Constant change requires leaders to excel in the basics

10 skills at the heart of every leader’s arsenal.

“Topic 3 – Creative Delegation Techniques”

written by Wayne Brown

Hello again, and welcome to our series called Constant change requires leaders to excel in the basics – and you’ve already reached topic 3 – Creative Delegation Techniques.

We now have 2 big topics behind us “Understanding your place in the team and Motivating your future team. But I’m very happy to say that we are still just getting started, and today’s discussion is equally important and challenging…

In this 3 pack – video, podcast, and associated blog, we’re going to break down our delegation process under 3 broad questions – WHY delegate, WHAT to delegate and HOW to delegate.

With the first question, “WHY delegate,” – we’ll identify that there can be multiple reasons but explore 3 which are key;

  • The first is to enable us to address stakeholders’ expectations. As discussed in Topic 1, we have numerous Stakeholders with far too many expectations, which we almost certainly, don’t have the capacity or perhaps even the necessary skills to cope with. 
  • Secondly, we have potentially 4 generations and considerable diversity in our workforce today whom we need to motivate and cultivate. 

We spoke about the need and ways of motivating from a neuro-science perspective in Topic 2. We also realize that many of our team are experts in their field and capable of working under pressure and coming up with practical new ideas, leading to positive outcomes.

  • And finally, we simply need time to give adequate attention to doing our job as a leader. To work on those critical tasks such as strategic planning, growth, managing the business, reporting, and team/s, to name just a few areas.

Suppose you recall the conversation about work-life balance from Topic 1. In that case, you will remember that we need to find a long-term solution to managing our workload rather than coping with everything as this isn’t sustainable. 

When adopting the wrong approach, we eventually give inadequate focus, time, and effort to all 3 mentioned areas and thereby fail to reach a successful result more often than not.

So, this covers our question on “WHY delegate.” Next, we turn our attention to the question of “WHAT to delegate.”

This second question starts with the realization that we can’t and shouldn’t delegate everything just for the sake of it. 

Hence, before delegating we need to make a conscious decision about:

  • the skill and willingness of the employee to take on the task,
  • the complexity and urgency of the task,
  • the amount of support we will need or be willing to provide,
  • there’s even the need to avoid delegating some tasks,

So, the leader really must be aware of and consider these questions fully from the outset.

And to assist us with this we introduce two models which come with simple tools as support.

And to assist us with this, we introduce two models which come with simple tools as support. 

The first is from the 34th American president. A gift to business called the Eisenhower matrix, and the second is the skill/will matrix from Blanchard and Hersey.

Before moving onto these areas or tools, we need to first explore a little on the reasons behind some managers’ reluctance to delegate. 

A number of these reasons may sound trivial, or perhaps a few will even sound familiar, but most are common among managers.

Here are 10 limiting statements which we have heard and even seen being played out by various managers – you notice we don’t use the term Leader in this discussion. 

Aside from the fact that we should already be clear that you don’t have sufficient time to do everything – and even in the situation where you work long hours, we know that it’s not sustainable. 

And in all instances, there are actions you can take to alleviate your concerns. 

As usual, you will find links throughout our blog to additional material, which will help deepen your learnings where needed. 

However, if you still need more convincing, please refer back to the beginning of this topic and review 3 key reasons WHY we delegate.

  • With that clarity, let’s examine the Eisenhower matrix – we use it to help us group our tasks before selecting which ones to delegate. 

Typically, we agree that Quadrant 1 tasks are for the leader or manager to handle due to the urgency and importance. 

These pressing tasks often preclude you from having an employee do it UNLESS the employee is already an expert in this area. 

However, it may be a good idea with non-confidential or sensitive tasks to have a team member work on the job with you as a means of developing their skills for the longer term.

  • From the Eisenhower matrix and your groupings, the best area to select tasks for delegation comes out of Quadrant 3. Besides, it will also be useful to choose from Quadrant 2 for specific items.

If you’re unsure how to use this tool, check out the link provided here to a great site, which steps you through the process. 

