Coach, Then Delegate

CEO’s and managers want to believe that delegating a task is as easy as flipping a switch. All managers want the ability to give instructions and become instantly relieved of certain responsibility, giving you more free time with your schedule. However, in reality it almost never works this way. Often times you are forced to step in at the last minute and save a task before it’s too late. Through your desire to fix the job for them, employees don’t have the opportunity to learn. Employees aren’t left to handle with the consequences of their actions, and therefore are deprived of the chance to discover creative solutions. If this cycle continues to occur, employees will begin to believe that no matter what they do, their work isn’t good enough. The following guidelines will enable you to mold the new employee into the task completer that you originally set out to get.

Prepare. If your employee lacks experience with the organization or task and doesn’t have the skills required for the task, show them how it’s done. Thoroughly do the work the first time while your employee shadows you to learn for next time.
Communicate. If your employee realizes they don’t know how to execute a task to get a favorable outcome, they may be afraid to admit they cannot complete the job at hand. You can speed the process by encouraging the employee the first time they are completing a task. Let them know that it acceptable to not understand the first time through. This can help them absorb lessons in a meaningful way.
Educate. If your employee knows some of the steps needed for a specific task but struggles with others, understand why this is. Show them how to perform a task by clearly explaining why you are doing things a specific way. Calling out the individual steps illustrates the underlying structure of how you attack a task.
Ask. If your employee knows how to complete a job but has to follow steps rather than doing it automatically, then they have not reached their highest level of efficiency. To further increase their grasp of the topic, ask them what they have learned. Asking specific goal specific questions allow the employee to realize they know more about the process than they thought.
Support. Even if your employee is fully capable of handling the task, that does not mean you can leave them without any guidance. Schedules change, stakeholders generate new priorities, and new developments pop up. Let them know that you are available for support as needed.

Simply giving away a task will not automatically generate a great outcome, no matter how clear your initial instructions are. Getting someone to take on a new task requires analysis, feedback, and constant adjustments. It may seem counterproductive to put in extra time coaching someone through a task you didn’t have time for in the first place. However, the investment in proper training pays off in efficient employees and saved time and headaches.

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