Graham Birkenhead, November 6 2018

The Art of Effective Delegation

I was talking with one of our fast-growing coaching clients the other day. Inevitably, with growth comes a little pain. The current pain for this CEO was that he had to let go of some control, and hand more responsibility to his staff so that he could spend less time in the business and more time on the business. It's not an unusual situation. 

The only problem was, his staff didn’t do things the way he did, and may not have his depth or breadth of knowledge. Often, he found it quicker to do things himself. Sound familiar? 

So, we got into the discussion about the benefits of effective delegation and how to do it. It went something like this: 

Good delegation is fundamental to a healthy and growing company. And sure, done the way we describe below, it may seem to slow you down a little at first, but with delegation you are achieving several things:

As the CEO, you know where the ship is heading and why (at least you should know).  So you know the major things that need doing – those big chunks of activity that we call projects or ongoing tasks.  There may be some of those that you absolutely need to do yourself, but wherever possible, you really should delegate. 

Delegation is a 2-way communication activity with 3 key steps: 

1 - You need to clearly understand not only what needs to be done, but WHY– how does it contribute to the bigger picture?  If you can’t explain it to yourself, you won’t fare much better trying to explain it to someone else.   

2 - Tell your staff person WHAT you want them to do – ideally face-to-face.  Then ask them to explain it back to you, especially if it is complex or new to them.  This usually makes them, and you, realise that it wasn't quite as clear or straight forward as you thought. 

3 - Leave the HOW to them.  You can ask them how they plan to tackle it. Do they have what they need to succeed?  Do they know what they are permitted to do, what authority they have?  The key is to have regular staged ‘reviews’, where you can answer questions, and provide more guidance or direction.  This is not micro-management - its good management!  

Overall, take on the role of a coach and mentor, rather than a teller, demonstrator or doer.  

Your challenge:    So, next time you want something done and you find yourself about to do it, take a step back and delegate.  Follow the 3 steps above:  ensure you know the WHY (it’s not just a whim), explain the WHAT(check understanding – yours as well as their’s), and then discuss the HOW (as much as needed, but no more). Not only will you have more time to work on your business rather than in it, you’ll be building trust, expanding your company’s capacity and strengthening moral.

Send us an email to let us know how it goes

Written by

Graham Birkenhead

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