Monthly Archives: January 2015

3 steps to delegation

It is easy, especially in tough times, for leaders to feel responsible for absolutely everything that happens in their team. It is highly likely that conscientious, well-meaning leaders will hinder his or her team’s performance by taking on too much. It’s time to think differently. While leading from the front is a noble intention, consider this: employees can benefit from an absence of command-and-control leadership. If managers can step to one side and delegate effectively, those in their team may not drift aimlessly, but instead begin to show their own creativity.

“Delegation” does not managers sit in their chairs, doing nothing while keeping their fingers crossed. Delegation is more about leading whilst avoiding unnecessary day-to-day details. A leader’s job is not to do the tasks themselves but to help other people to do them. His or her role is to akin to being both a “facilitator” and an “orchestrator”. The role of “facilitator” means helping staff to get things done, rather than interfering. The role of “orchestrator” means organising the team members’ plans so that things go smoothly. Those leaders that can achieve this through their leadership allow their staff members to think more creatively and to move swiftly with a game plan rather than a rule book.

There are three ways for leaders to become effective delegators:-

Leaders must stretch their people to do more than they believe they can. This is not a matter of giving them more tasks to accomplish, but about encouragement through setting high expectations for them. Your team members may not like you for this at first, but will thank you for it one day.

Ask your team a lot of questions, but don’t give them the answers. It’s no good telling employees you trust them and then telling them exactly how to accomplish a task. Questioning sets the tone in helping you help them do this for you – when a member of your staff asks you what to do in a given situation, respond by asking what he or she thinks should be done. Then discuss the idea, give your opinions when asked but carefully hand back to them the responsibility for finding an agreed solution.

Understand that delegation does not mean abdication. Every leader needs to have a measure of control, for example, by developing the meeting agenda. But an agenda allows employees a chance to say whatever they like within that framework. Staff will feel that they are able to report progress rather than face an inquisition. This form of “loose-control” allows you to head off problems before they happen without squashing the autonomy of those working for you.

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Merriborn Media is a business dedicated to developing clever content, engaged online communities and effective collaborative working and learning for clients. Both Merriborn Media and its founder Trevor Merriden were ranked in the Top 3 of social learning evangelists for 2016 in a recent major study.

Do you know how to think strategically?

Being able to think strategically is a valuable career skill. To think strategically means that we are opening our minds to thinking in an alternative way about something: understandably, that can feel difficult sometimes.

The truth is that to do this we need to be good at “thinking”. This is very different from being “clever”: once we’ve mastered the skill (and it is a learnable skill) of thinking strategically about challenges, it can become your platform and source of expertise within a business. It allows you (and those around you) then to behave strategically in dealing more effectively with everyday issues.

At the heart of all this, we also need to understand the difference between thinking “slow” and thinking “fast”. There’s nothing wrong with thinking “slow” – quite the reverse: this is expertise-building that allows us to organise and access a body of evidence about our business or personal lives. Thinking “fast”, by contrast, is about rapid decision making that we might have to do when we’re forced to recognise new patterns or respond to emotional urges.

We move rapidly between the two worlds of course not least because they reinforce each other. The need for both will never change, but what is changing is the balance required between the two. We read that the business world is “uncertain” and this means fast-thinking is increasingly in demand. Let’s not forget the importance of slow-thinking – thinking strategically is under pressure but of more value than ever.

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Merriborn Media is a business dedicated to developing clever content, engaged online communities and effective collaborative working and learning for clients. Both Merriborn Media and its founder Trevor Merriden were ranked in the Top 3 of social learning evangelists for 2016 in a recent major study.