And we’ll outline under the final category in this topic, “How to delegate” – what to do with this list and how to distribute the chosen tasks among your team. 

Please be aware that there are sometimes where we agree that it’s not appropriate to delegate. The following tasks are examples where we would normally not delegate and are typically leadership and management tasks: 

• Employee evaluation meetings  

•  Strategic planning

•  Team development

•  Final decisions

•  Personnel selection

•  Tasks that have been delegated to you explicitly 

Not surprisingly, you will find most of these tasks in Quadrant 1 or perhaps Quadrant 2. And of course, as mentioned before, it does not mean that you can’t include some of your employees here to assist you and learn from you in the process for future support.

A manager needs to consider one further critical question: the level of support, focus, or control that the task and a team member would require. 

For the task, we should consider the;

  • complexity, urgency, and consequences if it is delayed or not completed correctly. 
  • And for the employee, we need to consider their qualification for the task and motivation to accept the assignment. 

We’ll now introduce our second model to help us address some of these concerns.

Starting with the model called the Skill / Will matrix.

The matrix can be used to assess your employee’s skill and willingness to perform a specific task or project. 

Based on that assessment, you can choose how to best manage the employee towards success. Note that an employee is seldom in one quadrant all the time but is likely to fall into one or more quadrants depending on the task.

Some of the supporting questions you might ask in parallel with your assessment are;

  • Does the employee have the necessary time and resources available? 
  • Does the employee have the essential professional qualifications to be able to successfully accomplish the task? 
  • Does the employee have the required overarching competencies? 
  • Would this task entail an increase in the capability and personal development of the employee? 
  • Does the job to be delegated accord with the employee’s motivation? 
  • How will the team / other departments react if the employee takes on the task? 
  • Will it be seen as fair if the employee is awarded this task? 

We’ve reached the final category, “HOW to delegate,” and until now, we have given you a lot of material, but not really anything new or creative. So that’s about to change!

Let’s first do a pulse check to ensure you’re clear about the tasks you have selected for delegation – if not, these should be sitting in the Eisenhower matrix you prepared. 

Also, you have considered the level of support, focus, and control needed for each task, plus determined with the aid of the skill/will matrix and your earlier work using the SCARF model which employees to delegate to which task.

If you are good with all of these, we’re now ready to go back to your Eisenhower model. Next to the quadrants, if you have not already done so, make a list of all your employees. Beside each of their names and at the top of any delegated tasks, write the words “Activity of Choice  TBC.” 

For the next step – send your team a group communication and invite them to join a meeting – at a date and time of your choosing, provided it’s not too far off. 

As part of the communication, you explain that this meeting will become a regular weekly or bi-weekly event. For the first meeting, each person should prepare at least one work-related activity they would be really passionate about and love to work on – they have the freedom to decide what it is. Still, they need to introduce the topic at the meeting, and it will be voted on and agreed upon by the group.

To open the meeting, you introduce the concept and purpose of this and future meetings. You advise that each team member will be allowed to develop their skills through various tasks or projects that you will be assigned to them. Also, they have their “Activity of Choice” – provided it makes the cut.

Moving forward at these future meetings, each team member will discuss the projects they are working on, the current status, and the next actions. 

By doing this, everyone in the team becomes aware of each-others work and will be required to discuss or contribute ideas to those projects.

Once each new “Activity of choice” is agreed on by the group, the project leader will have the time and resources allocated (after final approval with you, of course).

During that first meeting, you will ask each person to write their desired activity on the whiteboard and briefly introduce it to the group. 

As a group, you discuss the idea, the likely resources, and the time allocation needed? What value might it bring to the group and the business overall? If any other group member has a similar interest and would prefer to forgo their project to work on one of the others, they can do so. 

By the end of this first meeting, there should be a decision about who is working on what activity or project.  

Following this meeting, you meet with each person to detail the activities/projects / or tasks, and we’ll cover that process in our next topic – “SMART rules and reward goals.” 

