Pursue What Matters
Episode 211: Drive Better Results with a Better Delegation Process
Please excuse any typos, transcripts are generated by an automated service
Unknown Speaker 0:00
In order to succeed, we need to get delegation, right. But most of us have no clear process for making sure our delegation is effective, and that our teams are able to drive better results.
Unknown Speaker 0:18
Hi, I’m Dr. Melissa Smith. Welcome to the Pursue What Matters podcast where we focus on what it takes to thrive in love and work. So if you’ve been with me the past few weeks, you’ve learned about how a failure to delegate leads to failures in big in three big areas. You’ve also learned three very, very common delegation errors and how to avoid them. We’ve talked about whether there’s a skill issue or a psyche issue. And often there is a psyche issue when it comes to these delegation errors. And then today, I want to wrap up this deep dive into delegation, by providing you a delegation process that can be useful for all sorts of things with your teams is also super helpful at home. So there’s always application at home. So you can use this process for task assignment for decision making for ensuring accountability. And of course, every week with a podcast, my goal is to help you pursue a matters by strengthening your confidence to lead. And I try to do that in one of three areas. So helping you to lead with clarity, which is connecting you to purpose, helping you lead with curiosity, which is increasing your self awareness about how you may be getting in your own way. And then of course, helping you to build and lead a community. And so with our conversation today, it really does hit on all three. But let’s focus specifically on leading and building a community. Having a clear delegation process can be a game changer for a team. And so with that, let’s jump right into our first topic, which is that if you want better results, you must provide a better process. It’s so easy for you know, leaders when they give a task. On the back end, when the task isn’t successful, or it doesn’t look like anything, the leader needed it to look like it’s so easy to blame the team members. And as I have worked with teams, what I have seen is almost always the failure has been in the front end process. The failure has been with a leader not taking the time to actually give clear guidance and direction. And so if team members don’t have what they need to be successful, they’re not going to be successful. And so today, we’re going to talk about a process that helps to provide clarity. It ensures communication, and it drives collaboration. So there we’ve got three C’s for you. And that’s really what we’re looking for with this process. And so I like to call this the communication and collaboration process, right? Because it points out right from the get go. That the purpose of this process is to drive communication and collaboration. I’ll talk a little bit more about this as we as we move forward. But this is not a weapon of micromanagement, right? This isn’t about having people check boxes. But it is being very clear and being very focused on making sure team members are set up for success. And again, that’s one of the concerns I often see is that team members are not set up for success. And so we want to utilize a clear effective process for task assignment, delegation and decision making. So as I talk about this, I’m going to be talking about tasks. So task assignment, but just know, you could put in the word decision, you could put in the word product project, you could put in the word strategy or tactic.
Unknown Speaker 4:21
So this process, you know, doesn’t have to be strictly used for task management, but it’s really looking at, okay, what are the decisions we’re looking at? What are the things that we need to get done? And how are we going to be effective in executing on those so you can use it for a variety of activities in your organization, but for simplicity sake, I will just use the term task as we move forward. And so when we think about this communication and collaboration process, there are five questions that I want you to ask.
Unknown Speaker 4:59
Now I like these simple questions. If you are a listener to the podcast, these, these general questions will sound familiar. So I use this as a frame for a lot of the leadership work I do. And so the questions are what, why, who, when, and how? Now, depending on the application, the second part of each of those questions is very unique or very specific as it is today. But you know, when you have when you’re trying to wrap your head around a process or a problem or challenge at work, these five questions can be so helpful, because they really help you to focus on okay, what are what are the things that we what are the questions we need to be asking, right? Like, these questions help you to focus on your context, and to really help you get the big picture. And so I’m very fond of these questions. Perspective is critical when it comes to effective decision making. And so these questions really help to drive that perspective to make sure that we’re not stuck in a tunnel, right? And that we can take a step back and really see the big picture. And that we’re not just looking at an issue from our own perspective, that’s another thing that happens all the time. And we don’t serve our team, we don’t help them to have the information that they need in their role to be successful. And so let’s start with the first question, which is what? So pretty basic question, what is the task that’s being considered? Or what is the decision that’s being considered? And so it’s pretty straightforward. It’s very simple. You want to identify the proposed task, what is it that needs to get done, right? And you’ll be surprised at how often that that point, which seems very basic, and really quite important, how many times that doesn’t get pinned down. And so team members are floundering right out of the gate? It’s a it’s a real problem. And so take the time to define the task. Right. So what is the task is being considered? That leads us to our second question, which is why? So why does the task matter to mission and values, we always pull in? Why? Because if we don’t have a good compelling reason for why this needs to be done, we probably should not be doing it, or we should probably reconsider. This is where we can really fall victim to the idea fairy, right? Where it’s like, we should do this. And we should do that. And we don’t discipline ourselves to really be very clear about who are we as an organization? Who are we meant to serve? What is our purpose. And so this should happen at every level within the organization, right down to task assignment. And sometimes people feel like, that’s just too much. And it’s, it’s not, because if you don’t tie tasks to purpose, people don’t see the importance of the task, they don’t see how they can contribute, they don’t see how their work contributes. And one of the greatest markers of success at work is seeing how our contribution helps with organizational purpose and mission. So it’s really, really important.
