A 3-Step Blueprint To Help You Delegate Better And Free Up Time
In a recent blog, we shared the difference between delegating and abdicating so that you create collaborative professional relationships that work. We developed this further in one of our October membership webinars which explored the ways in which delegation can positively impact every part of our lives, and the three key components you need for it to work effectively.
I’ve personally been reflecting on the benefits of delegation; autumn was a big transition for my family. In addition to running Elevate Talent, we moved house and both my children went to university. If I hadn’t been able to delegate, I’d have lost my sanity!
I love my work and I love to allocate tasks because it gives me the power to prioritise and choose how I spend my time (and builds a more effective team). Perhaps you need time off to look after elderly parents, or you want to travel or enjoy other pursuits; being able to delegate makes that possible. Without the right support, things fall apart.
Tension creeps in when people are under too much pressure and have no reliable back-up, and it happens within families when individuals fail to play their part (for example, if my children had refused to pack up their bedrooms to move house!).
Delegation is the ultimate collaboration. At Elevate Talent we teach the acronym TAR so the process is easy to remember:
- T – Training
- A – Accountability
- R – Review
As we covered in our last blog, training is crucial if you want a job to be done well. The person delegating and the person taking on the task must both understand the process and put a system in place for it to work.
To delegate well, we need to remember the philosophy: tell me and I forget, show me and I may remember, involve me and I’ll understand.
Even if all the indicators are that the person you are training fully understands a process, reiterate each step to help make sure the process is seamless.
One way to check the training is thorough is to encourage questions that engage both parties. If a team member is passive during training, it rings alarm bells; there’s no certainty that they understand. It helps both of us do better when we engage and ask good questions (more on how to do that without sounding confrontational or aggressive in the previous blog How Negative Feedback Can Help Boost Your Career).
Relevant questions might include:
- WHAT did you see to make that decision?
- WHY was this process chosen?
- WHEN did you first notice this?
- HOW can we adapt to make this better?
- WHERE was X done this way?
- WHO are the people who could do this better?
When we ask great questions, we receive insightful answers that help us build a strong team we can rely on and trust; trust is reinforced when we check in with team members in a respectful way.
The second step to successful delegation is accountability, and, just like training, it’s a two-way street. Both parties need clear, measurable objectives (which dramatically reduce the risk of oversights or time-consuming mistakes).
Checking that you’re on the same wavelength as the delegator or delegatee saves costly errors. Micromanaging (where people feel harassed or doubted) is ineffective and erodes trust, but it’s always wise to offer a mini update to verify the task is progressing well (and make course corrections where appropriate).
The end goal must be specific and measurable. For example, sales teams are financially driven: their goal is to hit or exceed their target. In my first role in banking, my goal was to save money (not make it). If my success had been judged by the money I had made for the bank, my results would have been considered a failure.
For any process to work effectively, the objectives must be clear and both parties need to diarise and honour a deadline. Once the deadline has been met and the agreement completed, the third step to effective delegation is to review the task (and the process).
A key question to ask at the review stage is whether there was enough lead-in time; what takes you half an hour might take someone new to the task three hours (or 15 minutes if they have found a better way!).
We are living through a period of rapid change; actively reviewing any collaborative process creates an opportunity to develop best practice and new ways of working.
At the review stage it’s beneficial to ask:
- What worked well?
- What could have worked better?
- Was there a shortcut?
- Are there any known downsides to the shortcut?
- Should the process include additional steps or drop any?
- What else could be done differently?
So far we’ve set out the most effective way to delegate on a one-to-one basis; the activities are very similar when delegating on a one-to-many basis.
Delegating to a team
To effectively delegate to a team, the TAR process (training, accountability, review) is repeated within the team itself. The request is agreed with a team leader and the team then discusses and allocates specific tasks to each member based on their level of competency, expertise (or ability to learn) and availability.
Each member will then set their own measurable targets and deadlines, keep up to date with each other’s progress, and review the project on completion. The team leader will repeat this overall update with you.
The TAR process ensures that everyone knows what’s expected of them; and, over time, we create more cohesive and capable teams (or dynamics with another person), because we enhance individual skill sets, free up time (which creates choice and eases pressure) and build trust.
If you’d like to develop the skills that will help you get ahead in the workplace, or if you lead an organisation and want to develop your female talent pipeline, contact Elevate Talent.