Merge's Blog

Tag Archives: effective delegation

Improve your coaching skills by asking this one simple question

coachingBack in 2012, I posed this question on the blog: When your employee comes to you with a problem, do you tell or do you ask?  My point was that so many leaders have the tendency to “solve” our employees’ issues rather than coaching our employees to resolve the problems themselves.  Over the years, I have discovered one very simple, yet powerful, phrase can make the difference.  Ask: What do you think?

A powerful coaching moment

When an employee comes to you with an issue, don’t fall into the trap of thinking that you need to provide an answer.  Instead, use the opportunity to create a very powerful coaching moment.  The chances are high that your employee already has a very good idea as to what the solution should be, and only really wants to discuss it with you and get your concurrence.  When you ask “What do you think?”, you are opening the door for a dialogue that not only will lead to a solution, but will also build your employee’s self-confidence as well as enhance problem-solving skills.  Continue reading

Why you shouldn’t fall prey to “reverse delegation”

ReverseDelegationAbout a year ago, I wrote a column for Profit MagazineHow to Stop Doing Employees’ Work For Them – about how not to fall into the classic leadership trap known as “reverse delegation”, which is the natural tendency that many leaders have to “help” a struggling employee by taking back a task that’s been assigned to him/her.

Reverse delegation occurs far more often than you might realize (or that you are willing to admit), and usually strikes when you fall into the mindset of “It will be faster and easier to just do this myself.”  But it’s not good leadership … for two reasons.  First, reverse delegation doesn’t permit you to build skills and confidence in your people (a very important job for leaders), and two (and perhaps even more importantly), it simply causes your personal workload to escalate.  Continue reading

Why CEOs should not take a vacation

My latest Leadership Lab column for The Globe & Mail is up in cyberspace!

Why CEOs should not take a vacation

Executive coaches often encourage CEOs in growing organizations to work “on” their business instead of “in” their business. So far, that’s pretty good counsel, and I don’t disagree. It’s the frequent follow-up conversation that gets me all twisted up though! Advice such as “You should be able to go on a two-week vacation and never have to check back into the office; the mental break will allow you to return refreshed, ready to take your company to even greater heights” or “Your time is better spent networking at the golf course or at industry events because that is where you’ll discover new business opportunities and further build existing relationships” may sound textbook-perfect, but quite frankly it’s idiotic and a sure-fire recipe for failure. I explain further on The Globe‘s site.


Well, what you think? Are all those executive coaches right after all, or do you agree with my contrarian point of view? Please share your views directly on The Globe‘s site so that your insights are available to their significant readership. Or if you wish to comment in a more targeted way, drop me an email or send me a tweet (@mergespeaks). And please … do tell me if you speak as a CEO, an executive coach, or from another perspective.

And one last thing — do me one HUGE favour – help me get the word out … share the link with your staff and colleagues (easiest directly from The Globe‘s site using the share icon at the very top of the article). My objective is always to get the dialogue started so the more people who join in the conversation, the more I’ve succeeded in achieving my goal.

I’m looking forward to hearing from you. Here is a direct link to the article in case you need to cut and paste it elsewhere:

Overcoming reverse delegation

My latest contribution as a member of’s panel of business experts launched into cyberspace this morning. Frequent readers of the blog will recall that since May, I have been writing regular columns for the online version of Profit Magazine. And in case you didn’t know, Profit Magazine is a sister publication to Canadian business magazine giants Canadian Business, MoneySense and Macleans, so I’m pretty chuffed to be in such esteemed company. Today’s column is titled:

How to Stop Doing Your Employees’ Work For Them


It spells out how to avoid falling victim to the classic leadership trap known as “reverse delegation”, the natural tendency to offer assistance by taking back a task you’ve assigned to someone else.

Reverse delegation occurs far more often than leaders realize (or that they are willing to admit). But if you are committed to not allowing your personal workload to escalate AND to building skills and confidence in your people, then it is critical that you know how to respectfully and effectively push back when it occurs.

Take a read-through please (How to Stop Doing Your Employees’ Work For Them) and then come on back to the blog and share your thoughts. Have you fallen victim to this classic leadership trap? If not, what has been your approach to avoid reverse delegation? Please share so that we can all learn from one another.

Insist that your employees be problem solvers, not problem identifiers

ProblemSolvingSome employees are serial “problem identifiers” – they’re very good at telling you what’s wrong. Whether they’re talking about a process, a person, another department, or even their own jobs, they’re adept at pinpointing and vocalizing what is amiss. But then the unspoken assumption is that it’s your job (because you’re the boss) to fix it. And unfortunately, many managers and supervisors blindly stumble into this trap (see Why do managers have a tendency to do rather than coach? and Do you tell or do you ask?). Don’t. Make it a point to insist that your employees bring you solutions, not problems.

