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
- 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
- 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
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