Question: As the newly promoted manager of a small team, how can I delegate effectively? I need to ensure they are meeting critical deliverables without seeming like I am micromanaging them.
Jo Miller answers:
I recently met with a manager who is transitioning into a new role (fantastic!) and is training her replacement.
We were discussing the difficulties of handing over her work to the new hire, so just for fun I role played how delegation usually works:
DELEGATE: Give the new hire a task.
PROD: Follow up a few days later and ask, “Did you get it done?” (accompanied by a wild finger-jabbing gesture).
Wake up to the fact that you’ve just become your worst nightmare: A MICROMANAGER.
After my demonstration, the manager burst out laughing and asked if I had been reading her mind.
The TASK->PROD style of delegating makes you guilty of “helicopter management,” hovering over someone, sending them the message that you don’t trust them to take ownership of their work. Or, if your style tends more toward conflict avoidance, you are left to guess at whether they will complete the task, and hope that a few passive-aggressive glances will guilt them into producing the goods.
Is there a better way? Well, yes! In a nutshell, the model for effective delegating goes like this:
Describe the overall vision or objective. And check for their buy-in.
Co-create clear expectations. Instead of telling them what needs to be done, ask what they would need to do, and fill in gaps as necessary to collaboratively create a set of action items.
Co-create accountability. This is the part most managers leave out, leading directly down the path to micromanagement. Co-creating accountability means asking them how they want to be accountable. For example, ask, “How shall we check in?” Now as their leader, you must track accountabilities to provide a model for taking these important commitments seriously.
Positively challenge them to deliver a high standard of excellence. Remind your team that they are smart, talented, and that you challenge them to deliver a high standard of excellence. Dare them to go for it!
Give frequent feedback. Provide frequent feedback on where people are doing well and re-direct them immediately if things go off course.
Celebrate their success! Now the most important step: acknowledge their success.
If you have caught yourself behaving a bit like a micromanager recently, your assignment is to review the six steps above and identify which one you need to do more of.
Jo Miller is CEO of Women’s Leadership Coaching Inc. Through leadership workshops, coaching programs and webinars, Jo helps women create their roadmap into leadership positions in business.