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Central Scotland | amackie@sandler.com

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Having lead teams and delivered management training for many years now, I have come across almost every challenge and frustration you can imagine. Delegation with its’ frustrations and challenges comes up regularly in our leadership and management training sessions. How do you stop your team members from delivering exactly what you did not want?

Have you ever asked someone in your team to do something and got a completely different output than expected or desired? From my own experience, I know how frustrating this can be. Why does it happen so often and how can you as a manager stop it from happening again?

Many leaders think that if they have made themselves clear, articulated well what was required and checked for questions that should be sufficient. However, if your team member is certain that he/she understands the task then obviously no questions will be asked. What many leaders may forget is that effective communication is the response you get, not the information you put out there.

Have they heard what you think you have said? Or have they heard what they think you said? One thing I have learned along the way is that checking the understanding (instead of checking for any questions) is the key to ensuring you get the output you require when delegating tasks.

I have developed this management system to provide clarity, while achieving ownership, commitment and engagement from your team members ultimately reducing frustration for both parties.

Manage Expected Outcomes

Do not talk about the task or explain how to do it. Instead, agree the output/outcome – explain what good looks like. It is also worth explaining why you want it and what you are going to do with it. Get your team member engaged in the activity; make it more than just a task, demonstrate what it contributes to the plan/ goals of the business.  

Ask Questions

Ask the team member how they are going to approach it, let them decide best way to do it and by listening to their plan you can get a good feel as to how much they have understood the remit. Coach them if required to come up with the optimum plan.  Agree timescales for delivery.

Discuss Potential Roadblocks

The next thing is to understand what if anything might get in the way of them delivering within the agreed timescales. By asking what might get in the way and what they will do if that happens you are getting rid of any excuses that might appear close to the deadline. This also gets your team member thinking about what else they have on and how realistic they are being. It also gives you both an opportunity to discuss priorities if required. 

Obtain Commitment and Ownership

Finally establish a process to keep you up to date as to what is happening. You want to make sure you are not micro – managing. I have found RAG rating to be really effective.
Agree everything starts as a ‘green rating’.
Green – meaning it will be delivered exactly as agreed
Amber – meaning something has come up but your team member has it under control and will still deliver on time
Red – problem identified and deadline in jeopardy. Needs a discussion. Ensure your team member comes to the discussion with a clear idea of the problem and some ideas as to how they might resolve it.
They only need to make you aware of an amber and red.

I would always end my discussion by getting my team member/s to give me a summary of what has been agreed, what the commitments are and confirm that unless a RED indicator has been flagged (in which case we will work together to resolve the issue) the piece of work will be delivered within the agreed timescale. 

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