Empowering and Delegating
April 28, 2021 / 58:10:00
Emmet Ore All right, hello, everyone. Welcome to the last segment of our April webinar series, we’re going to go ahead and get started.
My name is Emmet. I’m a marketing specialist over here at Vensure and I will be your host for the next hour.
Today, our panelist Robin Paggi will be talking about empowering and delegating. As usual, there will be a Q&A session at the end. We’ll do our best to answer all the questions you have for Robin. But if we run out of time, we will respond to them individually. And just a reminder, this is being recorded and we’ll share that recording with all of you, along with the slide deck when we’re done here.
This webinar is brought to you, as always, by VensureHR. Vensure is the leader of 20-plus partners with clients in all 50 states.
Alrighty, so today’s agenda includes the meaning of empowerment, some skills and resources, authority and opportunity, motivation and accountability, and lastly, delegating. And as usual, we’ll have our Q&A session. So if you have a topic that you hear about, that you need a little more clarity on, feel free to submit a follow-up in the Q&A box. And, so when you logged in, you should have seen a control panel open. There’s a drop-down section in there for questions. Just type your questions and comments into that section and hit enter. And if you are a client, please put “client” in your ques-tions so we can track that. All questions are private, so you won’t see the questions or comments of others, and we’ll try to get to all the questions in the time that we have. But if we don’t, please contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
And we are thrilled today to have Robin Paggi joining us as our panelist. She is a seasoned human resource practitioner specializing in training on topics such as harassment prevention, communication, team building, and supervi-sory skills. With that, I will hand it over to Robin.
Robin Paggi Thanks, Emmet. Before we move on, just imagine for a moment: You’re a supervisor and you arrive to work with your day planned. As soon as you begin working, an employee walks into your office with a problem. So you stop your work to help the employee. Then you return to your work when another employee calls you with a problem. You stop your work to help the employee. Then you return to your work when another employee arrives with a problem, and so on and so on. This kind of situation is what happens when employees are not empowered. Now, imagine this: You’re a supervisor and you arrive to work with your day planned. After working your plan, your employees tell you about the problems they encountered that day and how they solved them. This situation is what happens when employees are empowered. Now, if you’re a supervisor, I’m sure you would like to go from the first situation to the second situation. And today I’m going to tell you how to do it. First, let’s look at the meaning of empowerment.
According to the business dictionary, empowerment is a management practice of sharing information, rewards, and power so employees can take initiative, make decisions, solve their own problems, all the while improving service and their performance. And an added bonus, they do this and they don’t bother you all the time. So empowerment is based on the idea of giving employees these things that are listed here: the skills, resources, authority, opportunity, moti-vation, and holding them accountable because that’s a big part of empowerment as well. So we’re going to look at each one of these things, break them down, and see specifically what you can do to empower your employees. Next slide.
First we’re looking at skills and resources. Now skills is the ability to do something well. And the single most important thing a manager can do to empower other people is to help them experience personal mastery. Now how can you help your employees develop their skills? And this seems like a no-brainer to me, but I’m a trainer; that’s all I’ve been doing for the past 25 years. And so training is the answer to a lot of things for me, but especially in helping people devel-op their skills, they need to be trained. And so, you’ve got professional training and so they have workshops that they can go to, online training that they can develop, one-on-one coaching, mentoring programs; we’ve discussed some of these things in the past. Also, cross-departmental training so that they learn how to do things in other departments, which builds their skill, but also is a nice thing for you in case somebody is missing that day. Developing their soft skills. And so, this is one of the things that, employees a lot of times they receive the technical training that they need, but they do not develop the soft skills that they need. So this is the communication skills that we’ve talked about, the interpersonal skills–those are what are considered to be soft skills.
Now I want to stop here and I want to tell you about a guy named Tony. And, Tony was a real guy, and he was put into a supervisory position with no training. That frequently happens. I spend most of my time training supervi-sors for employers and often people are promoted into supervisory positions because they’re really technically skilled. But, being a good supervisor requires different skills. And a lot of employers don’t know that. They think if you do your job really well, then you’ll be able to teach other people how to do the job really well and supervise them. And that’s just not the case. So back to Tony, put into a supervisory position with no training. He was repeatedly reprimanded for being a bad supervisor, even though he received no training. He was put on a last-chance performance improvement plan, which included working with me, which at first Tony saw as a punishment. So the company provided Tony with the coaching he needed after he was failing in the position that they put him in. That is not empowerment. That’s a way for your employees to decide that they’re going to go get another job, but he didn’t. I got to work with him for a little while and I’ll tell you a little bit more about that.
