One of the key phrases that Executives want to see happening is Strategic Delegation. But what is that?
Strategic delegation is a management practice that focuses on the prioritization of managerial tasks vs. employee tasks while providing the right opportunities and time for critical thinking, coaching, and mentoring employees for better growth. I like to say: “Leaders need to stop fighting the daily fires all the time and start learning to become ‘Smokey the Bear.’” This means that when we practice strategic delegation, we are not only looking to solve a quick problem for today, but to also eliminate, reduce, or control the size of the problem in the future.
As a leader, if you are going to become “Smokey the Bear” and strategically delegate meaningful tasks to others, you must identify and answer these three crucial questions:
- What is most important to the organization?
- What are your leaders uniquely able to do better than anyone else?
- Who is available right now and what projects are their highest priorities?
This has become one of the most significant ways that leaders move through projects faster in today’s ever-changing workforce. Leaders can decide what to delegate vs. what to keep for themselves, while building empowerment in the team and breeding autonomy and trust in their capabilities.
Once your system of delegation has been created, you want to ensure the work is getting done, without being considered as a micromanager. Here are the next steps for effective coaching:
- Ensure new team members learn what is expected from them and build their confidence by giving them the opportunity to speak honestly about any confusion they have and openly ask for clarification. Leaders must also spend the time upfront coaching the most significant parts of their job responsibilities and being available to answer questions and concerns.
- Carefully review all the work to be done and make sure it aligns with your company’s vision. Leaders need to be able to ensure that their teams are doing the work that needs to be done. This does not mean looking after every detail of their work but making sure everyone on the team understands the most important goals of the team.
- Make sure your leaders document the responsibilities and the timelines that are occurring. Otherwise, employees could use the opportunity to use the ever-so-dreaded, “I didn’t know when this was due.”
Documentation can be used with:
- Shared calendars
- Gantt charts
- Project coordination programs like Asana and Monday
- Microsoft OneNote
- Excel or Google Spreadsheets
When your leaders give feedback on your employee’s performance, the “Compliment Sandwich” must go in the garbage. For those who may not know, the “Compliment Sandwich” is positive feedback - then constructive feedback - then positive. I had a mentor once say, “If you put moldy meat in between two pieces of delicious bread, no one cares what kind of bread you ate.”
One method I use to give more specific, positive, and growth-based feedback is POP. POP is a method of introducing feedback to your employee by genuinely reviewing a positive aspect your employee is currently demonstrating. One example might sound like “I genuinely love how you laid out your short list of action items before diving into the project. That made a huge difference here!”
Next, deliver the opportunity for growth in a positive tone. Avoid accusing your employee but remain focused on the opportunity that can genuinely grow them as an employee and potential leader. This example could look like, “One opportunity I see that could truly help you move even faster on this is if we incorporated a prioritization of that short list by numbering which are most important and urgent to achieve.”
Finally, ask them for the potential of that opportunistic suggestion, as it shows that their growth is mutually invested by you and them. This one is simple: “What are your thoughts on this?” I normally follow up with “Tell me if I am missing something” because I genuinely want them to tell me about their potential roadblocks in the opportunity.
Strategic leaders are not just solving issues for today; they are creating new opportunities for tomorrow. Ensuring your leaders have the most effective ways to strategically delegate and provide feedback will start to alleviate the pressure that stems from stressful demands.
New Horizons Kingston leadership training gives leaders the skills they need to improve productivity, increase team ownership, and continue open dialog with feedback. Explore our Center for Leadership Development courses and invest in the skills to keep you and your team performing positively.