Delegation Tip: Aim For Dialogue When Delegating

When you’re delegating, you need to be a bit flexible. Different people will approach the same task in different ways. Some may want your involvement, others not. Some may want to be directed and taught how to do something; others may view direction as an affront to their skills and capabilities. How will you know?

The simplest way to ensure you’re flexible is to aim for dialogue. Don’t do all the talking. Why? You won’t know that the person to whom you’ve delegated fully understands, for one thing. If you simply end your monologue with, “OK, is that all clear?”, the most likely answer will be “yes”, if only for self-preservation! Second reason why dialogue in delegation is a good thing: the person will be able to tell you how they’re going to go about doing the task. This will tell you whether or not they know what they’re on about, need a little help, or are simply bluffing. Reason number three why dialogue is a good thing is that when we talk about doing something we’re more likely to do it. So it makes sense to give the microphone to the person you’re delegating to: as you let them speak you’ll be increasing their involvement and ownership of the task, and their likelihood of taking responsibility for getting it done.

And who knows, they just might come up with a better way!

The key to unlock your monologue habit and get the dialogue going is to ask the right questions and of course, listen well to the responses you get. Here are some starters for ten:

  • How would you feel about taking on xyz?
  • What do you already know about xyz?
  • What do you need to know to be able to do it?
  • How will you go about completing xyz?
  • When will you be able to do this?
  • Where are the resources you need?
  • What questions do you have about xyz?
  • What, if anything, might you find challenging?
  • How long will you need to do xyz?
  • When and how do you need me to be involved in this?

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