I really like to provide you all things as they come up regularly in my coaching sessions. I know that if it is something I am running into more than once, then many of you may be running into the same issues. Delegation creates one of these problems and it is associated with Communications. There are already struggles with styles of Delegation, but this one has a lot to do with how well a team works. So, this is not about Communications Styles nor is it about what kind of Delegation you are doing. This is all about Listening.
Now, most coaches will teach people some form of Active Listening. This is where you quiet your thoughts and try to absorb what the other party is telling you. You provide follow-up questions and feedback on the information that you have received. The question is what do you do while you are delegating an assignment. Then I suggest a technique that I call Active Telling.
Let me use an example. Many of us have had to deal with a Teenager that responds to all task assignments with, “Okay”. The problem is that you know that the Teenager is actually only acknowledging that you spoke. There is no semblance that they understood the assignment and agreed that they would do it. That same thing happens all the time in work setting. You ask someone to do something and they say, “Okay”.
What can you do at this point? Well, some classic questions would be to ask things like:
“When can I expect you to be done?”
“How will I know that you are done?”
“How will you move the project to the next step?”
The entire point of these kinds of questions is to get the person talking about the assignment. Once they are discussing the assignment with you, you will then have more robust feedback on whether they understood the task the way that you meant them to understand it.
Remember it is much better to make sure that a task is started the right way. Nothing good can happen if a task is completed incorrectly. Many of those mistakes come about because of incomplete communications. Sometimes this seems time consuming but that only brings up the old adage, “You don’t have time to do it right, but you have time to do it twice.”
This is one of the reasons that experienced teams can be more productive. Many routine tasks have a predefined pattern of interaction. Even unfamiliar tasks can often be compared to past work to establish a baseline for action. The team will have established roles and expectations for the team members. All of this combines to make an experienced team more efficient than a new one.
So, help start team members down that path by using Active Telling!
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