For all future meetings, one final step – at the beginning of each meeting and before moving into the activity reviews, you have a compulsory “check-in” session where all team members share stories about what they did during the last weekend? 

This takes the degree of team connectedness to the next level and softens the relationships from being “all business, all the time.”

Do you recall our 3 whys for delegating – sharing the workload to satisfy your stakeholders, providing opportunities for team development and growth, plus freeing you up to focus on the tasks you need to do as a leader! 

In addition to achieving these goals, can you envisage the power of what you have unlocked through this final step in the process?

By allowing each generation to work on something they are passionate about, rather than only working on those activities delegated to them, you empower your people and create a sense of contribution, perhaps even unlocking untapped potential. 

By keeping the activities visible to the whole group, you ensure transparency, accountability, and engagement, even a sharing of learnings. This, in turn, should minimize conflict or, at worst, bring issues to the surface quickly so they can be openly discussed and resolved. 

So, who would have thought that this simple act of delegation could bring so many real team benefits?

Well, were making great progress. Hopefully, as we conclude each topic, you find an opportunity to practice what has been discussed. 

You should already start to see some fairly dramatic changes in your teams’ engagement and performance if you have been.

Our next video introduces us to the Virtual Gaming world as we tap into the secrets behind its popularity and apply this to our more traditional approach of managing by objectives. 

The title is “SMART rules and reward goals” – as always, we are looking forward to having you join us. Bye for now.

Constant change requires leaders to excel in the basics

10 skills at the heart of every leader’s arsenal.

“Topic 1 – Understanding your place in the team.”

transcript written by Wayne Brown

Welcome back… Hopefully, youve watched the intro video, read the blog, or listened to the podcast for this new series and have a general understanding of the 10 topics we are now starting to work through. 

The overall program is called Constant Change requires Leaders to Excel in the Basics and in this video, we cover the first of those basics, Understanding your place in the team.” 

As with all of our modules, we provide you three ways to access this content. In addition to the podcast, which you’re able to download, the full transcript (complete with pictures and additional links) can be found through our Coaches blog section of our website “amentorscouch.com.” or you can watch the original video on our YouTube channel “Mentors Rant.” Three ways to better lock in the knowledge.

So lets get started with topic 1.    

In our role as a leader, we are surrounded by key stakeholder groups. 

At home with family members and the broader community or social networks – i.e., friends, church, clubs, etc. as well as with our working environment – be it from our team or peers, our customers, our boss or even more senior management, the company itself and even our suppliers. 

People or organizations that with varying expectations and needs from us and our limited capacity are limited by time, resources, competence and so on. 

Perhaps these limitations are known by some stakeholders, but this typically only heightens their concerns about our ability or willingness to satisfy those expectations.

It helps, therefore, that you as the leader are able to realize your shortcomings in order to communicate with and manage these stakeholders successfully.

A useful starting point in managing stakeholders is incorporating a method referred to as the “Circle of Influence.” This tool enables us to sort and cluster our stakeholders, thereby making sense of the chaos. 

We can develop strategies and actions necessary to manage or support these groups or individuals. 

It’s a particularly useful approach for less experienced leaders who feel overwhelmed by the events and the volume of demand. 

Once clustered, we review each group to determine if they are supporters or perhaps detractors. This is powerful knowledge that we can utilize to determine the best strategy for working together successfully in the future. 

Our aim should be to expand this Circle of Influence & encompass as many of those in the Circle of Concern as possible– particularly those “critical of us.”

We’ll include several links with the transcript notes for people interested in researching this stakeholder concept and tools. 

Let’s now look closer at each of the stakeholder groups and touch on those important considerations. 

There is no right or wrong order for presenting each stakeholder here. It’s definitely not my purpose to trigger heated debate about which of the groups or individuals are the more important – family versus work, customers versus team, management versus suppliers, and so forth – hopefully, if you have performed the Circle of Influence exercise, you will have assessed how this works for you. 

And without wanting to alienate anyone, I’m starting with two of my key groups, “Teams and Customers,” as they impact all leaders and mostly from within our inner circle. 