The resources they need. Empowering is also providing the resources that employees need. And so, mate-rials, staff, other assets that can be drawn on by the person so that they can do the job that they’re supposed to do and supervise other people doing that. So supervisors must be resource providers and obstacle eliminators to help others accomplish their objectives and do what they need to do.
Now, let’s go back to Tony. And you already know his sad story, don’t you? The company equipment that Tony used was old and frequently broke down. So he’s supposed to meet these performance goals that were set for him. He didn’t get to choose which goals he needed to get or have any input on it. And so, his employer told him, these are the goals we need you to meet, and here is the equipment to do it, and it frequently broke down. So how was he supposed to achieve those goals? Additionally, at this workplace, and this was a mining company, employees were supposed to provide their own tools in addition to the equipment that they were provided, and some of them didn’t have their tools, so then they needed to share tools, which slowed things down. So, again, Tony was not given the resources that he needed; he was not empowered to do his job.
So I want you to think for a second: Do your employees have the skills they need to be able to perform? Do they have the resources that they need in order to perform? And if the answer is no, what can you do to rectify the sit-uation? You’ve got some items listed here. Hopefully, you’ll be able to choose something from here that will help you to address those issues. All right. Let’s go on to our next slide.
Empowered employees have authority, which is the right or the power to give orders, to make decisions, and to enforce obedience. Now, that’s just what the definition is. I don’t particularly care for the phrase “enforce obedience,” but it is what it is. And then also given opportunity to grow and develop. So let’s go on and we’ll break this down.
Now I like to look at people who’ve been there, done that, and a lot of times wrote the book about it, and then I find out what did they do in order to be successful? And I think that you would agree with me that Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos could be considered to be successful because he has more money than anyone else in the world, if that’s how you’re measuring success. But he couldn’t have gotten to the position he’s in by making every single decision that needs to be made at Amazon on a daily basis. So, Bezos said that he believes there are two types of decisions. He can’t be mak-ing all of them and so he broke them down into two. The first kind of decisions are those that are irreversible. If you make this decision and it’s a wrong decision, then it’s going to harm the organization and there’s nothing that we can do about it. So that’s type one decision. Now, do you think that Bezos is going to allow just anyone to make type one decisions? No, he is not. Those are the ones that he is going to be involved in or his top executives are going to be involved in.
But then there’s a second type of decision. And Bezos says that this is the type two decision, and those are ones that you can have lower-level staff make. These are decisions that if they make the wrong decision, it’s not detrimen-tal to the organization, it’s not irreversible, it can be fixed. So, these kind of decisions, you want to push down as much as you can to other people. Why? Because it helps them feel empowered.
Now, Bezos says that as organizations get larger, there is a tendency to use this heavyweight type one decision-making process on most decisions. And one of the reasons for that is that people are afraid to release this decision making to other people. And so, the best leaders, according to Bezos, know the difference between the type of decisions, and they make the ones that they need to make, but then they let other people make the ones that they can make. And that helps to empower them because people feel good when they have this decision-making authority.
Now, I have seen leaders that hoard decision making and they try to give the decision making away, and then they just can’t do it. They can’t let it go. And sometimes those leaders are egocentric and they think they’re the only ones who can make the right decisions, or they are actually scared and afraid to let people have any kind of power because they’re afraid that then they’ll give their power away. Whatever the issue is, if you are in a position where you can allow oth-er people to make decisions, then that is something that you should look at. Because when people don’t get to make any decisions that concern them, they feel undervalued and underdeveloped, because decision making is one of the ways that people develop their leadership skills. And if you want to help employees grow and develop, especially into leaders, then that’s a great way for them to do it.
So authority over making decisions, how can you help people do that? Well first we have listed support their decisions. And I want to tell you a quick little story that I really felt this support of a decision that I had made, even though in retrospect I made the wrong decision, but I felt the support and it was a game-changer for me. So when I was growing up, my dad had a bait and tackle shop here where I live in California. And when I was 15, the summer I was 15, I worked there. And, one day a customer came in and he wanted a product for free. And he said that the product was damaged goods and that my dad always gave him the product. Well, I was running the ship by myself that day, and my dad’s name is Bob. And he said, “Well, Bob always gives me these things.” And I said, “Well, Bob’s not here.” And just then my dad walked in the door and I thought, oh, me, oh, my. I’ve got some public humiliation moments away from me. And, so I just figured that my dad would be upset that I made that decision. If he always allowed this guy to have this product, I was afraid I was going to get embarrassed in front of them, all of that kind of stuff. And so the guy, the customer said to my dad, “Hey, Bob, is this your daughter?” and my dad said, “Yeah.” And he said, “Well, she won’t give me this product like you always do.” And so I waited for it. And my dad said, “Well, if that’s what she said, then that’s the way it is.” And that was a game-changer for me in my relationship with my father and in my self-confidence. Now, in retrospect, chances are that was not the best decision to make. But, that’s what I mean by supporting their decisions, even when your employees make the wrong decision, if you support them, and that’s not to say that the decision doesn’t need to be reversed, it’s just that you are supporting their initiative and whatever they’re doing, and that you’re not humiliating them or taking that deci-sion-making authority away from them.
