I was recently on a flight and sat next to newlyweds on their way to their honeymoon. I asked about the wedding, and they were excited to share their joy through a vivid description of the event. Join me…and no need to get dressed up!
Just imagine, you are attending a wedding; the vows have been spoken, dinner has been served, the cake has been cut, and now it’s time for the bride to throw the bouquet. The available women and men stand in line each trying to lobby for a front row spot. Who will be the next to get married and have such an auspicious event? Their dates or partners are retreating to the back of the ballroom, hoping that the their significant other won’t catch the bouquet! The bride goes to the front of the room, turns her back on her friends, and hurls the lovely floral creation over her shoulder. The participants push and shove hoping that they will catch this floral glimmer of hope. One victorious person raises the bouquet as though they are carrying the Olympic torch. The other “hopefuls” congratulate or scatter and that is where the story ends. Do you ever wonder what happened to the person that caught the bouquet? Was she/he the next one in line to get married? Was the “dive and catch” a fleeting memory? Did the bouquet end up in a vase in the kitchen?
You may be asking, “What does this have to do with my business?”
Just imagine, you have 100 things on your plate and no time to accomplish them. There are those items you need to do today (firefighting), and items you would like to accomplish in the next week, month, or year (fire prevention). In a passing conversation, you delegate a task to one of your employees. You may throw it over your shoulder to the next available person, and in a rush you may not be as clear in the steps to complete or the desired outcome. Sound familiar? Like the bouquet and the lucky winner, you may not know how the story ends until much time has passed.
There are assumptions that are typically made in this type of situation. Missteps occur when the leader does not clearly communicate necessary information and time may be wasted.
The delegation discussion between the employee and the leader must include the following:
- Accountability – The responsibility or duty you expect to be achieved. Include specifics, who needs to be involved, etc.;
- Desired Outcome –The results you expect with detailed metrics, do x by y;
- Authority – The ability to direct others and/or make decisions. In other words, what are the boundaries the employee must stay within when completing the duty. An easy method to define authority is to consider, “If the employee does X, I will be UPSET”. The answer helps you detail boundaries for yourself and the employee.
Here are examples of the clear delegation of duties:
- Conduct inventory of the supply room by x date and input information into the y system by x date.
- Call x potential customers by x date and input all client information/updates in the CRM system. If a potential client negotiates and asks for concessions that are outside of our typical parameters, tell them that we will discuss and finalize upon my return.
How do you know when your delegation is clear? Consider the results. If the outcome is as you expected, then you were thorough in your communication, congratulations!
Here is another scenario. Let’s suppose you are planning time away from work for a vacation or attendance at a convention or business meeting. Like the honeymoon, you may leave the business, bid farewell to your employees for the week, partake in activies, and enjoy great food and adult beverages. You may be trying to “get away”, and your team wants to honor your desire. The team may also consider your absence a time to “step up”, and show you what they are capable of.
Remember, even the most seasoned team feels stress when the leader is not readily available.
When you return after your time away, you may face calm seas, a hurricane, or something in-between! That is the measure of clear communication, leadership, teamwork, and succession planning for your business. When you return to outcomes that did not meet your expectations, it is an opportunity to review your direction. Was the direction clear and specific, or did you toss the communication over your shoulder? You must also look at the execution of the duty or responsibility and determine if the employee had the appropriate training to complete the task. This will help to identify how the issues occurred? Acknowledge positive attempts, or the employee may become discouraged and leave you at the “alter”. When all goes according to plan, thank the team for a job well done and CELEBRATE!
For assistance with your employee engagement practices, job descriptions, and human resources, contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org or call 855-447-4111.