Plus, they generally have very real and immediate expectations or needs. 

Each group can be treated as equal in this regard to avoid the chicken and egg question – there’s currently good social media discussion fueling this debate without my added involvement.

The “team” is critical in that collectively, they determine your business`es success.

Therefore they need your full commitment through professional leadership and supporting, encouraging, coaching and developing them.

The 1+1 equals more than 2 principle, which definitely applies here.

Create the right environment and enable each team member to perform consistently at their peak, and the business becomes unstoppable.

Therefore, no real surprise is that in the following videos in this series, we place heavy emphasis on specifics for developing this key stakeholder group.

Similarly, with the other group, understand your customer’s needs and drive your business processes, systems, and team actions towards true focused customer centricity and success become sustainable & profitable.

There’s a wealth of evidence from successful companies to reinforce this message AND any number of ways to move in this direction, but it starts within and the commitment to realize it. 

Check out the link on our site to the “Net Promoter Score” – this is a very in-depth analysis of how you and your business can determine if your customers are promoters or detractors. It’s well worth the investment of your time to review

Moving now to the topic of work-life balance, or perhaps more specifically, work-family balance. 

Today, most leaders understand this concept and requirement, but we are not always so good at implementing it.

We know it’s critical to ensure that the family needs are addressed. All the stakeholder groups this one sticks with us through the toughest of times, encouraging, supporting, and keeping the home front together while we are often away, traveling, entertaining, or working long days.

Some cultures, countries, and companies seem to have found the right mix while others not. At the end of the day, you need to determine the right balance – and this does not only apply to you but also to your team.

Please give your team members an equal opportunity to strike this harmony.

Check out the link to the Jeff Bezos interview speaking about “Work-Life Harmony”. He provides an interesting take on this topic..

On the other side of the spectrum, perhaps (depending on their philosophy) is your immediate boss.

As one of the key stakeholders for you and your team, this person (or persons as is the case in many matrix organizations today), plays a major part in the success of your career through their role modeling, support, coaching, and guidance.

Most likely, they were influential in you being in the role you are in today, so it makes a lot of sense that you establish the ground rules early with this stakeholder  –

  • What are they expecting
  • How would they prefer to receive communication
  • At what frequency?
  • Are there any do’s and don’ts?

One of the worst outcomes we see is from the leader who chooses to ignore this step. 

They believe that their boss will see their level of commitment, effort, and determination through their actions (which might be true). Still, in the end, they fail because they didn’t establish that clarity, connection, and trust through rigorous dialogue first. 

So, the opportunity for you now is to go knock on your boss’s door and set up a one-on-one chat – it’s never too late.

Onto our 3rd grouping of stakeholders – Peers and Suppliers, an interesting duo. 

We clustered them on the same portion of this video intentionally because there are many common dynamics which play out here through you as the leader and your interaction with them. 

And with this duo, we want you to do a little experiment. 

For this experiment, we could just as easily have chosen the final coupling of our stakeholder groups – that is, the Company and Social Networks, given your interaction frequency is normally not as regular as it is with the first 2 groupings covered. 

Less familiarity means the results will be less predictable and, therefore, easier to determine.

Many studies maintain that verbal, non-verbal, and emotional actions become “contagious.”

We’ve attached a link to a very interesting video on this subject from a Harvard researcher, ….  so please take the time to watch it. 

In short, the studies suggest that your body language, the questions you ask, and the emotions you express during that communication have a tremendous impact on how others react and interact with you. 

For me, this strikes an accord, as my own experience is that we react to someone based on how we perceive them. 

Therefore, we would like you to try the following yourself and monitor your peers’ and your suppliers’ reactions.

The first test is through body language using your hands and face to support your expression

  • . When greeting someone, ensure that your hands are visible and open at all times and use hand gestures while speaking. 
  • Also, make sure you are smiling authentically (watch the video to understand that in greater detail). 

Now try the reverse with a different colleague – hide the hands and don’t smile. 