Also micromanage. It is difficult for some people to not check every single thing that employees do, and want employees to run everything past them before they do something, and that type of thing. So, people have different defini-tions of the word micromanage, but basically, it’s not allowing employees to have any kind of authority or decision making by themselves. And so, that’s one of the ways to make sure that they are underdeveloped and will never learn how to make decisions by themselves.
So then the other thing is opportunity. Employees are empowered when you give them opportunities. And opportunities are a set of circumstances that makes it possible to do things. So, Larry Page is one of the founders of Google. Again, a very successful company. And he said, “My job as a leader is to make sure that everybody in the com-pany has great opportunities and they feel they are having meaningful impact to the good of society.” Well that sounds like a pretty good boss to me. Now, a tool in this is to help employees with their career path, and the specific tool is a career development plan. And this is a written list of short-term and long-term goals that employees have to get to where they want to go. And, of course, their goals need to be in alignment with the organization’s goals. They don’t just get to have whatever goals they want to, but they are talked about with their managers or their supervisors to help ensure that they are good goals, they are development goals, they are in alignment with the organization’s goals. So ultimately the purpose of a career development plan is to assist employees in achieving their goals. But in doing so, the organization achieves its goals too. Also, the organization will probably retain employees when managers and supervisors act interested in the goals that employees want in the career path that they want, that they are helping them achieve those types of things, and mentoring them in their professional development.
So the career development plan is not a contract, and that’s an important thing. It is a plan, and it is one that will benefit the organization. But there’s no promises with anything in writing, even if it’s written down, and people sign it, and such. It’s not a contract and there are no promises such as promotions at a certain time, etc. It’s just laying out a path that helps employees have some milestones in place, some goals in place, a timeline in place to help them feel like they are progressing where they want to go.
And then involvement also is an important way to provide opportunity. So involvement in decision making is what we had talked about. But, involvement in making sure that the organization is hitting its business metrics, it’s solving organizational issues. Employees are asked to use their expertise, provide some ideas to contribute in whatever way they can to the growth of the organization, which contributes to the growth of the employee. So here are some specific exam-ples that you can involve employees in.
Continuous improvement teams. So a team of people that continuously meet in order to see how the orga-nization and its processes can continually improve. Quality control circles. Labor management, problem-solving efforts. Employee problem-solving task force and teams. Structured-suggestion systems. And so, I had a situation like this when I was HR manager of a law firm. We wanted to recognize employees in ways that were meaningful to them. And so I got a, I asked for volunteers. People volunteered their time and I solicited their input about how people would feel meaning-fully recognized. And, they helped implement the program. And it turned out to be a really good experience for everyone involved. I got to know them a little bit better. They got to know me a little bit better. And we did some meaningful work, which made everybody feel good and made the organization better. So that’s an example of that.
Now, before we move off the slide, I gotta return to poor Tony. And when we’re talking about authority, you guessed it, Tony didn’t have any. He had responsibility, but no authority. And this is what ended up happening. He fired an employee, but HR interfered and brought the employee back and told Tony, don’t fire any more employees without running it past us. All right, well, that might be a good thing. So he demoted an employee, but then his manager interfered and said, no, he could not demote that employee. And so before too much longer, he was told HR and his manager needed to approve every single decision he made regarding every single one of the employees he supervised. Is that empowerment? No.
Now, chances are Tony made some bad decisions when it came to firing and demoting. But again, he received no training. And so here he is, he’s given authority to be a supervisor, and then he has all of his authority taken back, and then he’s given training. So, not so good.
As far as opportunity is concerned, Tony was not involved in hiring the people he supervised. He was not invited to meetings that affected his work. He was not asked his opinion on how to improve things or on the production goals that were set for him. And so, you can understand why my first meeting with Tony, he was pretty miserable and up-set that he was being given a last chance to perform and had to work with me. And then finally he received the training that he needed. So, let’s not do that. But do go on to the next slide, please.
We talked about motivation last week, we’re going to talk about it a little bit again, and especially how hold-ing people accountable is a way to motivate and empower them. So let’s move on. So, motivation is the reason or reasons people have for acting or behaving in a particular way. And what’s interesting, to me anyway, is that sometimes people don’t even know why they’re motivated to do what they do. And so, it’s even more difficult for supervisors to try to figure out how to motivate people.
