Thursday, August 6, 2010: When delegating specific assignments or steps in a Project Action Plan you create, it is critical to stay on top of every step and deadline.  “You can’t manage what you can’t track”.  This may seem simple to some managers and executives but there are underlying issues that very often de-rail the timely execution of any assignment.

We have discussed before in our Blogs and Articles how effective communication of delegated assignments is a core competency of effective management.  This includes the manager Visualizing the plan of action, seeing the assignments through the eyes of the employee and effectively delegating the work.

Let’s look at an example of an assignment and then review the details of effectively tracking and managing the execution of the actions.

“Jon, I need you to take on an important assignment as part of our Action Plan to provide managers with a Webinar for training on the XYZ product enhancement.  You assignment is to research the vendor options for the enhancement and provide a report describing the features and benefits of each, a cost comparison by vendor and our pre-tax profit for each.  The team will need this in the next two weeks by Aug. 14th and I would like to see your rough analysis by Aug. 7th.  Do you have any questions?”

Okay.  The manager has described the What-How-When and provided the context of the assignment to the over-all action plan.  If the Manager feels the employee clearly understands the assignment, every thing is good to go, right?  Wrong!  The very successful managers who have a reputation for getting things done through effectively delegating and managing projects knows that giving the assignment is only half the job.  Tracking the project to successful execution is required.

In our example, the manager now has to mark his or her calendar with important follow-up check points.  Here is what would be needed as a minimum for top flight management delegation:

  • Mark the manager’s calendar for two due dates, the draft on Aug. 7th and the deadline of Aug. 14th.
  • Next, the manager makes a note for two “Follow-up” check points, usually 1 -2 days before each due date.  One to check-in on the Aug. 7th Draft by calling/e-mailing or dropping in on the employee.  The second to check on completing the final by the Aug. 14th due date.

When doing these “follow-up checks”, depending on the experience level of the employee, you can make this very low key or with more importance depending on how critical the assignment.

Example 1:  “Jon, how’s everything coming along on the Draft of the Vendor research?  Okay, I will see you to review it tomorrow (time).”

Example 2: ” Jon, is your research to complete the draft of the vendor research on schedule for review with me on the 7th?  The marketing team will be ready for our recommendations for the vendor by Aug. 14th and your assignment is critical to keeping the project moving forward.  Let me know if anything will prevent you from having the draft ready on time or if you need any additional help.”

The important lesson here is for the manager to plan on How & When to follow-up on the progress of a delegated assignment.  The outstanding managers, have every detail laid out and this allows them to stay on top of assignments, progress, problems.  This professional approach leads to creating an environment of urgency and execution. 


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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