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Delegation: Turn Task Management into a Teaching Moment

In theory, delegation sounds amazing. Do you want to pass off work to someone else so you have more time for other projects? Yes, of course you do. In practice, delegation is more complicated. It involves giving up control, something that may feel difficult for a new manager or someone with micromanagement tendencies. It involves prioritizing your workload and communicating clearly with your team. Easier said than done! Why is delegation so tough and how can leaders ensure they are providing their team members the right information to help them be successful?

Many managers are promoted because of their competency in their prior role. Read that again...their prior role. Let’s look at an example – a Marketing Associate, with skills in copywriting and SEO optimization, is promoted to manage their team. As a manager, they set the strategy, coach employees, and lead their team. They are no longer spending most of their time on execution, an area they clearly excelled in. Some naturally transition into a coaching role and love helping others figure out how to approach their work. The problem comes into play for those individuals who have a hard time passing the baton to a member of their team. Letting go of control can be tough, especially for someone who excelled at doing the tasks themselves. New managers can start by delegating a low-risk project and slowly build up to passing off higher-profile assignments after trust is gained.

It is key for managers in this situation to set up their teams and themselves for success when passing along a responsibility or task. Colin Boyd, international speaker, and communications expert, created a simple delegation system called the P.A.T. model to remind leaders what key information needs to be passed along. “P” stands for purpose. This is the “why” of the assignment. What will happen if it is not completed? What will take place after this assignment? The purpose is the motivation that fuels ownership of the project. Encourage your employee to ask questions at this stage so they have the big picture. Without the purpose, you may find that people make a change to the project plan or substitution that does not fit the bill. For example, you ask for holiday gifts to be sent to clients but hesitate to mention that your big client is allergic to nuts (a key detail when the plan was to order snack gift baskets!).

You are now ready for the “A” which stands for action. The level of detail you provide at this stage depends on the prior knowledge, experience, and education of your employee. Is your employee a new hire? It is likely a good strategy to provide a step-by-step project plan. No detail is too small! On the other hand, you can provide less instruction for more experienced staff since they have the know-how to fill in the blanks and make reasonable decisions. This is a good opportunity to ask the employee what information they need to successfully accomplish the project. Managers can put on their coaching hats here and involve their employee in identifying the right course of action. This is a great step to utilize when you consider who to choose for the project.

SOURCE: United Benefit Advisors (UBA)