But Lee Iacocca, who was the chairman of Chrysler and turned it around, said, “Management is nothing more than motivating other people.” However, I told you last week that NBA coach Phil Jackson said, “You really can’t motivate people. All you can do is creating a motivating environment.” OK, well, I’ll let those two decide whether you can motivate people or not. But, we talked about some of these things before. But again, how to specifically motivate people and then hold them accountable, setting clear expectations. And I’ve talked about how difficult it is to set clear expecta-tions because what is a clear expectation for us is not necessarily a clear expectation for someone else. And so just telling people what you expect of them usually is not the way that they know how to meet your expectations. So we have some tools available and hopefully you have these tools in your workplace.
Job descriptions certainly helps. Job aids, and so these are just quick, little easy visuals, usually have a step-by-step process, or when I worked in a restaurant, our job aid was this is what the food should look like on the plate before you take it out. And so, we knew where the parsley went and all of that kind of stuff. So visual job aids to help people understand the results that they’re expected to achieve. Standard operating procedures that are written out that every- body understands and they understand why they have them. Employee handbooks. And employee handbooks are really underutilized. A lot of times employers have them and then they hire somebody, they give an employee handbook, they have them sign the acknowledgment form, and then the employee never looks at the handbook ever again. And so, that’s not a good use of your employee handbook. So, they are good to have and they are good to use, so that you’re telling people what’s in them on a monthly basis, or a biweekly basis, or whatever it is, going over each item so employees know what their responsibilities are, but also what their rights are, because employers are required to provide that information as well. And then SMART goals. And we talked about specific, measurable, attainable, relevant, and timely goals that clearly spell out what employees need. So these are some of the tools that you can do to provide clear expectations.
Now, why are clear expectations motivational? Because employees know what they’re supposed to do, and if they do something and it’s not right, but it wasn’t clear what they were supposed to do, that’s demotivational, especially if they get dinged for it. And so, when they don’t know exactly what they’re supposed to do and they try and then they get dinged for not doing it correctly, but they didn’t know exactly, that’s very demotivational and unempowering.
Providing regular feedback. We talked about that before. And again, one of the things when employees are new, especially when they’re young, they need a lot of feedback to know whether they’re doing the job correctly or whether or not.
They need praise. Everybody needs their pat on the back and recognition. And again, depending upon the employee’s preference. Some employees feel empowered and motivated when they are recognized in public. Other employees do not like public recognition. So that’s one of the things, it’s very important in order to motivate employees to know who your employees are.
Listen actively and deeply. And that’s one of the things people are not really good listeners anymore. We’ve got too much stuff going on. We’ve got too many distractions going on and we think we can multitask. And so we think that we can read an email or send a text while we’re listening to somebody and we just can’t. And so I will tell you that when it feels like someone is really listening to you and they are giving you the nod and the nonverbal affirmation that they hear you, and then they can even repeat basically back to you what you’ve just said, when that happens, when we feel listened to, it sends endorphins off in our body. Endorphins are our happy drug. We feel happy with people when they feel like they’re, when we think they’re really listening to us. And I know this for a fact because I’m usually in front of people, not on a computer training them. And, when people are really paying attention to me, really engaged, I am just happier, can be higher than a kite. But when people are not making eye contact, when they’re on their phones, when they look disengaged, all of that, then that just motivates me to wrap things up as quickly as I can and get out of there. So listening actively and deeply, so that you could actually repeat back to somebody what they just said to you takes a lot of work, but it is worth it, especially if you’re in a supervisory position.
So, what else? Leading by example, I think is the number one leadership principle. And I have seen this so many times, when people in positions of authority do not do what they’re telling everybody else to do. This happens to me a lot of times when I’m training, as I’m training supervisors, for the most part, telling them how to be good supervisors, and then they wonder, why aren’t our supervisors good supervisors? Why aren’t they going through this training? Why aren’t they learning these things that you’re teaching us to do or teaching us not to do? And I don’t have a good answer for them on that one. But, that’s one of the things, is do as I say, not as I do, is not a good leadership principle, and it’s not good for parenting either. You don’t want to tell your kids not to smoke while you’ve got a cigarette dangling out of your mouth. It doesn’t get the message across. So when you do what you want other people to do, they are more motivated to do it. And when you do exactly what you tell people not to do, they are demotivated and do not feel empowered.
And then following through with people. And that’s one of the things that I’ve seen sometimes is that you’ll have a supervisor tell somebody, “I need you to do this. I need this on my desk by 5:00 p.m.” and then the supervisor never looks at it. And so, the employee is working, working, working to get everything done that the supervisor wants to have done, and then the supervisor never looks at it. Very demotivating. And so that’s the follow-through.