Unknown Speaker 8:24
Okay. So again, the question is, why does the task matter to mission and values, and that’s your role as a team leader, or a leader within the organization is to connect everything that is done within the organization to organizational mission and values. And so if the task does not align with mission, pause or reconsider, right, it that that might require a little more critical thinking on your part, to really determine if this is a task that you need to burden your team with. And so the other thing that I love about this communication and collaboration process, is it not only really helps us write to communicate and collaborate, but it is designed to drive critical thinking.
Unknown Speaker 9:12
Too often we just assign tasks in a pretty impulsive or a reactive way, without fully fleshing that process out and really thinking about, Okay, why, why are we doing this? Is this just a response to a leaders anxiety? Is this something that feels kind of punishing? And so the communication and collaboration process forces leaders to engage critical thinking skills and to get curious about their own process for task assignment first, before we before you lay that at the feet of your team members, and so you can do this process and like I have certainly done this process and there are times where when I go through the process I sat through the process, I ended up not assigning a task, because I recognize like, this is more about managing my anxiety than it is, you know, this is some, this is an activity that really needs to happen for the success of the organization that’s really tied to mission and values. And so it’s a good gut check for team leads that it’s, you know, it’s often like the impulsive, emotional, dysregulated way of doing this is just to like, throw an assignment at people without really getting clear on what’s happening. And whether that’s actually the best solution. Sometimes the best solution is okay, as a team leader, you need to take some time and manage yourself and engage some emotional regulation skills, always and forever, we need to be doing that. So that is our second question why?
Unknown Speaker 10:53
Now let’s move to the third question, which is who? Okay, so who will own the task? Now, this also seems like a simple question. And sometimes it is, but not always. And I’m gonna say a little bit more about this, as we move on with the podcast. But you know, the person who owns the task might not be the person who totally executes on the task. So we’ll talk more about that in a minute. But we’ll own the task, who ultimately has responsibility. And some additional questions to ask here. So we’ve got three key questions here, who will own the task? Second, who will be required for successful completion of the task, sometimes it’s a one person, job, sometimes it requires coordination of, you know, multiple departments across the organization, you need to pin that down, so that you have a realistic scope of the work. And then the third question is, who does the task benefit? Right? This is really, really important, does it benefit our team? So maybe it facilitates the work of a specific leader in another department, right? Like, I really need these numbers so that I can do accurate forecasting, that would be a, that’d be a very fine purpose. So we want to ask who does the task benefit? So sometimes it’s the team. Sometimes it’s your audience, or your fans or your clients or your customers? So think in terms of your stakeholders? Who do you serve? Sometimes, right? If I think about my organization, our organization, sometimes we do something, because it benefits another team member, right, it facilitates their work, sometimes it’s to help serve our clients to make things a little bit easier for them a little more streamlined. Sometimes it’s our professional referral network, right, that we communicate effectively with them. So we’ll develop processes to really make sure that we’re engaging with them proactively and professionally. And so with the who, we’ve got actually three questions who will own the task, who will be required for successful completion? And who does the task benefit? And then that takes us to our fourth question, which is when so when must the task be completed? And again, this can, this isn’t always straightforward, right. But this question of when must the task be completed? I think a real good follow up question to that is why right? Are these artificial deadlines? Or do we have a really hard deadline. And if you have a really hard deadline, you might consider putting in a soft deadline ahead of that. So if it’s like, you know what, we’re gonna have government regulators breathing down our neck, if we don’t get this done by the first that I would say you should probably move that deadline up, so that you have time to, you know, work out any of the kinks before that hard deadline. So when we when we think about when we want to be very specific about not only deadlines, but also timelines.
