Tuesday, 22 December 2009

Successful Manager : How not to messup Delegating

Do you delegate? Do you believe in delegation? Do you just delegate or you are involved? Are you a chicken or pig in our story? Well all these questions sometime shine in your minds, rest of the times you ask yourself. If not more, some of your seniors bring this to you when you start taking more and more responsibilities. In our step towards finding the orgasms of Management we explore this vital skill we call “Delegation”.

When we as Managers decide to trust others with appropriate responsibility and authority so they can achieve the set of tasks designed that were meant for us, we call it Delegation. But do we use and misuse delegation? Yes we do, don’t we? A long time ex-colleague got me on gtalk today and told me how much he is enjoying his new BDM role... with a flavoured cream on top he added this statement “I don’t have to do all the rubbish, I just delegate the rubbish to others so I can do better things”.
I asked back “what do you earn?”
he said “Experience and challenges at the cost of my work getting done by others in time”
I asked “What do you loose?”
I got no answer.... So the point here is we as managers believe in delegation, and yes we have to.. Delegation is an art through which we groom our future, we prepare our subordinates to take up tasks that we do, thus add value to their growth. We move over those tasks of us that we can easily do, to be done by others for reasons like “Time” , “More work” , “Building the next level” etc etc. But do we really use Delegation effectively? I think Yes, I think No.... meaning sometimes Yes and sometimes No... So here we put down some tips on delegation, better of how to handle Delegation..

1. Identify what to delegate
It’s very important that we know what we need to delegate. Many of us really really don’t know. For instance everything that we take to one of my fellow colleagues he wants to do it, all by himself. His answer on any task would be “I will do it” in return he loads up himself with a piled set of tasks that he cannot do all by himself. I always use a dinner course technique when deciding what to delegate... as in When you get a plate full of food, all the food that you love... what do you do? You pick the best of things that you love and that too in certain limits... You don’t have only ice cream for dinner.. so when you have tasks to do... go by the dinner menu technique.. pick your items you want to have and pick the items that you want others to have... pick the quantity correctly so that you don’t have to loosen your belts when you are done ;)

2. Who benefits?
Yes you do. But who else? Ideally we think of benefits for us when we delegate... like I delegate the task so I can go home early. Or I delegate the task so I can do something more important. I think when you choose items you want to delegate you should also think of benefits of the delegation. A more simplistic view is when you delegate tasks that are second line that you are doing and that can help:
1. Get someone else too able to take care of in your absence
2. Prepare the person to the next level
Benefits that the person doing it will derive from it have to be explained better, This will ensure that the benefits of delegation have multi routed outputs. Thus increasing possibilities of the task succeeding.

3. Identify the person
If this fails the whole delegation model fails. The person who the task needs to be delegates needs to be picked up well. For instance you cannot pick up a Jr. Developer to do a Code review for you if you are an architect, it may be good for him but in the end a disaster for all. Imagine having a Air hostess getting control of a Airbus 380, even if the pilot thinks autopilot works? Or imagine the pilot turning the mode of the plane to autopilot when in a stormy situation? Yes the person doing it has to be chosen. Keep the following things in mind when you choose:
1. Is he ready to do it.
2. Is he capable of doing it.
3. How much of time he needs from you to do it? Do you have time to give him?
4. What happens if he fails?
5. What happens next if he succeeds? Do you have expectations to be managed?
6. Will the person do this without having to move out of what is hi core interest?

4. Understanding
Its very important that you as a delegator explains the delegated task very well to the person who is going to take it up. There has to be a very clear understanding on :
1. What needs to be done.
2. What are the ways to do it
3. Who , How , When to contact for what
4. Success and failure criteria.
5. Process and guidelines.
6. Expectation from you in terms of results and steps in results.
7. Final output

5. Time, Support and Help
You can’t just delegate a task and vanish. Delegation brings more and more responsibilities... Once you delegate you have to follow up with the person (Not to micro Manage) but to ensure that the required help and support is seek. Ensure that you give enough time to the person to understand and get adapted to the task. Follow up so the person seeks required help and support from all sectors that involves his/her task. Facilitate whatever possible to let the person get a good control and fall into the correct and positive rhythm. Ensure that required authorities and responsibilities are listed to the member. If its a checklist its well and good. Imagine a security guard asked to protect a premise not having access to the premise? Remember even if the person doing the task is responsible for it, you as a delegator is the accountable authority for it.

6. Review , Evaluate , Feed it back.
Yes.. Frequently review it, evaluate the status, provide guidelines and feedback appropriately. It cannot be worse than not reviewing a delegated task. This can break the moral of the person doing it because he/she may think that it is less important and thats why it is delegated, also the task will loose its own importance.

7. You don’t need to be a Manager to delegate, You don’t need to delegate things to others
Yes. You necessarily not be a manager. Imagine a part of the code you are supposed to work is also being worked by someone else... you can delegate a part of your task to your colleague. Imagine you have to go pay bill for your phone and your friend is going out to do something, can it save some time for you? The other side of delegation is you don’t need to just delegate things to others...you can delegate it to yourself.

8. Prepare a checklist
Always. When you delegate a task, make sure you have your own checklist to follow up. It would be good to create a checklist for the person who is doing it. This helps in clear definitions of things to do.

9. Credit reasonably
A lot of times leads and managers think that delegation is a easy way to succeed. They get someone else do the task and prefer claiming the credit for it. This creates a very bad culture and over and over gives a broken moral to the team. Ensure that the credit is given to the people who are doing it. Leadership is on how best you get it done, leaving others to learn from things and at the same time letting then have their share of cake they deserve.

10. Failures
Before delegating analyse the risk and consequences of failures. You may not want to delegate a task that will involve a huge deal that can change the future of your company. If you are the best person to work on, DO IT. Seek help and manage delegation in doing it. Define the failure items , potentials and criteria so the person doing it knows what NOT TO DO and avoid. Also be supportive if a delegated task fails.. this can else turn a disaster.

11. Be Reasonable
Amit a day ago gave me an example on how his lead would give a task to him without his knowledge of how and what to do, and also giving an estimate that is unreasonable, forcing him to do it. Finally when it came to review and seeking responsibility how his lead would not turn up. This shows that you maturity level is low and you need to grow up to give a reasonable time to everyone you delegate the tasks because they are not as experts as you are.