Or, say that you resolve the conflict between an employee and someone else. You want to get back and follow through with the employee to make sure that everything’s still resolved and taken care of. And so follow-through is a very important part of motivating employees as well.
Now, let’s go back to poor Tony. Where Tony worked, and I emphasize past tense because he quit after a while, but where he worked, there were no job descriptions or standard operating procedures. Performance appraisals weren’t done. There was no reward or recognition program. Communication was top-down. The management did not solicit input from the people who were actually doing the job. And there was no follow-through. And so, that’s one of the reasons that Tony ended up leaving after a while, is because it was just too much. They were expecting too much from him and not giving him what he needed in order to be able to perform.
Now, before we move on, let’s talk about accountability. Accountability of a person, organization, or institu-tion required or expected to justify actions or decisions. So, that’s the dictionary definition. And holding people account-able is meaning that when they’re responsible for something, they need to do it, and if they don’t do it, there are conse-quences to that.
Now, how does that empower somebody to hold them accountable, and if they don’t do something, that there are consequences to them not doing it? Well, let me tell you in this way, Ken Blanchard in the 1980s and 1990s was this big business guru, and everybody bought his book and he was the guy who told everybody what to do. He said, “Peo-ple who produce good results feel good about themselves.” And I think you could probably agree with that. When we do something and we do it well, we feel really good, and then that motivates us to do even more.
Now, the former CEO of Verizon Wireless is named Denny Strigl, and he said, “The core belief that good re-sults make happy employees helped me as president chief executive officer, transform Verizon from a regional carrier and to a multi billion-dollar company.” Again, he got results he needed from people that he supervised. And so let’s look a little bit more into holding people accountable.
Supervisors want results, and when you’re a supervisor, that is your job to get the results from the people you supervise. And people being supervised feel good about achieving results. So why are sometimes results not achieved? What’s the problem? Well, according to Strigl, the Verizon guy, he said, “It’s because managers often get tripped up on being nice and accommodating to their employees, even ignoring poor performance just to maintain good relationships.” And again, in my supervisory training with employers all over the place, this is something that I have seen over and over again, is that supervisors let employees get away with things. And one of the reasons they do is because they don’t like confrontation. So I try to encourage them to not think it as, as a confrontation, think of it as a consultation, a communication when you’re talking with the employee and holding them accountable. So, rewording it, relabeling it in their brain might help.
But another reason that people don’t hold them accountable is because the organization lets employees get away with things. So I have a client and we talk about accountability and supervisory training, and they have told me, “Oh, we’ll write people up all the time, 10, 11, 12, whatever, many times.” Well, what happens to people after they get written up 11 or 12 times? “Well, nothing, because the organization doesn’t want us to fire anybody.” Okay, so that’s not accountabili-ty, just writing people up.
So, being nice and accommodating is a good thing. And sometimes being accommodating is a legally required thing, but not at the expense of getting results. Strigl, our Verizon guy, said, “In the short term, employees ap-preciate the kindness and flexibility. In the long term, employees get frustrated and bored with their own lack of drive and performance.” And he emphasized that employees appreciate being pushed to perform more than they appreciate being coddled.
Now, much has been written about Steve Jobs after his death, including accounts that he was somewhat difficult to work with. And Jobs allegedly once said, “My job is not to be easy on people. My job is to take these great people we have and to push them and make them even better.” And no one can dispute that Jobs achieved results. But, this former employee of Apple demonstrated that Jobs was appreciated for his high drive and for pushing employees. He said, this employee said, “I remember being at a talk he gave shortly after returning in 1997 as interim CEO.” You might recall that Jobs was forced out of Apple for a while and then he got to come back. But the employee said at this meeting, Jobs said to employees, “If you want to make Apple great again, let’s get going. If not, get the hell out.” And the employee said, “I think it’s not an overstatement to say that just about everyone in the room loved him at that point and would have followed him off a cliff if that’s where he led them.
Holding employees accountable. So how do you do it? Well, first of all, you want to use data. And so you want to make sure that you have your facts straight, because that’s one of the things that I’ve seen with supervisors also is they think they know the facts, they think they have the story, and then they go to hold people accountable and they didn’t have all the info that they needed. And so it’s really critical that you have data, that you research information, make sure you’ve got the facts straight before you have any consequences that people don’t want. And then the other thing, create a plan for people to do what they need to do, such as a performance improvement plan, which again, the employee, Tony, got after he’d failed miserably because he didn’t have what he needed in the first place.
So supervisors who hold their employees accountable for achieving results are actually doing them a favor. Henry Ford said, “There is joy in work. There is no happiness except in the realization that we have accomplished some-thing.” Well, I think we can find happiness outside of just accomplishing something. But we all know that when we accom-plish things, we feel good. And sometimes we have to be held accountable in order to accomplish what we’re supposed to accomplish, because really people will try to get away with what they can get away with to a certain degree. And so, that’s the role of the supervisor, to ensure that there are consequences when people have the ability to achieve and are simply not doing it.
