Tag Archives: Delegation

When I have more time

The reality is that we will never have more time; everyone has the same 1440 minutes in a day, and the same 168 hours in a week. (Okay, so if you’re in the UK you will have had an extra hour on Saturday night, but don’t forget that will be cruelly snatched back from us in March!).

It’s what we do with that time that counts.

It’s not just how we spend our time that impacts us, but how our team spend their time, too. When they’re not being as productive as you think they should or could be it’s important to stand back and analyse why.

That’s one of the things I’ve been doing this week for one of my clients. I’ve been working with some newly appointed customer service supervisors, who have been getting too bogged down in the day-to-day reactive tasks (which really should be carried out by their team members) and thus making very little headway on some of the proactive activities they should be working on to drive their customer service forward.

I find it’s not unusual for newly appointed managers or supervisors to lack confidence in allocating or delegating tasks, for fear of losing control or in case the team member doesn’t do it as well as they would’ve done. Particularly when they have been promoted internally.

However, when they fail to delegate and trust team members to get on with things this can lead to frustration all round. The supervisor has too much to do and ends up with too little time to complete bigger picture and more proactive tasks. Their line manager is frustrated because there is little headway on these proactive activities. And the team members end up feeling undervalued.

Of course, this all has a knock-on effect on the customer too. Even if they don’t sense the frustration amongst the team, they will undoubtedly end up not receiving the best service possible.

If your supervisors are struggling to let go here are 7 ideas and points to review with them.

  1. Get them to identify what they are here for; what things wouldn’t happen if the job didn’t exist. Most people will give you a list of the tasks or activities that won’t get completed. Let them give you this list but then go back and get them to identify the outcomes of those activities. For example: an activity might be conducting monthly 1:1 meetings with each of their team members, one of the outcomes of which is for team members to feel valued, ultimately contributing to their level of engagement and productivity.
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  2. Ask them to track and then analyse a day’s activity. Of all of the activities they completed during the day how many of these and what proportion of time was spent on things that only they could do, and that contributed to what they’re there for. Then get them to identify all the things that in a perfect world could be delegated to somebody else. See if there are any activities left, that really don’t need to be done at all.
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  3. Explain to them the difference between importance and urgency (ref: Stephen R. Covey ~ The 7 Habits Of Highly Effective People). Help them identify examples of tasks which are non-urgent but important (QII activities). Then get them to break down these activities into the smallest possible denominator, so they can identify which tasks could be delegated, and schedule in the rest, so they can be chipping away at these QII activities.
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  4. Ask them to identify what holds them back with delegating; for them to be as honest as possible. Their responses might include: fear of losing control, reluctance to give up the tasks they enjoy, thinking it will be quicker to do it themselves, they’re not confident team members are capable, they’re afraid they’re going to get a negative response when they ask, they don’t want to overburden anyone.
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  5. Help them identify what can be gained from delegating tasks: free up time for proactive tasks, develop and/or stretch team members, the job might get done more quickly, more cheaply, and maybe even done better!
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  6. Before delegating anything, get them to prepare, by thinking through the purpose of the task, how it will be measured, what this person will need to carry it out effectively, and how it will be followed up. Here’s a checklist I use with inexperienced managers and supervisors to help them really think it through in advance. They won’t need this every time, but it helps focus their mind on what they need to consider beforehand.
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  7. Monitoring and measurement is an area where you might have extremes. Some newly appointed managers are so nervous about letting go, they hover the whole time and never give the person a chance to get on with it. But then at the other end of the spectrum you might have managers who simply make the assumption that everything is on track, and don’t do enough to monitor or follow-up that the task of been completed, as requested.

Letting go is a gradual process, and any inexperienced manager or supervisor will need time to build up their confidence before they will trust their team members to get on with the task in hand. So, in the same way you would expect them to review and follow-up with tasks they have allocated, you’ll need to do the same with them to build up their confidence and skill.

 

p.s. If you’d like some help training your first line managers set up a call with me here, via my online diary


I can’t do that

When you ask someone to do something and they tell you they can’t, what do they really mean?

Let’s imagine it’s a member of your team. You ask them to do something and they respond “I can’t do that”. It may not be quite as direct as that “Erm, I don’t think I can do that…”. But the result is the same – a barrier.

Of course, the words alone might miss some of the meaning. What does their tone suggest? Is it one of hesitation, or of indignation? What does their body language imply? Fear, frustration, disgust?

Find out what’s prompted their reaction.

Is it merely an excuse due to a lack of willingness because they’re not convinced it’s worth the effort?

Or do they genuinely mean that they’re not capable, due to a lack of skill or knowledge, or some other underlying reason?

I can’t…” might simply mean a lack of confidence, and they’re in need of some reassurance, coaching or practice. Perhaps there are other skills that are a prerequisite, which they don’t yet have. Or, worse they fear it will expose other weaknesses they feel they have.

I can’t…” could mean they haven’t got all the resources they need. Maybe there’s special equipment needed, or a budget they don’t have. Perhaps they don’t think they have the time, or know what they can leave out instead to make time.

I can’t…” may be because they’ve simply not been allowed to do this before. Old systems, processes or procedures have prevented them, and despite the fact you’ve moved on nobody as yet has set out the new ‘rules’, or demonstrated their faith in them to do it.

We mustn’t dismiss the reason might be because they don’t feel it’s right; they don’t believe it’s the right solution for the situation, they might feel is not their place to do it, or they might be concerned it’s not ethical or just.

