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One Quick Tip to Master Effective Delegation


Have you read the classic article by Harvard Business Review titled ‘Who’s Got the Monkey‘? Please bear with us, it has everything to do with the promise in the title of this post!

The seminal tongue in cheek piece  focuses on  the importance of delegating tasks the right way. Go, take and look and come right back.

Stephen Covey says that the tasks (or monkeys) should stay put on the backs of your direct reports and shouldn’t attempt to jump on to yours. Otherwise you will soon get overwhelmed, while your team will become idle.

In short, do not reverse roles unintentionally. When you end a meeting with a team member, the next move or progress report should come from him and not from you!

Its great advice and can make the life of a senior executive that much easier.

But here’s the problem. Success doesn’t come with delegation.

It comes with effective follow-up of what you have delegated. The monkeys might be with their keepers but at the end of the day, you are in charge of their ultimate welfare.

You, the boss, must be able to keep track of anything and everything that you have assigned to your team members.

Because If You Don’t…..

Productivity takes a nose-dive.

When a particular task is stuck, the rest of the project suffers with it. And you are deemed responsible for the frustration that ensues.

Yes, your team need to get back with their tasks ON TIME. But most of them try and use their mind to remember things and that never works well. The result is an inability to be punctual with tasks.

You as the captain of the ship must be able to follow up with your team who have been assigned tasks to ensure projects are on schedule. This involves:

  • Knowing who has been delegated what. Sounds simple but when there are several large projects with multiple team members involved, keeping track of responsibilities becomes overwhelming.
  • Knowing when the delegated tasks are due.

Your calendar is not up to the job! You need something more fool-proof and effective. And this is what GTD® suggests.

Maintain an @WaitingFor List:

It is a list of all the tasks and activities that you have delegated to team members for various projects. The magic lies in how the items are jotted. The best practice is:

[Name of Person] [Task Assigned with Particulars] [Date of Assignment]

So if Ramesh has been given the duty of creating a sales pitch, then this is how he will show up on your @WaitingFor List.

Ramesh Singh: Send back final version of Sales Pitch for Energy Drink Campaign [10/01]

With time, this format will become a part of your thinking process and you don’t need to consciously remember the template heads.

How to Create an Updated and Complete @WaitingFor List?

  1. Do a brain dump of everything that you have assigned to team members. Take your time. It could be a long list.
  2. Input this information into your @WaitingFor List in the recommended format.
  3. Whenever you delegate an assignment to a direct report, make sure that you add it to the list.
  4. Review this list at least once a week to remove tasks that have been completed/delivered and to keep it current.

With this kind of planning you will be on top of what has been delegated to whom.

You will conserve precious mental bandwidth and will be able focus on your creative tasks.

Your team members will respect you for your alacrity and will ensure that they keep up their end of the bargain – without excuses.

Isn’t that brilliant?

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