So, as far as Tony was concerned and as far as accountability was concerned, they had an interesting situation where he worked–there was no time clock. And so his employees would check in with a guard at the gate. And that was how they kept time, which was not good at all. And so, Tony didn’t really have time to check to see if employees were arriving on time. But then he got dinged for not holding employees accountable for being late. He didn’t know how many times he could write up employees for being late before taking other disciplinary action. And then some of the other supervisors weren’t holding people accountable for being late. And so, he really didn’t know what he was supposed to do as far as accountability was concerned. But yet they held him accountable and there were unfortunate consequences for him because of him not holding his employees accountable. So you guessed it, Tony finally quit, because it was just too much. So before we leave this slide, I just want to say, Bill Gates said, “As we look ahead into the next century, leaders will be those who empower others.” You can’t solve all the problems that your job brings you. There are just too many to solve.
And when we allow employees to help in the problem solving and give them the authority to do so, then that helps us do our job.
All right, let’s finally go to delegating and talk about how that intertwines with empowerment. Delegating is the assignment of any responsibility or authority to another person, and it’s normally from a supervisor to an employee, to carry out specific duties. It’s one of the core concepts of leadership. Unfortunately, some people just do not like to dele-gate or they just don’t know how. And the thing that I hear over and over again is, “If I have other people do this, they won’t do it right or it’s just easier for me to do it because it takes too much time teaching somebody else how to do it.” Well, what ends up happening when you have those philosophies, you end up doing all the work, and then you get burnout and you get frustrated. And so, let’s prevent that from happening. Let’s figure out how to delegate.
So first of all, when to delegate. Well, these are some questions to ask yourself to figure out if this is the right time. Is this a task that someone else can do or do I need to do it myself? Obviously, if you need to do it yourself, you don’t give it away. But that’s the first thing to ask, if somebody else can do it, then maybe you should give it away. Does the task provide an opportunity for some employee to grow and develop, to learn and build more skills? And so if this is an opportunity for them to learn something new and develop these skills, maybe it’s the right time to do it. Is this a task that will recur in the future? And so if it’s a one-time deal, maybe you do it. But if it’s something that happens monthly, weekly, something like that, then maybe teaching somebody else how to do it is the right thing to do.
And do you have enough time to delegate the job effectively, meaning you’ve got to be able to train people, you’ve got to have an opportunity for them to ask questions and you can patiently answer all of their questions, you can check in on their progress, you can have them do some rework if necessary. Is there enough time in order for that to hap-pen? And if there is, then perhaps this is the time to delegate.
Now, is this a good time to delegate, when you don’t like doing something? Well, it might be, but then again, it might not be. If you’re just throwing people crummy tasks to do because you don’t want to do it, that’s not what dele-gating is.
Delegating is trying to help develop people so that you can empower them. And so if it’s something that you just don’t like doing, maybe you’re not going to give it away.
Should you delegate when you’re crazy busy? Well, maybe it can help you be less crazy busy, but then the other thing, remember, you’ve got to have time to train, you’ve got to have time to patiently answer questions, to do some rework if it’s necessary. And so if you’re crazy busy, maybe not.
When the work you’re delegating is just busywork, just to keep somebody busy because they’ve got nothing else to do. Probably not, because that’s not developing them. And remember, delegating and developing go hand in hand.
And is this a good time to delegate, when you’re the only one who knows how to do it? Well, it might be because if you’re the only one who knows how to do it, that’s not a really good position for you to be in. What if something happens to you? But then again, if you’re the only one who knows how to do it, maybe you are the only one who needs to know how to do it and no one else needs to. So these are just all things to consider when trying to figure out, is this the time to delegate?
Now, when you’re considering to whom to delegate, you want to consider the experience, the knowledge, the skills, the attitude of the employee that you might delegate to. And so, that’s the thing, what do they already know about the task that I’m going to delegate? If they know something about it already, then perhaps this is a good time. What skills do they have or what skills do they need to develop? Delegating should really help develop people’s skills. And what atti-tude do they have about it? Is this something they want to do or is this something that they really don’t want to do? Even if they don’t want to do it, this still might be something that you delegate to them, but it’s something to assess first. Do you have the time and resources to provide any training needed? And so, again, remember, delegation takes time.
So deciding to whom to delegate, consider people’s preferred work style. So how independent is the per-son? Chances are you want to delegate to somebody who is more independent. But then again, maybe one of the reasons they’re so dependent is because they haven’t learned skills and knowledge that they need. So delegating might help them be more independent.
