Article: Delegate to
Skills to Prepare
Team for Success)
By Ed Sykes
On the first season on the
reality show, The Apprentice, Donald Trump would give the ultimate winner
the dream job of working for him, running one of his divisions and earning
$250,000 per year. On the final episode, the choice came down to two
candidates, Bill Rancic and Kwame Jackson, for the “ultimate” job. Both were
very qualified. Bill Rancic was the owner of a successful Internet cigar
business grossing over one million dollars a year, and Kwame Jackson was a
graduate of Harvard Business School and most recently worked for the prestigious
Wall Street investment house, Goldman Sachs, as an Investment Manager.
In my opinion, the
decision on who would receive the job came down to one thing…delegation. Both
Bill and Kwame delegated tasks to their “team members” and achieved success.
However, Kwame was asked several questions by Mr. Trump relating to how Kwame
handled one team member, Omarosa Manigult-Stallworth. Mr. Trump wondered why
Kwame let Omarosa get away with lying to him and not working with the other team
members to make the project successful. Kwame responded to Mr. Trump that he
didn’t know he could fire Omarosa. Mr. Trump stated that Kwame should have
asked if he could fire Omarosa.
Bill Rancic got the job.
This drives home the point…learn how to delegate to accelerate success both for
you, your organization, and your team.
If we know it is an
important key for our success, why don’t we delegate? Here are some of the
excuses I routinely hear:
No Time – I
have no time to teach a team member the tasks.
No Energy – It
takes a lot of energy to follow-up and keep team members on task for success.
I Can Do It
Better – I know what needs to be done and can do it better and faster so I’ll
just do it.
Why Should I? –
Why should I train someone to do my job?
Why? If you are in a leadership position, your job is to
take the time and the energy to train others to do more so that the you, your
team, and your organization are more successful.
Well, what are the
benefits of quality delegation?
You multiply yourself – The more you delegate, the more you create team members
that can accomplish much more in much less time. You are known as someone who
gets things done with self-directed teams.
You create a motivated group – The more you delegate, the more your team members are
motivated because they see you as someone who trusts them and their abilities to
get things accomplished. Because your team is motivated, they take more
initiative to create solutions, be more creative, and are willing to take on
You master stress and time management skills
– You are forced to prioritize your tasks and realize that there are tasks that
you do not need to do, yet would be perfect tasks to develop your
team members. By learning how to prioritize your tasks for delegation, you will
be less stressed during the workday and go home at the end of the day satisfied
that you accomplished more.
You are known as a person who develops people
– The more you delegate, the more you will be known within the organization as a
person who develops people. Remember, even when you think no one is watching,
someone is always watching the way you achieve success by developing your
people. Whether it’s management, other teams, departments or divisions, someone
is watching. The word will spread about how well you develop people. The
results, management will see you as a developer of people; and other employees,
both inside and outside of your organization, will fight to work for you because
they know you have a motivated, creative working environment.
opportunities for yourself and others
– By delegating tasks to others, you can then take on more advanced tasks that
will prepare you for future opportunities when they become available. This is
the main reason why the excuse “if I delegate my tasks to my employees, then
they can take my job” doesn’t fly in my book. Another reason why you
delegate tasks is so that you can develop yourself for future promotions,
monetary, and career opportunities. For example, if you want to become vice
president for your organization and you know that skills B, M, Z are required by
all vice presidents, then delegate any management tasks that you have already
mastered to your team members so that you can then ask for more “vice
presidential” tasks. When that position is available within or outside of the
organization, who do you think will have the inside track? You will! Because
you can say you already have the skills of a vice president, while developing
the people behind you to fill the void when you are promoted. Also, as a
leader, you never want your team members to be with you in the same position
forever. Thus, delegating tasks continuously prepares them for opportunities
that may come their way.
So how do we successfully
delegate tasks? Here are my seven steps to delegating tasks to achieve
success. These tips can not only be used in your organization for more success,
but in every aspect of your life to accomplish more.
Make sure you understand the
task so that you can clearly communicate the task to the person undertaking the
task. You must also understand what barriers and resources are required to
Also, you must understand
what tools you have to make the task successful. Along with resources needed,
if the person isn’t progressing on the task, what options do you have as a
leader and manager to make it successful? Questions you can ask is, “Can I
provide additional training?” or “Can I acquire additional tools?”
Or if they are not suited for the task, ask these questions, “Can I reassign
them?” or if they turn out to be detrimental to the project or team,
“What actions can I take to alleviate this situation?”
Find the Right
Find the person who is
motivated to take on the task. You may have someone who has the skills to do
the task but is not motivated to do it. This situation will not work. However,
if you have someone that doesn’t have the skills, but is highly motivated to
learn and is excited about the opportunity, then this is a good candidate for
delegation. The person must also be motivated to take on this task for the good
of the group as well as his/her own motivations. You might ask, “How does
this assignment help you achieve your career goals?” It also helps the
person has good communications skills to express any concerns.
