How often did we hear Captain Picard say that to his first officer on Star Trek? It’s the last step of delegation. Carry on!
In the first of this two-part series, we discussed what to delegate. Now let’s go over how.
Before we begin, a reminder: learning a new skill that involves learning several steps can feel overwhelming at first. If you’ve ever learned how to dance, you probably felt you had two left feet for a while. Then a time comes when it clicks and you’ve not thinking about the steps, you’re doing them, without having to remember them. So it goes with applying the six steps of effective delegation as well.
Step One: Choose the right person.
The better you understand your team, the easier this will be. A project that requires collaboration, for instance, would be a poor fit for an employee who enjoys working alone.
Step Two: Explain why you’re delegating this task or project.
Why did you choose them? “Kaitlyn, I’d like you to conduct the first round of interviews for our new hire. You’ve sat in on other interviewers, and the next step for your own development is to take the lead. It will give me time to focus on our next strategy meeting, while you practice your interviewing skills.”
Step Three: Provide clear instructions.
“I’ll need you to review all the candidates resumes we’ve received from HR. Choose up to five for interviews. Develop a set of interview questions based on the criteria we’ve established last month.
“Schedule one-hour interviews. Make sure you make summary notes after each. Then rank-order the candidates.
“I’d like to see your recommendations no later than three weeks from today.”
I frequently add something like this, “Now, just to make sure I’ve been clear – repeat back to me in your own words what you heard me saying.”
Step Four: Provide training and/or resources.
“Kaitlyn, I know you recently attended the Effective Interviewing Techniques class – but it’s been a few weeks. I’m going to send you a link to a one-hour video review of the program you can watch if you need to get back up to speed.
Step Five: Be clear about responsibility andauthority.
In some ways, this may be the most important step. “Kaitlyn, I want to be clear that you’re responsible for choosing the top three finalists for this position. Anyone you rank lower than third will be eliminated.
“At the same time, I’ll make the final decision based on the conversation we have after you’ve completed the interviews.”
Step Six: Afterwards, offer feedback.
“Kaitlyn, you did excellent work on these interviews. I liked the questions you developed, especially the one that asked them to describe a time when something went wrong and how they dealt with it. I’m quite satisfied with your list of the top three candidates, and following our discussion, agree that Abbie will be a good fit. Good job!”
Note, if Kaitlyn hadn’t done very well, it would be a coachable moment(!). It would be your job to give her specific, timely, focused feedback on what she did well, where she missed the mark, and what she could do differently in the future.
And there you have it.
Six steps to delegation mastery. Not every delegation will use all six steps (“Thomas, I would like you to start emailing our staff zoom meeting login instructions to everyone. Make sure they get them at least two days before the meeting. Thanks!”).
But the most important – the ones that stretch your employees to learn new skills, make more critical decisions, and reach closer to their potential – are worth taking the time to do deliberately.
Make yourself a little cheat sheet with the six steps, if that’s helpful. This week consider one stretch delegation you could make that would 1) take something off your plate, and 2) help one of your people grow.