Require that your people become “problem solvers” instead of “problem identifiers”. Continue reading

Unable to delegate effectively? You may be the reason.

Liz-WeberLiz Weber is not only a respected business colleague and a friend, but also an in-demand coach and consultant to executive teams who need help with strategic planning, succession planning, and leadership team development.  And of course, I’m thrilled to bits that she agreed to guest on the blog today.

Are You Too Busy Being Busy?

Do you work 10, 11, or 12 hour days and never get ahead?  Do you believe the more tasks you physically do yourself, the greater your chances are you can inspire your team to do more? When that doesn’t work, do you ask yourself why no one seems to be working as hard or caring as much as you? If so, a primary reason for your frustration may be your own management style. You may be too busy being busy to effectively manage.

If you are jumping in and taking on team work or scurrying from task to task, often shifting direction, your behavior (i.e., your management style) is sending an off-putting message to others. The message you are conveying is that you are scattered and indecisive at best, or out-of-control at worst.  Most team members will recognize the message right away—and they will stay away. Continue reading

Do you tell or do you ask?

In my last blog post, I asked why so many of us have the tendency to “solve” our employees’ issues rather than coaching our employees to resolve the problems themselves. It prompted this related question: when your employee comes to you with a problem, do you tell or do you ask? Let me explain further.

Let’s say one of your employees is having trouble reconciling a client’s account. Do you tell him how to fix it, or do you ask him what he has already tried? Continue reading

Why do managers have a tendency to do rather than coach?

When an employee comes to you with a problem, what is your most likely reaction? Are you a doer – someone who jumps in and solve the problem – or are you a facilitator – someone who helps the employee get to the bottom of it on his/her own? Most managers and supervisors I talk to readily admit that they even though they know the better answer is the latter (i.e. being a coach and facilitator), they still tend to step in and take over quite quickly. So why is that? Why the tendency to take over and run the show? I think that it’s always one or more of three possible reasons: Continue reading

Delegation skills for managers and supervisors

The great folks at PDNet and CGA Canada have invited me to deliver a live webcast ” Delegation Skills for Managers and Supervisors” on Thursday September 15, 2011 at 9 AM Pacific Standard Time.   If you’ve never attended a live web event before, it’s a great way to get focused relevant learning right at your desk.  Using just your desktop or laptop computer, you’ll be able to view and hear the webcast.  Plus, a recorded version of the webcast will be available to all participants for one year.  Priced at just $169 ($129 if you’re a CGA member), it’s a steal of a deal!  REGISTRATION CLOSES 24 HOURS BEFORE THE EVENT STARTS. SO DON’T DELAY! To register, or get more information, go to

Chances are that you got to where you are today through hard work, your knowledge of your job, and your demonstrated ability to get things done.  But when you are in a role of leadership, your success is measured by different criteria … on the basis of OTHER PEOPLE’S hard work and knowledge of their jobs and through THEIR ability to get things done.  And which, let’s face it, can lead to a great deal of frustration.  This is exactly what makes delegation such a critical skill for leadership excellence.  If you know that delegation is important, BUT it makes you feel like you’re losing control AND you constantly struggle with letting go (after all, it’s faster and easier to do it yourself!), then you can’t afford not to attend this useful and amazingly practical session. I’ll show you how to get things done well through others – on time – and while still maintaining control.

Delegating effectively – why you absolutely MUST learn to let go

If you are a manager or supervisor then you are entrusted with getting things done. And as a leader, that means getting things done through other people. Your challenge: other people don’t always do things the way you would!  And that can get VERY frustrating. You likely know many of the reasons you should be delegating more effectively – you build up the capabilities and confidence of your staff, you increase employee retention, and perhaps the most compelling reason, it allows you to get more things done.  But there is one benefit of delegating that you may not have considered.  Your ability to delegate makes you more promotable. Look around you, either in your organization or another, at the people whom you admire – these are the ones who have achieved admirable degrees of success, and these are also the people who have learned to delegate well.  When you delegate, you build depth behind you, and that means that you are available for bigger and better opportunities.  So, delegation isn’t just good for your people and your organization, it’s great for you!

So, are you a good delegator?
Find out whether you have mastered the attitudes and beliefs to be a successful delegator by completing this quick ‘n’ easy self-assessment.  Let me know how you do.

How well do you delegate?