Just Let Go! Delegation Tips Six to Ten

One of the biggest challenges start-up and small agency owners face is finding the time to handle their critical roles of articulating the agency vision, developing and implementing the agency strategy, and creating and leading the agency new business campaign, while they’re up to their necks in running accounts.

Reality Check One: You can’t do it all.

But since you’re the only agency staffer one who can own the first three jobs, the only role you can delegate is account management.  And it’s tough for agency leaders to delegate a job at which they’re so good, that’s allowed them to create their own firm, and that, let’s face it, many of them enjoy.

Reality Check Two:  You have no choice. Unless and until you become a delegation superstar, your agency will never truly succeed.

These realities make clear that delegation isn’t an option for the successful agency leader.  In “Letting Go Is Hard To Do” I provided five tips for successful delegation.  Here are five more:

6.  Get in the Delegation Mindset. Decide that you have no other choice but to delegate.  On your calendar, enter specific time to think about which roles, responsibilities and assignments can be done by your next-in-command. And commit in writing to giving those assignments away.

7.  Don’t Wait for Your Reports To Ask For More Responsibility. If you do, your delegation plan is doomed to fail. Many team members don’t ask for more responsibility because they think they’re too busy, have fear of failure or, based on previous experience or observation, don’t truly believe you’ll give them what they want: ownership. Have a plan to overcome these by a) giving them added support from those who report to them, or perhaps more realistically, the tools they need to become better time managers; b) encourage them to take educated risks and let them know you’ll be their safety net; and c) demonstrate your lack of interest in owning the assignment or role.

8.  Tell Them What Needs To Be Done, Not How To Do It. It’s always tempting to lay out exactly how the team member should complete a assignment, run an account, or do any of the jobs we used to do.  And that, my friends, is what’s known as “Delegation Fail.” Common sense dictates that someone will complete a job better if they feel a sense of ownership, and that can only  occur when they figure out the “how.” So let them!

9.  Articulate Your Vision. This is not time for guessing games. Whenever you delegate, be it an assignment or your entire former job, it’s critical to make clear how the person will be judged, what success looks like, and the task’s goals and stretch goals.

10.  Never ask  “Is this clear?” or “Do you understand?,” as the answer will inevitably be “yes.”  That’s because they understand what they understand.  It doesn’t mean they understand everything they must to satisfactorily complete the assignment.  So get the person talking by asking open-ended  questions.  Have them describe their vision of success for the project or assignment and make sure that what they articulate is in sync with your overall view.

What other delegation techniques do you employ so that you can do your real job as agency owner/leader?  I’d love for you to share them with my readers.

Ken Jacobs

I’m the principal of Jacobs Communications Consulting, which helps public relations and communications agencies and organizations grow and manage business, and enhance staff performance, leadership and communications skills.We do so via consulting, training, and coaching. To learn more, please click on the “Jacobs Communications Consulting” tab on the top.

6 comments
ssayler
ssayler

Hi Ken Thanks for these additional great tips. I especially like #8. I've seen many great projects go sideways when the regime was to rigid. It also blocks innovation and creativity that could save time, effort and money. My way isn't always the best way.... keeping an open mind is important.

KensViews
KensViews

Hi @MimiMeredith I appreciate your comment--as always--and the R/T. I read a comment on one of @GiniDietrich's posts a few weeks ago that said "If you can't delegate, you can't manage." I agree.

MimiMeredith
MimiMeredith

More great wisdom, Ken! I think it takes a very secure and mature manager to delegate well. You've certainlly offered some great tips. I think they even work for raising teenagers!

KensViews
KensViews

Hi @annedreshfield ,

Thanks so much for that input from the staff side. What leaders don't want their team members to feel useful, respected, and encouraged to work harder? It's great hear that your company is so motivating; the fact that they're giving you work beyond the day-to-day must signal their satisfaction with your performance-to -date. Keep it up!.

annedreshfield
annedreshfield

Hi Ken, this is a great post (and so is the first post!). As an intern, I've noticed that I respond best when my employers give me extra tasks and don't make me have to ask for them. Honestly, I'm busy enough with the day-to-day expected tasks, but the extra work only makes me feel respected, work harder, and feel as if I'm useful (and not a nuisance!) for the company. #7 is a fantastic point. Thank you!

KensViews
KensViews

Thanks, @ssayler . It takes an enlightened leader to accept that others in the organization might have a better way.

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