Delegate Effectively: One Sure Path Through the Downturn
Layoffs and cutbacks are an agonizing ordeal for all involved, but once they are over, there still are difficulties to overcome.
It falls upon the employees who remain to take on new, and sometimes unfamiliar, duties and responsibilities because the work must continue — even with a reduced staff. And this can bring on added stress and tension.
As an owner or manager, knowing how to effectively delegate can go a long way toward maintaining staff morale and productivity in these challenging times.
As a business coach with clients in the home building industry, I have found that many of the owners and managers that I have coached resist delegating new responsibilities and tasks to their employees — in both good times and bad.
They are reluctant to delegate, quite frankly, because they have been burned, let down and disappointed in the past.
So, rather than delegate, they take on the new tasks themselves. They reason that:
- If you want it done right, do it yourself.
- Nobody cares as much as I do.
- It's quicker to just do it myself.
- Employees never seem to get it right.
- I shouldn't have to tell them. It’s just common sense.
This all-too-common reasoning will not help a company get through the downturn. In fact, it will hinder progress and add even more tension to the workplace.
Owners tend to ruminate over these counterproductive thoughts, bringing on even more sleepless nights. They also begin to hover over their employees and micro-manage their every action — putting even more stress on their employees — and that’s not the way to get a company through the downturn.
Five Strategies on How to Delegate Effectively
The following are five strategies that can help owners and managers effectively delegate through the recession. They can help reduce tension, boost morale and productivity and get the company working together:
- Ask — Don't Tell
Don’t order an employee to take on a new task, respectfully ask the employee to do it. When you delegate, you are collaborating.
I find that the vast majority of employees are delighted to take on additional tasks when they are asked to do so. It gives them greater responsibility, enables them to add value to the company and enhances their sense of self.
- Match the Task to the Position
Be sure the additional task is within the general scope of the job description of the employee assigned to do it.
- Get Progress Reports Once the Tasks Are Underway
Don’t just assign the task to an employee, set up a feedback process that lets you know how the new assignment is progressing. The employee can provide the feedback through a simple e-mail, a consistent check-in or even a checklist.
Whatever method of feedback you choose, it lets you know whether the work is being performed as expected and agreed upon. It also eliminates the need to micro-manage the task.
When creating a feedback process, be sure you get the feedback you need in enough time to take effective action if the employee drops the ball.
- Give Your Staff Members What They Need to Succeed
Make sure your employees have the tools to win. Make it your responsibility to provide employees with the training and resources they need to produce the agreed upon result.
If, for example, they have too much to do and not enough time to complete the new task, help them prioritize their work so they achieve the desired results.
- Delegate in Writing
Add credibility and power to your requests by putting them in writing whenever possible. This creates clarity, minimizes confusion and reduces stress by helping ensure that everyone is on the same page.
Delegating effectively is an important managerial skill, regardless of the economic climate. During a recession, however, it is critical.
Clients of mine who have embraced these strategies attest to their effectiveness and are often surprised at how open and willing their employees are to take on new tasks and go the extra mile for the team.
Dennis DuRoff is a business coach, speaker and author whose clients include builders and remodelers. He also offers a low-cost, turnkey newsletter program that helps builders and remodelers stay in-touch with prospective customers and past clients and help maximize referrals and increase sales. For more information, e-mail DuRoff, call him at 206-722-6067 or visit www.thebuildersnewsletter.com.
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