The fun about delegating

April 5, 2009

In this article, I wish to address one of the most effective management technique, which is also one of the most poorly used: delegation.

First, just a few facts
Delegation is in the very essence of management, since a whole team of people have to do the job. This group has been hired for a very simple reason: one person cannot do the job.
In order to make the teamwork towards the goal and work as one entity, management jobs have been created. Their role is not to do the job but to get the job done. And all the trouble lies in this subtle nuance.

What does make delegation work?
You have hired people to do a job, and that is for this very purpose that you have to supervise them.
You have hired them because there are competent; so do not worry of having them do what you have hired them to do. If you doubt their competence, why did you hire them?
You have lots to supervise and to attend to, so define clearly who does what and who is accountable for as well as by when the job goals must be met. Delegating will save you precious time.
Be very specific about what you expect form your staff.
Give feedback and ask for feedback, when you communicate, be brief and to the point. Your staff expects you to do that. And remember that communicating effectively is not the same as talking/socializing too much.
Be present and walk in on a regular basis. Better many short contacts during which you will immediately hear the most important information than long periods of no contact interrupted by long formal meetings.
When you do this properly, as a manager you will feel fulfilled, you will be happy to go to work, as very likely your team will perform quite well. On the other side, your staff will feel appreciated, will have confident and will take more initiative that will benefit your company and will be loyal.

So what does go wrong with the delegation sport?
What situation do you get when the manager does not delegate properly?
The manager spends more time being involved in his staff’s daily activities. The result is staff frustration and lower motivation. Nobody likes having someone looking over his or her shoulder all the time.
The results of such behaviour are many. The most typical are an overworked manager who loses his ability to look at the big picture, wasting his time in things that would be done anyway (remember? he hired competent people) and getting more and more pressure from his own supervisor, as he is having more and more difficulties to meet the deadlines.
Competent people are not interested in working in a messy environment nor are they interested in having the feeling that their boss does not trust them fully. This will result in higher turnover, which will even increase the workload of the overworked manager.
The main cause of bad delegation is fairly simple: an insecure manager who does not trust others.

Copyright 2009 The Happy Future Group Consulting Ltd.


How to build a team that delivers superior performance?

April 4, 2009

In this title, we have several items we need to address in order to answer the question. These items are:

  • Build the team
  • Deliver
  • Superior performance

Build the team
Either, you start with new staff or have to deal with existing employees, building a team comes down to the following:

  1. First of all, you need to know what results you want to achieve, short-term, as well as long-term. This is the only way you will need what talents and skills you need to have in your team.
  2. You must have in your team all the abilities you require, but how there are distributed between the team members is somehow secondary. Just like a sports team, you need a mix of those skills and talents. The team members must be complementary. You will not succeed if you have only goalkeepers or only forwards.
  3. Next to the talents and skills, you must make sure that the team members are compatible with each other. Another essential element for a successful team is the interpersonal “chemistry”.
  4. You, as the manager, are the one that will have to nurture this chemistry, by making sure that all the team members will work towards the common goal. Individual agendas are simply not acceptable if you want superior performance.
  5. You must make sure that your team members are in a position in which they do what they do best. There no worse waste than having people doing things they are not good at, or not being able to do what they have that can add lots of value to your company. This sounds obvious, and yet it is one of the most common sins that organizations commit.
  6. Since your team members have all their own particular mix of skills and talents, change the jobs descriptions and task distribution to make sure their abilities are used at their maximum, if needed. Changing a job description is easy, but changing a person is not.

Deliver
In order to deliver a superior performance, you need to identify the following:

  1. What to deliver.
  2. When to deliver.
  3. How to measure progress and know where you are in the whole process.
  4. Communicate regularly and frequently with your team members about the progress made and give immediate feedback to make sure that the plan is on track.
  5. Make such meetings efficient and never leave without making an action list allocating responsibilities and timelines for the completion of these actions.

Superior performance
In order to achieve a superior performance, you will need the following

  1. Set superior goals to your team. If you in this, then you will not beat your competition
  2. Set superior goals to your team members. If you fail in this, see above.
  3. Know your competition and what they want to achieve. If you do not know this, how can you know that your goals are aiming higher than theirs?
  4. Communicate a lot with your team members. Make sure they know what you expect from them, and let them know how they are doing. There is nothing like too much communication. There is something like too many inefficient meetings, but that is for another article. If you want to achieve superior performance, count on average a very minimum of half an hour of communication with each of your direct reports per day.
  5. Use performance indicators to monitor progress. This is different from an incentive, such as a bonus. An incentive helps getting a better result (well at least that is the idea) by promising a reward. A performance indicator as the term says it, just indicates how good a performance is at a given point in time, and helps you take corrective action if needed.
  6. Encourage a bottom-up communication. Your staff are the ones closest to the action. You, as the manager, are one step further. What they see, hear and experience is of great value, as very often they have the best views on how to deal with business situations. Listen to what they have to say! All they expect from you is to give them directions and make the harder decisions.
  7. Nurture a culture of entrepreneurship! Since you have selected people with superior abilities, let them express their full potential by delegating and encouraging them to take initiative. Although their level of talent makes this easy, this does not mean that you should be lenient in the way you supervise and manage. Delegating just saves you a lot of time that you can spend on coordinating and communicating.
  8. Nurture a culture of performance! This sounds obvious, and yet this is where many companies fail. This is not about pep talks. This is about creating an environment where beating expectations becomes a game. This is about involving your team members in setting the superior goals. You know when you have achieved this when your staff tells you enthusiastically that they think they can exceed the previously set goals.
  9. Nurture a culture of challenge! By this, I mean healthy positive challenge, of course. Talented people know they have talent and they like to express their opinions. Feel good when your staff challenges your ides and your objectives, especially when they claim that they can achieve even more. Of course, your role here as a manager is to make sure that they are realistic, by challenging them, too. Do not feel threatened by such behaviour; it is very sound and stimulating. Nothing kills initiative and enthusiasm as negativity and dictatorship (on the other hand, authority is good).

Copyright 2009 The Happy Future Group Consulting Ltd.