The trouble with the rat race is even if you win you’re still a rat.
Delegation - Part 2
The advantages of delegation are plentiful – higher efficiency and increased motivation in your staff and more time for yourself. When you delegate you develop the skills of your team. However, delegation is not just dumping things you don’t want to do onto your employees. It is about entrusting authority to the staff. While the objective of delegation is to get the work done, it goes beyond completing tasks. Effective delegation includes giving employees the power to make decisions when they get new information. It teaches them to think through alternatives and to make wise recommendations to you. In other words, the right way to delegate is to empower your staff to respond to situations without referring back to you.
Now there are responsibilities that you should never delegate. These are the personnel duties that only leaders and managers must handle. Things like performance reviews, promotions, team-building, organization, terminations. But it is likely that there are many aspects of your practice that you could be delegating to others. Here are some steps toward that goal.
- Delegate gradually
Be sure that the employee feels able to complete the task you assign. The last thing you want to do is to de-motivate your staff. Build up skills and confidence in stages. Start with a small job that leads to success. Then add another small task that builds on the first and when that is accomplished add another stage, etc. etc. Each task delegated should have enough complexity to ‘stretch’ the employee just a little. This is akin to giving employees a staircase rather than asking them to scale a wall.
- Provide training
For your employees to be entrusted with decision making requires confidence, on their part and yours. The route to that end is training. This is not necessarily formal training, although it might be. In most cases, training involves helping employees gain access to knowledge and information they will need to get the job done. For example, who to call when the x-ray machine malfunctions; the name and phone number of your IT consultant; and preferred vendors for office and dental supplies.
- Be accessible
‘Letting go’ of tasks increases as you gain confidence in your staff. That means keeping an eye on your employees. At the same time, it is a mistake to keep checking up on your team and asking for progress reports. That’s called micro-managing. The correct way to delegate is to agree in advance how often and at what time you will meet. Decide on the reporting schedule beforehand. Your employees will feel encouraged by your continuing support. When you stay involved you also communicate the importance of the task and your willingness to help employees learn and grow.
- Celebrate small victories along the way
When you review delegated projects with staff members, avoid jumping in too quickly. The primary goal in delegation is for your employees to learn. If Sally the hygienist is capable of making decisions, encourage her to do so. Your job is to validate her choices. In turn, she will be more willing to take risks. If she made a wise decision, congratulate her. Certainly it’s okay to suggest modifications but leave the final solution to her. Now if Sally is wrong you need to tell her, but be kind as well as honest.
- Keep your high standards in check
Refrain from criticizing the outcome of employees’ work because you would have done it better or faster. Instead, prompt them to evaluate themselves. Ask questions and insist that they provide you with answers before giving them feedback on the end result. The point is to teach employees to think through issues and questions before raising them with you. By helping them to rehearse the full authority of decision-making your employees benefit, and you do too.
Dr. Haller is available to coach you to higher levels of performance in your practice. Contact her at email@example.com.
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