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Delegate well, do well, be well

daftandbarmy

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Delegate well, do well, be well, and not necessarily in that order...


“Delegation is not a binary thing. There are shades of grey between a dictatorship and an anarchy.”

― Jurgen Appelo

To executive level leaders, time is like fresh air to a foundering swimmer: they can’t get enough of it. As noted in this landmark study CEOs routinely described managing time as one of their greatest challenges... https://hbr.org/2018/07/the-leaders-calendar

The consequences of this lack of time are all too familiar to most people in just about every workplace: a higher risk of organizational under performance and senior executive, and staff, burnout. So what is the best way for senior executives to, literally, find the time they feel they need to do an even better job, individually and corporately, while having a life?

One well known approach is to delegate work to others. Senior leaders who can, or do, not delegate run the risk of creating a dictatorship at their own expense, as well as at the expense of others. On the other hand, those who delegate too much, or unwisely, risk anarchy. Regardless, even those open to delegating sometimes discover the hard way that delegation is far from a time winning panacea. In short: it can be tricky to figure out what tasks can, and cannot, be delegated.

I’ve noticed that many of my clients view delegation through dynamic of staff experience levels and task complexity. For example, most know intuitively that when their staff are less experienced and the task is more complex, they are less likely to delegate.

But what if there was some kind of simple tool that a decision maker could use to quickly and effectively make delegation decisions on a more consistent basis while avoiding ‘dictatorship and anarchy’? Below is a simple matrix, which I’ve used successfully during coaching sessions with executive level clients, which might help you to make that tough call to delegate, or not. It rests upon the two key questions most executives ask before delegating:

1.      How complex is the task?, and

2.      How experienced are my staff?

To Delegate or Not to Delegate, that is the Question…

The matrix provided below can help you determine, first of all, if you should delegate a task or not. If the answer is ‘yes’, it can also help you determine the levels of preparation that might be required before you delegate. It can also help clarify who might need more support during the task completion process:


https://www.linkedin.com/pulse/delegate-well-do-richard-h-eaton/
 

dapaterson

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I've heard it said "The more I try to do, the less we accomplish".
 

NavyShooter

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If I never delegate...my staff will never gain the experience.

If I do delegate, I'll end up having to spend twice as long explaining the task, and then correcting it to bring it to my standard.

On the other hand, if I don't delegate, I'll end up doing all the work myself, and will never get a break, and the staff will never learn to do it.

Where is the balance?

Is a subordinate's 90% solution adequate for the task at hand, or does it need my own personal 100% solution?
 

Jarnhamar

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I enjoy trying to mentor and challenge subordinate ranks by delegating tasks with the safety net that if they screw up its on my shoulders.

I find the CAF (well, army) loves talking about mentoring. But in practice that shit takes too long, they want results now so they can take the next bound for the next leap.  We preach the benefits of
transformational leadership but view anything not transactional as lazy and weak.
 

Kirkhill

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NavyShooter said:
If I never delegate...my staff will never gain the experience.

If I do delegate, I'll end up having to spend twice as long explaining the task, and then correcting it to bring it to my standard.

On the other hand, if I don't delegate, I'll end up doing all the work myself, and will never get a break, and the staff will never learn to do it.

Where is the balance?

Is a subordinate's 90% solution adequate for the task at hand, or does it need my own personal 100% solution?

First problem might be in thinking/knowing that your own, personal solution is the 100% solution.

Personally I have found that all my solutions require some further action to bring them closer to desired end state.  I have never pushed a button and had everything work right the first time.

The decision on delegation is usually between my first iterations 80% solution and my delegates 70% solution.  After iteration 2, I might add another 80% of 20% (16%) to achieve a 96% solution on my own, while my delegate might add another 70% of 30% (21%) to achieve a 91% solution on their own.  Together that 2nd iteration might be 80% of 30% (24%) bringing the combined solution up to 94%.  By the third iteration the difference between approaches is vanishingly small, my delegate understands my thinking and I know my delegate.
 

garb811

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Jarnhamar said:
I enjoy trying to mentor and challenge subordinate ranks by delegating tasks with the safety net that if they screw up its on my shoulders.

I find the CAF (well, army) loves talking about mentoring. But in practice that shit takes too long, they want results now so they can take the next bound for the next leap.  We preach the benefits of
transformational leadership but view anything not transactional as lazy and weak.
And the vast majority of the CAF have no clue about what mentoring really is. Leaders at all levels throw around the statement that they are mentoring their subordinates all the time, but in reality what is going on is teaching and coaching.
 

daftandbarmy

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garb811 said:
And the vast majority of the CAF have no clue about what mentoring really is. Leaders at all levels throw around the statement that they are mentoring their subordinates all the time, but in reality what is going on is teaching and coaching.

I've seen some excellent mentoring on the 'armoury floor', which gives me hope.

For example, one of my section commanders was a keen machine gunner. Through sharing his enthusiasm for teaching people about the weapon he attracted like minded individuals who wanted to know more about it and, boom, a 'club' was formed.

This 'machine gun club', as I unofficially named it, went on to develop some very good junior leaders, and gunners. All I had to do was say 'yes' every time they wanted to build some C6/ C2 sight training into the company training plan.

Obliquely, I refer to this 'good fanatic' in this article https://www.berlineaton.com/blog/good-fanatics

 

dapaterson

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daftandbarmy said:
All I had to do was say 'yes'

That is a great deal of what leadership is - saying yes to subordinates, letting them try things and grow and develop, empowering them.

It's a foundational principle of Improv comedy to always respond to an offer with "Yes, and..."; you build on what you're offered.  Maybe we need to send fewer officers to staff college, and more to Second City.
 

Blackadder1916

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dapaterson said:
. . .  Maybe we need to send fewer officers to staff college, and more to Second City.

Or maybe do both.  When I attended Staff School (back when the Earth was cooling and "Volleyball U" was still in existence), my syndicate, as a group activity, went to Second City one evening.  A fun time, yes, but there was also discussion the next day about lessons learned on public speaking and presentation skills.
 

PPCLI Guy

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I delegate so there is someone to blame if it all goes wrong, knowing that I don't have to share the acclaim if it goes right .....
 

Cloud Cover

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PPCLI Guy said:
I delegate so there is someone to blame if it all goes wrong, knowing that I don't have to share the acclaim if it goes right .....

Did you write that?
 

daftandbarmy

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PPCLI Guy said:
We really need a sarcasm emoji......  :sarcasm:

Ask and ye shall receive...

I really need to use that one myself more often too.
 
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