Which of the two methods created the warmest and most charming atmosphere? How was the conversation and body language of your colleague?

For the second experiment, repeat the non-verbal gestures

  • visible, open hands, and warm, friendly smile.

but this time, choose your conversation questions more carefully and do this twice, 

  • the 1st time using topics related to enjoyable events or situations – “do you planned any vacations?” 
  • the 2nd time using mundane questions tends to be more work-related – such as “been busy lately?” 

Gauge the difference in response. We’re pretty sure the results will be quite clear. Reinforces our series opening comments about the importance of being an effective communicator, doesn’t it?  

And now to our final 2 stakeholder groups – those that are not directly related to me as a leader but often have a significant impact – and sometimes when we least expect it. 

They typically sit across our Circles of Influence and Concern. 

Let’s start with the Company. This relates to those people – perhaps in our regions or HQ’s, most often they are located in a different city and maybe even another country.

Identifying and understanding how and why your role may impact them or appear on their radar enables you to maintain an awareness and be conscious of any issues which might trigger that unexpected or unforeseen reaction.

It’s also great in helping you identify how you can contribute to the company’s success by considering and seeing the bigger and broader picture.

If you struggle to identify those persons or determine which actions might have an impact, we suggest that you seek guidance from your immediate boss.

Most likely, they will be happy to help you work through this as there’s a good chance that the impact will also have some consequence for them.

As stated at the very beginning, we didn’t group the stakeholders in order of priority.

Therefore, this final stakeholder – our social network, should be seen as no less important than any others.

In fact, many times in my career, the broader community has had a tremendous influence on supporting and assisting my career.

Here’s something you could do your own research on – Have you ever heard of the term “6 degrees of separation?”

Since it was first introduced, many attempts to test and prove its viability without ever being proven emphatically.

More recently, however, through the explosion of online social media, a new dynamic has evolved.

This dynamic supported by machine learning technology is starting to illustrate that the size of your network is greatly enhanced by the inclusion of a few random acquaintances. 

And that their impact on you is often much higher than the impact through your friends.

We’ve included a couple of links in case you want to research a little deeper yourself. 

However, it does makes you stop and think, doesn’t it? 

Should I have accepted the “friend request” from that stranger the other day? What opportunity did I just miss out on as a result?  

And before closing, let’s take a moment to reflect one last time at our stakeholder groups – can you identify the one stakeholder we haven’t covered thus far – if any of you guessed “our future robotic partners,” then you are very in tune with our thinking. 

It is a reality that today and to a much larger extent very soon, we will have to work more closely with robotics utilizing the latest AI development and driving our IoT world. 

How and in exactly what capacity is becoming gradually clearer. It is certain already that this will be a factor in our lifetimes and perhaps even within the coming few years. 

Taking time to think through the connections we are making today with machines such as Siri, Alexa, household appliances and security systems, autonomous cars, and any multitude of technologies soon, and you should start to understand the point I’m making  – we are in our infancy in this field. Still, the coming explosion of interconnectedness through IoT and convergence of all technologies means our interaction and reliance on robots is almost guaranteed.

So, this provides a very brief insight into our 9 stakeholder groups. 

Each group is individually important, and collectively, they are crucial to your performance and career progression.

Please find some time to review the additional links on our site amentorscouch.com and read through the transcript blog again for greater learnings. 

As we progress into the next 5-6 topics, we turn most of our attention towards the “TEAM” stakeholder group.

The reason why is simple. If you can lock in these core learnings on these basic skills with your team and empower them by applying the knowledge and methods we’ll cover, then your foundation for success is laid and solid.

This concludes the first of our topics called “Understanding your place in the team.” In this series, “Constant change requires leaders to excel in the basics,” we will present 10 topics.

The next topic covers “Motivating your future team.” We look forward to having you join us again. 

Remember, you can also watch this video series or topic by topic on our channel Mentors Rant. We aim to release our trio on each topic (i.e., a video, podcast, and blog) every two weeks.

Looking forward to chatting again shortly.