We have all read the principles of delegation. I especially like the visual of the manager giving a direct a little rock. Then, once in the direct’s hand, it magically turns into a big rock. It turns out this oversimplified visualization really is the key to successful delegation.
The key is understanding the science behind what it takes to turn a little rock into a big rock. It does not happen just because you tell someone to do something. It does not happen just because you ask someone to do something. It does not happen just because you are the boss.
A direct interprets a task as a big rock when you explain that it is a big rock. The task is integral to accomplishing the departmental objective. You assigned the task to them because you knew their skills would allow them to accomplish it much faster. You assigned the task to them for training so they can improve their skills. Your direct’s relationship with the other department will help. There can be many reasons a task is important.
Why is one of the most powerful words in management. If you have to ask it, someone has not explained things completely. If you lead with why you are assigning a task to a direct, you eliminate the “Who Moved My Cheese?” moment. The employee understands why you assigned the task/project to them, no energy is wasted on complaining “Why does she always give me these assignments?” Energy can then be spent on prepping the direct to complete the task.
Sometimes a task can be delegated without instruction. Many times you have to teach a skill set needed to complete the task. Other times you must review the progress on a daily basis and offer guidance along the way. Follow up is another key to delegation and will be a future post topic.
If you want to turn little rocks into big rocks, explain why, teach, and establish a follow up date.