Take the time to clearly
communicate the task. Communicate the expectations of the task. And most
importantly, communicate the ownership of the task. What I mean is that the
person assigned to the task will be ultimately responsible for the success of
the task. When communicating responsibility for the task, let the person know
the consequences of not completing the task and the rewards of completing the
task. For example, you might say something like this:
“Mike, this report to
justify the new computer system is important because if it is not done on time
our division will not have the tools to meet our customer’s needs. By putting
together the report by the June 15th deadline we will qualify for the
new computer system which will allow our division to exceed customer service
expectations, increase our organization’s bottom line and earn you a bigger
bonus and positive exposure for future opportunities. I know you will do what
it takes to make this happen.”
Note: If possible, show the employee how to do the task. Telling and
showing the person delegated the task enhances the probability of his/her
understanding and being confident with the task.
Provide Resources, Remove Barriers
our opportunity to make sure that the person we are delegating the task to has
the resources. Whether it is the time, people, or technology, it is our
responsibility to find out after understanding the task, picking the right
person, and communicating the task to provide the resources for success. I have
seen time and time again in a variety of organizations where the person
delegated the task has the ownership for its success but doesn’t have the
resources to be successful. Take the time to ask the following question,
“What resources will you need to be successful?”
find out what barriers might be in the way to successful completion of the task
and eliminate them. This could be people, organizational restrictions, or lack
of knowledge. For example, with people, the task you assign might require the
person assigned the task to work with someone who has a “challenging
personality.” Knowing this, you could make sure that this person with the
“challenging personality” understands the importance of this task so that he/she
does not hinder the success of the task.
Note: Let the person delegated know that you have an open door should he/she
have any questions concerning the task. Open communication is important for
this arrangement to work.
you provide resources and remove barriers for the person delegated the task, you
are ensuring complete ownership for the success of the task.
sure when the person leaves the meeting, that he/she understands exactly what is
expected. The typical interaction between a manager or supervisor and the
employee is the manager asks, “Do you understand everything we discussed?”
and the employee of course says, “Yes.” Then a week later the manager is
disappointed with the results of the task and asks, “What happened?” and the
employee says, “I didn’t understand what I was supposed to do.” We set
that employee up for failure by not taking the time to make sure he/she
understood what was expected to make this task successful.
asking the question, “Mike, do you understand the task at hand?” you
receive a closed-ended, or yes or no, answer. It doesn’t give you one ounce of
information on whether the person understands the project.
asking an open-ended question, “Mike, please share with me your understanding
of what is required to make this task successful?” the person giving the
answer is required to give a comprehensive answer detailing his/her thoughts on
the task at hand. The answer will give you an indication as to whether the task
is understood or not. Also, at this point, the employee may give you in the
answer a totally different and better way to accomplish the task.
the person delegated the task know that you have confidence in him/her.
Remember, in most cases, this task is new to hi/herm and by communicating that
you have confidence that he/she will be successful gives the confidence to
succeed. You might say something like:
“Mike, I’m glad we had the time to go over this task today
and you understand what is required to be successful. I am excited and
confident that you will make this task your own and put your unique spin on it.
I look forward to hearing about your progress on this task and the successes
along the way to its completion. Thank you for undertaking this very important
Followup, Reward, Followup, Reward
is where I go back to The Apprentice. Kwame’s follow-up, or lack of
appropriate follow-up with Omarosa, could have led to his team’s failing and
morale going down. It did lead to Kwame not getting his dream job.
are some tips for good follow-up:
you know the level of follow-up required.
One factor is the person you are delegating the task to and his/her level of
knowledge and confidence concerning the task. Ask! Some people may want much
follow-up, while other may require little follow-up. It also depends on how
difficult the task is to complete.
you have scheduled follow-ups.
Before you leave the first meeting, make sure you schedule your first follow-up;
whether it is one day or week, schedule that first follow-up.
progress at each follow-up meeting and in public if possible. Show appreciation (Read my article,
“Appreciate to Motivate”) in the meeting and, if possible, in public so that
everyone is motivated to do more.
get back on track.
In most cases it may be as simple as showing the correct way of doing the task
or brainstorming so that the person responsible for the task will come up with
the solution. This will keep the person and your team motivated toward the end
result. Or, in Omarosa’s case, what steps do you need to take to get the
project back on track? Possibly retrain, reassign, minimize, provide corrective
action or the ultimate action…terminate the person if he/she are knowingly
disregarding your organization’s policies and procedures. Believe me,
“Omarosas” are rare if you have taken the necessary steps along the way to pick
the right person.
If you follow the steps mentioned, you will be well on the
way to enjoying a successful career, business, and life and accomplishing far
more in less time.