Unknown Speaker 14:00
So what are the markers for success? And so that we’re ensuring that the that the project or the task is staying on track? That’s a really important part of both when, and how, and then of course, consider maybe a soft deadline and a hard deadline, and that those are two different deadlines, depending on the size and the scope of the task. And then that brings us to our fifth question, which is how so how will the task be completed? So we want to identify the process for successful completion, we want to identify the markers of success. And we want to implement ongoing checkpoints as indicated. Now I’m going to say more about the how, because, because who, who’s in charge of the house really makes a difference. And so what I would say here, though, is the leader can be very helpful for identifying the markers of success of this process, right, and to implement the checkpoints, so some structure for support and accountability, that’s something that’s really good for a leader to outline at the outset. But just know that when it comes to how it’s very, very collaborative, and a lot of that ownership for answering those questions, goes to the who goes to whoever that that task is assigned to. And I will talk more about that as we get to another point. But for now, right? This is a communication and collaboration process to really help us with effective delegation and decision making. And with it, we have five questions. So what why, who, when and how. So that leads us to our second point, which was our guidelines for using the C and C process. So this communication and collaboration process, so the first thing to be really clear about is that this process is not always necessary, right, depending on the size of the task.
Unknown Speaker 16:12
You know, this kind of process might be overkill, right? So if it’s just a simple task, have a conversation, you know, make sure that the, the the person receiving the task is empowered to ask questions and to clarify concerns. But I think when it comes to, you know, some guidelines, some a thought process to help you for, you know, when to use this CNC process, I want you to consider at what level within the organization, does this sort of tool makes sense? Okay, because, right, like, if I think about tasks within our integration team, which is really our administrative team, you know, like, that, we sometimes will need this process if there’s multiple people involved. But if it’s a simple task that doesn’t impact other components of the organization, we have more of a simplified conversation. Now, we still hit all of these points. But you, you know, this could be a pretty informal process, meaning a conversation, where we’re hitting all these points, or it could be a more formalized process, where there’s actually a document a living document that is used as a guide. And so it really depends on how big the project is. And you know, how it spider webs throughout the organization. And I’ll say a little bit more about that. The other guideline is to be clear about your intention when using this process. So this isn’t a hoop for team members to jump through, right? Like we’re not just trying to give them more work. It’s also not a tool or a weapon of micromanagement, right? Like I need to see everything that you’re doing at every minute. No, that’s not the intent. So when you start this process, as a leader, you need to be really clear about your intention, that this is a process designed to drive three things. It’s designed to drive clarity, right, so people understand the task and why it matters, is designed to drive communication, so that we can address concerns make sure that there’s clear communication about what’s expected. And it’s a process to drive collaboration. So that, you know, task assignment is never just a one way street, it should always be bi directional, so that the people that are tasked with the, with the with the task, right, are able to check out their questions bring in their perspective, because as the one assigning the task, don’t make the mistake of believing you have the full picture you don’t. And that becomes even more true as an organization grows. And so leading with your intention, this is a process designed to drive clarity, communication and collaboration. So it is also meant as an antidote to a very common problem. And I talked about this at the beginning, which is leaders who fail to delegate effectively. So what I often see is that leaders just they just don’t take the time to clearly explain what they need to happen and to get buy in that buy in that collaboration is so important. They also assume that team members can read their minds. I’ve been so guilty of this, that like oh, they should just know. And they don’t and that’s that’s like very disrespectful to your team members. And it sets up, you know, frustration and resentment if you’re not careful. They also so leaders also don’t consider the perspectives, or the other commitments of team members when they’re delegating. So when we use delegation as a one way street, we really, you know, it’s a disservice to our team members, because we were signifying a lack of respect for the other commitments that they have. And so we really want to open up that communication and collaboration. And then leaders also don’t always fully understand what will be required for successful execution, right? Like, you don’t know all the details of another person’s work. And so when you’re delegating something, don’t make the assumption that you have a total understanding about what will be required for successful execution. This is the power of teams, this is why we work on teams, because people have distinct roles and responsibilities, they have a unique perspective by virtue of their role and their responsibilities. And when we can delegate effectively, this is where we get much better outcome, because we empower team members to shine in their area of expertise.