What do they want from their job? Is, do they want to grow and develop and learn new things so that they can move on? Or are they just happy doing exactly what they’re doing right now? What are their long-term goals and inter-ests? And how might what you delegate to them align with what they’re interested in, where they want to go?
And consider the current workload of the person–do they have time to take on more tasks, or are you going to stress them out and send them over the edge? Will you delegating the task to them require that they shuffle everything else around? And is that going to be a good thing or a bad thing? So here’s a little quiz about whether this is a good person to delegate to or not. Robin can’t balance her checkbook. Should you delegate creating a budget to her? Okay, true story, I didn’t know how to balance my checkbook. So, should I learn how to create a budget? Well, maybe. Maybe because I can’t balance my checkbook, learning how to create a budget is exactly what I need to do. And, on the other hand, maybe it’s exactly what I shouldn’t do, and you don’t want to let me anywhere near a budget. Robert asked numerous questions about every task he is assigned. Should you delegate a really complex assignment to him? Well, it sounds like no, because now he’s going to ask me a bazillion questions. But again, maybe giving something to him, if you have the time to answer all those questions, is exactly what he needs to build a skill. Robbie likes attention to detail. Should you delegate creating a spreadsheet to him? And again, at first glance, you’re thinking no, because he doesn’t have the detail he needs. But again, how will he develop detail? This might be a great tool to help him do that. And Bob is crazy busy. Should you delegate responsibility for the employee ap- preciation party to him? Probably not. It will probably not be a good party. So that one’s kind of a no-brainer.
All right. Next, let’s go to how to delegate. What you want to do is begin with the end result. And so, letting people know this is the result that I need from you. So begin with the end in mind, and specify clearly what you want so that, remember those clear expectations are motivational. So identify any constraints or boundaries, time limitations. And one of the important things is to talk about, the, how often you should communicate. And so should the person wait to be told what to do? Should they ask what to do? Should they recommend what should be done, but ask for permission to do it? Should they act and then tell you that they’ve done it? So, what exactly is their authority, responsibility? How often do you want them to check in with you to make sure they’re on the right path? And so that’s one of the things, some people might expect, that a person would check in with them quite often, but the person expects that they’re going to go do their thing and they’ll bring you the finished product. And so it’s really important that you lay it all out there.
Talking more about how to delegate. Where possible, let employees decide what task will be delegated to them and when. And so that’s not always possible. But getting the employees’ input helps the employee have buy-in on being delegated to. And delegate to the lowest possible organizational level. The people closest to the work are usually best suited for the task and it also helps develop them. Provide adequate support, be available to answer questions, en-sure that there’s an ongoing communication that you have specified exactly what you want.
And, here’s one of the things that’s really important, too, unless things have to be done exactly so, just focus on the results and let people get there, how they get there. Let them control their own methods, their own processes. If you are telling them exactly what to do and it’s not necessary, that’s that micromanaging I talked about earlier. That usually is a real turnoff for people. People need to have a sense of autonomy, that they have control over what they can do. And I know when you’re delegating, sometimes that that’s tough, to just let them have control. But again, if you’re just focusing on the results and let them get there, how they get there, then that makes people feel more empowered.
And avoid upward delegation. And so that’s when you give somebody a problem and then they just keep coming back to you to have you fix it for them. So I tried to do that with a manager, once upon a time. She was telling me, “Okay, I want you to make this phone call to this person and I want you to tell this person the following things.” And I said, “Well, isn’t it just easier for you to make the phone call?” “Yeah, but then you won’t learn how to make the phone call.” And at the time I thought, aw man, this is so silly. Just make the phone call. But then I realized what she was doing. She’s teaching me how to do this process, and unless I physically do it myself, I won’t learn. So that’s upward delegation. Don’t let people push it back up to you to solve all the problems. Ask them for how they would solve the problem. Don’t simply provide the answer. If you’re always providing the answer to people, they won’t learn how to solve the problem themselves.
And then build motivation and commitment. Discuss how success will impact them financially. Maybe if they take on this new task, they’re more in line for a promotion, or they’re more in line for a bonus, or something. So, what is the benefit to them of taking on this new task or whatever task you’re going to give them? It helps them be more motivated to accept it.
Now, you do need to establish and maintain control. So timelines, deadlines, the schedule of checkpoints, when you’re going to review things, making any necessary adjustments, and then doing some rework if you need to. And that’s a lot of work. And that’s one of the reasons that people just go, it’s easier for me to do it myself, I’ll just do it. How-ever, if you always keep doing all of those things, you will always keep doing all of those things. So entrepreneur Eli Broad said, “The inability to delegate is one of the biggest problems I see with managers all the time.” And I would agree, it takes a lot of work and it takes some thought and a plan. But if you delegate effectively, you can expand the work and the results that you are providing to your supervisor and that will make you look good. All right, that’s the info I have for you. Do you have any questions for me?
