Power Plays – How Power Flows Part 2

So, you have choices to make when it comes to building power lines. The process of delegation is not complicated, but it is complex. There is the mixture of opinions and attitudes that must be appraised and evaluated. You need to know what needs to be done, the urgency of the task(s), the capacity of the possible delegates to handle the full range of criteria demanded by the task, their levels of competence and confidence, and your level of confidence and tolerance for error.

Once you’re ready to delegate, you have four choices:

  1. Refer the task to the right person.
  2. Whether to delegate the authority to carry out the task and make decisions.
  3. Whether to delegate the task without decision-making authority.
  4. Or whether to keep the task and handle it yourself.

The process of delegating goes like this:

Clearly define the activity

In terms of YOUR vision for the job. It helps here to paint the picture of what the completed task will result in.

In terms of the OBJECTIVES to be reached.

Define the extent of authority. You could say these things:

  1. “Look into the problem, report the facts to me. I’ll decide what to do.”
  2. “Look into the problem. Let me know of the alternatives, include the pros and cons of each and recommend one for my approval.”
  3. “Look into the problem and let me know what you intend to do. Don’t take action until I approve.”
  4. “Look into the problem and let me know what you intend to do. Plan to do it unless I say otherwise.”
  5. “Take action and let me know what you did.”
  6. “Take action, no further contact with me is required.”

Reaffirm trust. Try here to impart confidence and enthusiasm without sounding insincere.

Reveal how you will prepare them to do their job (if you will do anything – you might not need to).

Come to a verbal contract and be certain to get a verbal response.

If you’re on the receiving end of a delegated task, or conversely when you are training your associates and subordinates, these 5 things are necessary:

  1. The knowledge or skill required to handle the task.
  2. An understanding of what is requested.
  3. Belief that it is in one’s best interest.
  4. Belief that it is in the best interest of the organization.
  5. Confidence in the validity of the work.

Once you’ve set about the process of delegating and have selected the person(s) that will receive the responsibility for the job, MUTUALLY establish this:

  1. The key result area(s). This will include, the direction we want to go and an articulated vision for what the department, company, job, facility, or  whatever will be like if the key result is realized. Try to avoid defining tasks. You want to measure results not merely processes. The obvious need to observe safety criteria is implied. But when you define all tasks, and the project fails, the delegate can rightfully claim they “did everything you asked them to do.” If the project succeeds after you have defined each and every task, the delegate has missed out on the opportunity to grow and learn by having to employ skills of evaluation and decision-making. You are in the position of developing capable people which means some reliance on initiative and strength training is best.
  2. How the responsibility will be measured. You should define a way to know if you’re moving in the right direction. Constant performance feedback keeps the power level high. Let me say it again. Constant performance feedback keeps the power level high. If possible, people should manage their own feedback system. You’re trying to give jobs a way, not make more for yourself. Making others responsible for their department or task is the fast track to developing capable people. When someone does something wrong, try to let the measurement system tell them. When someone does something right, you tell them.
  3. Finally, set goals. Define and discuss devices to tell everyone where we are on the way and when we’ve arrived. You’re experienced so you already know that an effective goal must be measureable, attainable, and relevant to the task.

Ok, the power lines are beginning to go up. Next, I’ll discuss responsibility. See you in a few days. If you missed part one of “How Power Flows” you can get it here.

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