Unknown Speaker 21:16
So lead with your good intention about like this is in service to the team members, this is in service to the success of the organization, you’re wanting to avoid frustration, misunderstandings, hidden expectations. And so another guideline is, you know, to, you could use the communication and collaboration process. Anytime, this, these three things, these three factors are in place. So anytime cross Department involvement is indicated, right, because it’s just, it’s a little more complex, it’s going to require a little more coordination. Anytime budget requests for the task is above and beyond an ordinary department budget. So if we decide we want to do something, but we don’t have the budget for it, or it would, you know, it would require additional funds, that would be that would be a trigger for using this process. Because it’s above and beyond what we’re planning for, right with our business budgeting and financing. And then the third time to really consider using this will be when the when the schedule or the strategic priorities of the organization will be impacted. Because, right, like we identify strategic priorities, and so if we are looking at doing something that really disrupts that cycle, we need to be really critical about that. Thinking about that, and making sure that that makes sense, and that we have buy in about that. We don’t want to do that just haphazardly. And so there are some guidelines for using the communication and collaboration process the C and C process. And so now I just want to finish with the third point, which is that we want to help ensure a strong accountability chain. So I talked a little bit about this in the last podcast. But I think it’s really important as we think about who, and we think about how right, so some of those important questions that we look at as part of this process. And so when we think about assigning that task, ownership, right, I’ve already mentioned that many leaders fail right out of the gate, because they fail to clearly assign task ownership. We don’t want that to happen to you. But it also right, this doesn’t mean that the task owner is the only one executing on a task. But ultimately, they own it. And so if you remember, we had three questions when it came to the who, so who owns the task, right? So that is really the hooks of responsibility. And then who who will be required for successful execution, right. And this might require several team members across the organization, right across departments. And so you want to really clarify that and make sure that that is that the important stakeholders are involved.
Unknown Speaker 24:20
So when we think about the task owner, it doesn’t mean that they’re, they’re the only one executing on a task, but they own it. So they ultimately carry responsibility for the success or the failure of the task. So the saying a little bit more about, you know, when assigning task ownership, one of the first questions we need to look at is, does the individual have the authority to make the necessary decisions? If they don’t, you either need to give them authority or reconsider who owns the task. Another good question to ask is, you know, is there an existing team member who already has authority and accountability
Unknown Speaker 25:00
For this domain, right, it could be a new task. But where does it make the most sense, like where in the accountability of the organization with this task naturally or logically reside. And that’s not always clear sometimes that’s, you know, some of the problem solving and critical thinking as a leader that you need to pay attention to. And then the other thing is like, that drives good, good communication. So I will often have a task and and, you know, in my mind, it kind of bridges a couple of roles. And so we’ll just have a conversation about that and ask, like, where does it make the most sense for this task to reside? And if you’re a newer organization, or you’re a smaller organization that’s growing? That’s a really important question, because you often have people in multifunctional roles. And so you know, really thinking about what makes the most sense for this specific task. And so if you have an existing team member who already has authority and accountability, then go ahead and delegate to that team member, and then let that team member decide if further delegation is needed. So right, you might give that to a department head, and then that person owns it. And they can decide how and if to delegate within their department. And a second component of that, and this is so important when we think about delegation is providing the what not the how. So when you’re assigning a task, it’s really important to identify what the task is and why it matters. But to really stay out of the how, right, like you’re not dictating how the team members are going to be successful, because you’re delegating, you’re giving them trust to do that. And this really, for many leaders, it is the need to challenge that tendency to control. And you know, what it looks like is we tend to manage how everything gets done. That’s not a good use of your time. And it is very disempowering to team members. So instead, we want to empower our team members by providing clear direction on what, and then giving them the autonomy to figure out the how to figure out how things get done. And so when you implement the CNC process, this is where you know, at task assignment, you’re talking a lot about what needs to be done, and might talk a little bit about how it needs to be done. But really, that’s more as a consultant to whoever owns the task. So again, I mentioned you might set up markers, or a process for checkpoints of supporting the individual or the team on the task completion, but you’re not dictating how they work, or how the task is executed on.
Unknown Speaker 27:52
You know, there are times where you might have very specific regulations that you have to pay attention to, as part of the how that would be important to talk about. So feel free to talk about that. But as much as possible. We want to empower team members to have the autonomy to to execute on the task and within their authority and accountability. And so you can consult together on how, right like the how of task completion, especially if it’s a new test task. And specific details really matter. But still, as a leader with task assignment, you’re in a consultant role at that point. And I think that’s a good way to kind of stay in your lane.
Unknown Speaker 28:42
So there you have it. Today, we’ve talked about using a better process for better results, right. So we’re really thinking about delegation and decision making and task assignment. And so we talked about five questions as part of the process to really help you with that. So head on over to my website to check out the show notes with the resources for this episode at www.drmelissasmith.com/211-betterdelegationprocess. And again, if you haven’t checked out the resource, or the recent episodes on delegation for sure, go back and listen to those they can be super helpful for setting you up for this conversation. And then I would love to invite you to join me on Instagram @dr.melissasmith, I always have a lot of great detail about these topics. And I would love to hear your questions, your thoughts, your perspective, what do you find? That works really well for you? And then of course, if you don’t mind giving us a review on Spotify or Apple that’s always super helpful for me. I’m Dr. Melissa Smith. Remember love and work, work and love, that’s all there is. Until next time take good care
Transcribed by https://otter.ai