I recently took my team to Leadercast 2014. During our lunch break I was asking everyone on our team what their greatest takeaway from the morning was. Our 20 year old program director, Meredith, floored me with her response. I realized that I had learned the same lesson after years of struggling with delegation. However, she picked up on it and put words to my greatest challenge with delegation in a few hours. I learned a lot at Leadercast, but I didn’t expect this lesson on how to delegate tasks.
Back to my conversation with Meredith.
Me to Meredith; “What’s your greatest takeaway so far?”
Meredith; “I’m good at delegating tasks. I’m terrible at delegating decisions.”
And there it was my friend. I realized I had mastered task delegations years ago. In fact, pretty quick into my leadership journey I had delegating tasks down.
- Identity the next action step required.
- Decide the best equipped person to handle the action step.
- Assign it to them.
- Record the assignment in whatever task management system I was using at the time. (I’m now 100% on Nozbe and loving it thanks to Jackie Bledsoe Jr.).
- Followup with the person when the action step requires it depending on difficulty, due date, etc.
But, I never felt like I was getting ahead.
How about you? Do you feel more or less free to dream about the vision of your organization and how to reach it as you delegate more and more? I for one was always confused. Why was I still so swamped when I had everything delegated out?
Enter Dave Ramsey book Entreleadership.
From Mr. Ramsey, I learned and use the 3 suggestions rule. (Actually, I only require 2.) The rule is this. When you bring me a problem, come with 3 (or 2) suggestion on how to fix it. After I’m presented the problem and the suggested solutions I decide on a course of action. I make sure the person knows why or why I’m not using one of their suggestions. Over time, I learn how my team thinks and they learn how to think like me when solving problems. After a few rounds of this, I can eventually say; “You no longer need to bring problems like this to me. I trust you to decide.”
Overall, this has been working great. And Meredith helped me see what I was actually doing in this process. I was delegating decisions.
When I would simply delegate task in the past without delegating the authority to make decisions….I was setting my team up to have to come back to me with questions. However, once I started passing on the responsibility to make decisions I started noticing more time in my day to focus on the things that only I can do.
With Dave Ramesy’s approach I am teaching my team how to make decisions. Thus, delegating decisions making when the team member is ready. Now that Meredith has helped me connect the dots, I’m going to be able to be even more intentional.
What I Have To Stop Doing.
I also had another light bulb moment. And, that lead to me apologizing to my team. Recently I would reply like this when asked about something I didn’t need to be involved in. “You decide, I don’t care.”
What I thought I was saying was this; “You can decide this. I trust you. I don’t need to care about this, because you have it covered.”
What I now realize I was covertly communicating. “You decide. I don’t care about small things like this. It’s such a small decision, it’s beneath me. You are only capable of handling this kind of small thing and I don’t care. Only bother me with the big important stuff.”
Not what I thought, felt nor meant. But the words we use matter.
Now, I will simply reply; “Thanks for asking. However, I trust you. I’d like for you to decide. I’ll support you whatever you decide.” And, after saying this a few times, I’ll just cut it down to; “You can decide this. I trust you.”
What About You? Do you delegate decisions as well as you delegate tasks?
What Do You Know?
I would appreciate any insight you can share on delegation in the comments or by sending me an email.