Why?

Whatever is behind it unless you understand why it can be difficult to move forward.

Simply asking directly “Why can’t you?” could be seen as a criticism or confrontational, so may not be well received or give you the real reason.

A simple, but concerned “… Because?”  might elicit the real reason, but check this isn’t just a stalling device or excuse. So, if example they tell you they can’t do it because they don’t have enough time due to another project or task, you might respond with something along the lines of “if we could re-gig your priorities and free up some time, what then?” This will help to flush out if this is the real reason or just an excuse and if there is another underlying reason which they may be more reluctant to tell you.

So, when you hear comments such as “I can’t do that”, or “we can’t do that” look out for and listen for hesitation and find out what’s behind their response.


Learn to Let Go

Balloons letting go

I caught myself this week doing something I really should have delegated to someone else.

Not only was this tying up my valuable time when I could be doing something only I can do; the person who should have done it would have done a better job, and quite possibly in half the time!

Do you ever find yourself falling into this trap?

I’m not just referring to doing routine administrative or mundane tasks. There’s many a time that the things we do to respond to customers’ needs and expectations could also be done just as well (or even better) by others.

When we have an excellent relationship with customers it can be difficult to let go. We often feel guilty or obliged to that customer to look after them ourselves; to give them a personal service. And we’re potentially worried they won’t feel as valued if we delegate some aspects of the customer relationship to our team.

But in doing so we could actually be diluting our efforts and giving a poorer customer experience. What happens when we’re on holiday, tied up with other projects, or when two or more customers all need us at the same time?

We can’t do everything! We need to put our trust in others and delegate some of that responsibility.

But what if we’re not confident anyone in the team is up to it?

I’m not talking here about abdication. You if you were teaching your child to swim you wouldn’t just dump them in at the deep end and let them get on with it. You’d show them, coach them, support them until they were ready to go it alone. And even then you’d be watching at the poolside until you could see they were safe.

Ah, but… I hear some say.

  • “My customer trusts me and expects to deal with me”
    They expect to always deal with you because that’s what you’ve always given them. If they are never given the chance to speak to your team that will never change. Set expectations early on with your customers so they know who is the best person to speak to when. Introduce your customers to your team so they know who they’re dealing with and build trust (and their expectations) early on.
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  • “It takes too much time to explain, I can do it quicker”
    In the short-term yes, but in the longer term if you delegate you are saving time to attend to more important things to add value for your customer. Having simple systems in place for routine queries means you might only have to invest the time once.
  • “They aren’t yet capable”
    And never will be unless you start incorporating delegation and trust into your people development plans.
  • “They won’t do it as well as me”
    Maybe, but are you being too much of a perfectionist? Does the task need such a degree of excellence?  If not, maybe someone can deal with the task adequately in less time so the customer isn’t kept waiting. 
  • “They aren’t yet qualified, authorised or licenced to do that”
    Everyone has to start somewhere so get them involved and leave time for you to approve or endorse their efforts before it gets sign off or the rubber stamp. (None of us would ever pass our driving test if we weren’t able to actually get out on the road and drive; it just needs plenty of practice and handholding along the way until ready.)
  • “If they are left to deal with someone else my customer won’t be happy and I’ll lose their respect”
    You’ll upset customers far more and lose more respect by delaying your response and by not devoting enough time to the areas of expertise they’re paying you for because you are too distracted by routine and administrative issues.

So in regard to having an obligation to that customer to look after them and give them a personal service – yes you should. But you won’t be able to if you get sucked into tasks that don’t require your level of expertise or experience.

The skill is knowing when to let go of the day to day issues, and put your trust in someone else to get on with things, leaving you to focus on the more important aspects of your relationship that only you can do and on the more strategic aspects of the businesses.



Learn to let go

I caught myself this week doing something I really should have delegated to someone else. Not only was this tying up my valuable time when I could be doing something more productive; the person who should have done it would have done a better job, and in half the time!

Do you ever find yourself falling into this trap?

When you own the business or have high stakes in it, it can sometimes be difficult to let others get on with things. In my recent interview series ‘How to Give Your Hotel a Competitive Edge’ two of my interviewees talked about how hands on they like to be. And it is understandable. And a good leader should be prepared to muck in and roll their sleeves up when absolutely necessary; but this should be the exception rather than the rule.

The skill is knowing when to let go of the day to day issues, and put your trust in someone else to get on with things, leaving you to focus on the more strategic aspects of the businesses.

So just check to see if you ever catch yourself using any of these ‘excuses’

 

■              “It takes too much time to explain, I can do it quicker”
In the short-term yes, but in the longer term if you delegate you are saving time

 

■              “They aren’t yet capable”
And never will be unless you start incorporating delegation as part of your people’s development plans

 

■              “No-one, except me, is up to it”
Maybe, but are you being too much of a perfectionist?  Does the task need such a degree of excellence?  If not, maybe someone can do the job adequately in less time

 

■              “I enjoy these tasks – losing them would make my job less interesting”
In the longer term, improvement in staff morale and performance will make your job easier and just as enjoyable

 

■              “I delegate some things – the things I hate”
Consider whether simply discarding and offloading work you don’t want to do is the most effective way to develop and motivate people

 

■              “If someone else does it I’ll lose control and respect”
You’ll lose more control and more  respect by not devoting enough time to managing the whole business effectively because you are too wrapped up in the detail.

 

My new online leadership coaching programme is being launched in September.

For the full article on delegation go here.

Caroline Cooper