Emmet Ore Alrighty, thanks, Robin. It looks like we have one question here. If I’m not a supervisor, what can I do with this information?
Robin Paggi Oh, good question, and I realize that some of you are not supervisors. And so, how do you empower yourself is how I would go about doing it. And once again, remember, a lot of supervisors have not had training on these things. And so, you can help them by providing some information. So, first of all, we just go back to the things that we’ve talked about. Do you know how to do what you are supposed to be doing? So skills is the first thing that, the first thing for em- powerment. And so, if you do not have the skill you need, if you need more training, if you need coaching, if you need men- toring, then that is something that you should ask for. And, the other thing is resources. Do you have the resources that you need? And if you don’t, then you should ask for it. Having authority is part of the thing of empowerment, and so, asking for more responsibility, for more authority to be able to do things. And so you see on every single one of these things, if you’re a supervisor, is not naturally taking the initiative to provide these things for you, then it’s in your best interest to take the initiative to ask for them. And letting supervisors know that they will benefit from you taking on more things, learning more things, delegating more things that that will benefit them as well. And so, that might just inspire them to do those things for you.
Emmet Ore Excellent. This is pretty similar, but maybe you, you answered this in your previous answer, but what is the best way to ask for more training resources if I don’t feel empowered?
Robin Paggi Well, and so and the previous question, I was talking about things to ask for and just to ask, but on this one, how to do it specifically? I think really being thoughtful and having a plan in mind yourself, a career development path, or a performance improvement plan, or something like that. But, really thinking it out, don’t just pop into your supervisor’s office and say, “I want to do more.” Figure it out yourself, have some specific ideas on things. And again, how what you want to do ties in with the organization’s missions, its goals, it’s in alignment. And so these are not just simply things that benefit you, they benefit the organization. Because remember, it takes some time and sometimes some money to provide the training, the resources, those types of things. And so any time you’re trying to convince someone to give you some- thing in the workplace, using a business case, or presenting a business case, is one of the best ways to do it. And that is, here is the situation, here is the solution, and this is your return on investment. And when you are able to lay it out that way with specific ideas on exactly what needs to happen in order for them to get that return on investment, then the answer will more likely be what you want it to be.
Emmet Ore Thank you. Looks like we have another one that’s kind of in the same vein. What can I do if I have requested for job descriptions and resources, but they don’t give it to us?
Robin Paggi Well, one of the things, a lot of job descriptions are online. And so I would look to see if they are online available for you and that you can find them for yourself and not have to wait on somebody to provide them for you. And then, the other thing again is, if there are resources that you need that you are not getting, to state specifically what you need, why you need it, how much it cost, where you can get it, and the return on investment. For example, if I were to have this piece of equipment, I would be able to do this job twice as fast as what I’m doing now. And so, so take the initiative to try to find those things for yourself, provide as much information as you possibly can beforehand. And with the job description, if your company just simply doesn’t have the job descriptions available, then you can always find similar job descriptions for other companies online. Present them to your supervisor or manager and say, “Is this basically what my job is supposed to be? I need some additional clarification, and let’s sign off on something so that we’ve got it official.” But I will tell you, I have had a number of jobs where I did not have a job description. And, sometimes when people said, “Hey, you’re not doing your job.” And I said, “I don’t have a job description,” that inspired them to get me a job description.
Emmet Ore Excellent. Okay. It looks like that’s all the questions we have. If you guys do have any additional questions, feel free to reach out at email@example.com, and we’ll get those questions answered for you. And I just like to thank you all for tuning in this month, tuning in today. And I hope you’ll join us next month. We’ll be talking a little bit about tech- nology. And, I don’t know, Robin, if you want to kind of give yourself a plug for next month, but…
Robin Paggi I will.
Emmet Ore Excellent, yeah.
Robin Paggi Yeah, let me jump in here. We’re going to start with leading positive change. And so everything is constantly changing, and how you lead that change is critical in getting your results. And we’ll be talking about some legal and ethical aspects of supervising that sometimes supervisors don’t know and get themselves in trouble because they’re breaking the law and they don’t know that they’re doing that. And how to manage employees’ absenteeism, which is one of the major chronic issues when people are back at the workplace. And also how to manage employees in a technological world, be- cause all this technology, the problems it presents and we’ll provide some solutions for you.
Emmet Ore Perfect. Well, there you have it. We’ll be sending out invites for that over the next few days, so keep your eyes open. And once again, thank you all, and have a great rest of your day.