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Delegation: a tool to develop the skills of others

Every single interaction with a team member is an opportunity for that person’s growth and their supervisor’s freedom.

Each time you interact with an employee if, instead of answering questions, you ask questions, then you are continually developing them.


Employee: I’m not sure how you want me to set up this report you requested.

You: What are your ideas for setting it up?

This type of interaction accomplishes three things:

  1. You get a glimpse into how that employee thinks about work.
  2. You hear his/her solutions (and one of them may be better than yours!)
  3. Since s/he was involved in the planning, you gain “buy in.”

This is called the Socratic Delegation Process and results in direct employee development (we used to call it “hands on development” but that term is problematic these days).

For the Socratic Delegation Process template, click here.

Most direct supervisors act as “answer machines” when it comes to interacting with their direct reports. The trap here is that you then become indispensable–and it is a trap.

If your department cannot function without your presence then you can kiss any potential promotion goodbye. Taking you out of the department would be too risky for the overall business or organization.

More importantly, you end up with a team that is “phoning it in” because they’re not engaged–they think that’s your job.

For a PDF of this blog


Good Delegation = Greater Productivity

Years ago I came across an amazing piece of data from the Productivity Management Institute:

1 hour of uninterrupted work time = 7 hours of interrupted work.

And you know what? The data hasn’t improved. In this world of constant communication via text, emails, phone calls and “drop in” visitors, it has become increasingly difficult to concentrate.

What does this have to do with effective delegation?

When details are not delegated clearly at the front end of a task or project, then the person or team working on it has to interrupt their concentration to seek out clarification. Therefore, a task or project that might take only an hour of uninterrupted effort could easily turn into a seven-hour job. It doesn’t take an efficiency expert to understand the impact on productivity and the cost in terms of labor, money and stress.

The question I want you to continually ponder is:

Why is it we don’t have time to plan in detail at the beginning but we ALWAYS have time to fix things when they’re done incorrectly?

(Adding more unproductive time to the equation.)

 Whenever I mention the name of my workshop, How to Get Others to WILLINGLY Do What Needs to Be Done, I inevitably hear, “Wow. I need that!” or, “My team could sure use that!” If either of these matches your reaction, then give me a call today. Allow me to come in and work with the leaders in your organization to improve productivity by teaching them how to delegate skillfully.

What could you do with the time gained?

For a PDF of this article