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September 2006 - Motivating Others: Delegate Responsibly

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John Kline, PhD, inspirational and motivational keynote and after-dinner speaker and corporate trainer.

September 2006

Motivating Others: Delegate Responsibly

Previous columns presented three steps to motivating others: inspire confidence, demonstrate enthusiasm and ask the question WIIFO?—or What’s In It For Others? The fourth step is to delegate responsibly. Here are nine things to consider when delegating tasks to others.

  • Select the right person for the task. Overly simple tasks don’t adequately challenge or motivate people. Overly difficult tasks are de-motivating since the person tasked can’t succeed. Take time to match the task and the person.
  • Make the objective clear. Make certain the person you delegate to do the task understands what you want. Failure to do the task appropriately or successfully is often traced to failure to understand what was expected.
  • Agree on standards of performance. In addition to agreeing on the objective, both parties should agree on how well the job needs to be done. What level of excellence is required?
  • Delegate “what,” not necessarily “how.” In other words, resist the urge to meddle. Micromanagement interferes with the person doing the task and communicates distrust.
  • Assign needed authority and support. Delegating a task without providing needed authority and support will almost always result in a poor product. Decide together what level of support and authority is needed, and then give it.
  • Help the person feel responsibility for the task, and then make yourself available. Availability will not only help the person responsible for the task; it will communicate the task is important.
  • Give honest feedback. Give both feedback that is positive and feedback that points out weaknesses in the effort while expressing confidence in the person.
  • Recognize good work. The old saying, “Criticize in private; praise in public” applies. Not only will you motivate the person being recognized, but praise sends a message to others that you appreciate good work.
  • Delegate critical tasks very carefully. If a task is critical to the well-being of the organization, assign it to the best people, or do it yourself.

Delegation can be a motivator if done right, a de-motivator if done wrong. Do it right! Next month we’ll look at the fifth step in motivating others.

John Kline
Montgomery, Alabama

September 2006 - Motivating Others: Delegate Responsibly
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