My formal management and leadership training meant getting my bachelor’s degree at the USAF Academy, one of the foremost American institutions for training leaders. But the real knowledge about good delegation techniques and bad came from a career in sales and marketing management then owning a small business. I then got the ‘graduate’ course from experiences consulting.
Observing the good and bad ways clients delegated, I saw far more often assigning being done rather than delegating. It taught me a lot about the importance of delegating the S.M.A.R.T. way. In fact, I learned this acronym from fellow consultants so I have no idea who originated its use. Regardless, it works. The steps are as follow:
- Results Oriented
- Time Specific
Delegating correctly takes self-discipline because you must take the time to actually give her the specific details about the delegated role:
- Who is she responsible for and who is on her team?
- What – Explain what you want done clearly
- Where – Is there a specific location involved, like a party or new product launch?
- Why – The old “because I’m the boss and I said so” lacks the ability to inspire. People are more inclined to commit when you get them to buy into the “why” for this project.
- How much – what is her budget for this job?
How you are going to use to measure performance, i.e. what is result you expect in a measurable way?
- Dollars, e.g. savings, profit, on budget
Too often in an effort to get something off our plate, we tend to assign something to the first available person without a review of his qualifications and the reality of whether the job is attainable. If it’s not, we set him up for failure. Are the following realistic?
- Time frame
- Resources and materials
- He possesses the knowledge, skills, or expertise needed
Results Oriented Avoid micromanaging by focusing on the results instead of the specific activities. On the other hand, good delegating still requires follow up and being available to coach when she needs help past a hurdle. You can delegate authority to do the job but ultimately as the small business owner or executive, you are still responsible for ensuring it got done.
Time Specific When – This covers the deadline for completion but also the benchmark dates for progress reports.
By now in management circles using this acronym is sort of a cliché. Nevertheless, I find it very effective to teach new supervisors and manager as well as the small business owners to delegate the S.M.A.R.T. way as these steps lead to results. Your employees grow in their abilities while you become more effective as a leader and achieve more than you can doing it all yourself.
More from this contributor: First Person: Small Business and the Challenge of Delegating First Person: The Financial Wisdom of Delegating First Person: Enlightened Self-Interest and Small Business Management