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The Three Levers of Delegation Hydraulics (part 3 of 3)

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Managing Others
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By Tom Davidson

I had been telling myself for years “old-school” stories about how it was “better” to split wood by hand, including ideas like it was healthier, more independent and pioneer-like, and that represented the fact that I was still young and strong. What does this have to do with delegation? Read below!

As described in the first two posts in this series, I gained a new perspective on delegation this holiday when I made the leap from hand-splitting my firewood pile to renting a hydraulic wood splitter. 

I had been telling myself for years “old-school” stories about how it was “better” to split wood by hand, including ideas like it was healthier, more independent and pioneer-like, and that represented the fact that I was still young and strong. These represented an attitude the kept me from taking a different approach. But the fact was that it was taking more time than I really had available for the chore, and the trouble and toil could be spent on more important and satisfying tasks. 

What does this have to do with delegation? 

  1. Mindset – The biggest hurdle to delegating our work to others is our own attitude; the self-induced need to do the job one’s self rather than appropriately relying on others.
  2. Skills – The understanding that delegation is not abdicating responsibility for a job, it’s using different skills to get more work accomplished and freeing one’s self to use limited time more wisely.
  3. Follow through – The need to maintain contact, care and control of an important task remains, even though the job is being done differently or by someone else.

The previous two blogs focused on mindset and skills, while today’s focus is on follow through. 

Follow through 
Whenever a woodcutter gets complacent, whether it’s using a chainsaw, a splitting maul or a hydraulic log splitter, that’s when injuries occur. Even the most experienced loggers can trust their experience a little too much and overlook the normal precautions of using the break on the saw blade, sheathing the axe when not in use, or wearing steel toes or hard hats. 

With the wood splitter, I had to be very conscious of where my hands were on the wood and the machine at all times. Without this kind of conscientious follow-through, the benefits of the mechanical help would have been significantly outweighed by injury and misery. 

The same can be said for delegation. If follow through is not thought about in advance and conscientiously executed, you may never want to delegate again! 

Here’s what you need for safe and effective follow though of delegations. Answer the following questions, either by prescribing them at the outset (which runs the risk of micromanaging) or collaborating with the person who is receiving the delegation to arrive at the answers (unless certain parameters are already known ahead of time and must be prescribed): 

– What will you do?
– When will you do it?
– How will we know it’s on track and if you need help?
– What else do you need from me for you to do this successfully?
– How will we know it was done?
– What do you plan to learn from this experience? 

Document the answers to these questions, and share them with all parties so that there is no question about the expectations or check points.  Even better, have the delegate write them down and send them back to you. This step alone will increase the odds of successful follow-through by at least an order of magnitude. 

Now that you have the mindset, skills and follow through needed for delegation, you are equipped to do your managerial duty more completely, put down your old tools and pick up your new responsibilities as a manager and a leader.


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