then they can focus on the outcome rather than how to do it. Ask the person to paraphrase what they understand the outcome to be to make sure you're both on the same page.

The ability to successfully delegate is critical to increasing productivity in an organization, but you have to do it right. Our advice to managers: Make sure to let others who are involved in the project know who you have delegated it to and be clear about this person's level of authority.

Managers should also be hands off. Many make the mistake of delegating but not letting go. They get sucked in by their own desire to be involved. As long as things are heading in the right direction in an acceptable manner, don't interfere.

Learning to effectively delegate will yield short and long term benefits for you, your team and the company. Those managers who understand how to delegate will raise their group's performance level and be on the fast track for promotion. Just as you grew when your boss gave you opportunities, do the same for those reporting to you.

Fred & Gladys
Whelan Stone
Executive Search and Coaching
Authors of GOAL! Your 30 Day Career Plan for Business & Career Success