Effective Delegation Means Avoiding Common Mistakes

The most successful managers master the techniques and proven methods for effective delegation of tasks and assignments. The manager’s work involves getting projects and assignments done by directing the efforts of their business unit. The key work assignment skills are often ignored or simply glossed over in the stress of daily management. The starting place for improvement is to closely scrutinize the most often repeated mistakes.

Common Delegation Mistake | Clear Communications

Among the most common mistakes is the lack of clear and specific direction. Every well communicated assignment must contain “What” needs to be done, “How” it needs to be done and “By When” it needs to be done. A high percentage of the time, managers will tell me they do all these and their employees will say they miss steps. Feedback from employees such as;

“I didn’t know you needed it by then”, or “I didn’t understand it had to be done that way” demonstrate the communication gap.

It doesn’t matter what the manager thinks they communicated, if the employee gets it wrong, the manager has the primary responsibility. The manager needs to confirm with the employee that all specifications have been understood.

Management Delegation Examples

One of the best ways to assure that the communication is clear and understood is to always employ the “confirmation” exchange. Here is an example: “Jane, it’s important that we get the expectations clear on this assignment. Would you please repeat your understanding?” So simple, but so under-utilized. Managers either assume the message has been understood or don’t see the need for confirmation.

By asking for confirmation it gives the manager a chance to confirm the details and the employee a chance to ask questions. Very often the employee did not understand some aspect of the assignment but are too embarrassed to ask for clarification. The managers request for the employee to repeat the assignment will uncover those hidden issues.

effective delegation

Visual Communications in Effective Delegation

One important area related to the need for clear communications is the lack of “visual communication” when delegating assignments. People receive and process communication both verbally and visually. the Visual aspect is very under-utilized.

When communicating tasks and work assignments, managers will be miles ahead if they can create a picture of what the assignment should look like. The manager might say something like this…”Carl, in creating the training manual, try to incorporate as many pictures as possible of the actual screen-shots of how the software is used.” If the employee can’t see this in their thinking, it will allow them to ask for clarification.

Another common delegation mistake is not asking for the “closing confirmation” with the employee. This is so critical to making crystal clear work assignments. Simply inquire of the employee in this manner. “Jon, is there any aspect of the assignment I have described that would prevent you from completing this in the manner and timetable needed?”

This is a very powerful technique. You are really saying to the employee,,,”speak now or I expect that you know what needs to be done.” This confirms your expectations. It provides the employee a chance to ask for any clarification they may need. While they may be reluctant to show they don’t understand some aspect, they have more pressure to get the job done right and will speak up. people are busy, they are under pressure, there mind may be other places. The manager must close with a request for confirmation.

Responsibility for All Aspects of Effective Delegation are the Managers

The bottom line is simple. The responsibility for effective delegation communication is clearly on the managers shoulders. No manner of excuse or over-sight can eliminate the manager’s key role in making sure everything is understood.

In the end, the responsibility for productivity rests with the manager. If the employee did not get the assignment right, the manager will bare the lions share of the blame. This is of particular importance when the manager is making changes that affect the work unit. Wouldn’t you really rather have clear, crisp and well-executed work assignment? If so, the manager must make clear, crisp and confirmed instructions. These mistakes can easily be avoided with some attention to detail and to effective delegation.

The topic of effective delegation, and how to avoid the common mistakes, provides a clear advantage for managers. You may be interested in learning more at www.plan-delegate-manage.com and “Delegating Through the Lens of the Employee”.  Mike Moore, this websites publisher, leads the Plan-Delegate-Manage organization bringing real world experience and proven skills and tools to managers world wide. A veteran Insurance & Banking executive, Mike brings 40+ years of proven experience in building high performance teams and managers.


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Michael D. Moore is the publisher of Management By Delegation and is a veteran executive with 40+ years in the Banking and Insurance Industries. A devoted entrepreneur, using his business experience to provide resources for managers and leaders at all levels. For the last 5 years, he has built a growing web presence for helping people with personal and professional development. To learn more about these advanced concepts & join our group Click here 5 Must Have Management Skills

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