Today’s blog post continues on with our ongoing video series on effective and powerful employee motivators. The last one I gave you was Strategy #18: create a vision and sense of purpose. And today, Strategy #19 is to delegate effectively. And the key word here is “effectively”. In order for delegations to be employee motivators, they must be done “effectively”, which means something very specific in this context.
Often, managers tell me that I’d like to delegate … but my employees resist responsibility. And quite frankly, they already have more work than they can handle. In fact, the research shows that the belief that employees resist responsibility is a myth. Most staff welcome responsibility, but in order to be successful, they also need two more things in addition to responsibility. In order to fulfill the responsibility, they also need authority AND accountability. And it’s in these two areas that delegation often falls apart.
Delegate authority with responsibility
Often, managers are quick to delegate responsibility, but they either inadvertently or intentionally do not delegate the authority to act to fulfill that responsibility. For delegation to be successful, you need to give responsibility AND you need to give the authority to act to follow through on the responsibility. When you give responsibility but not the needed authority, you are setting your employees up to fail. No wonder some staff are reluctant to take on additional responsibility!
And delegate accountability
Now even if you’re thoughtful about delegating responsibility and authority, you also need to delegate a third component – accountability. Accountability consists of three sub-components – acceptance, checking in, and holding them answerable. Let’s look at each. Acceptance: the employee has to accept the responsibility and the authority. Checking in: is when you check in with the employee in a supportive manner to ensure that he or she has everything they need to get the job done. And holding them answerable: is following up if for whatever reason the employee doesn’t fulfill the responsibility as intended.
For delegation to be successful, you MUST delegate three specific items – responsibility (the job or task to be done), authority (the ability to act to fulfill the responsibility) and accountability (the closing of the loop to ensure completion and set up for an effective process the next time). Delegations can only be effective employee motivators if you delegate all three of responsibility, authority and accountability.
So … I’d like to hear about your experiences. Have you been in situations in which you’ve been delegated responsibility, but not authority and accountability? What are you doing to make sure that by inadvertently doing the same, you don’t set up your employees to fail? Please share.