Delegation and Task Relevant Maturity
Generally, there are three levels of competence, and your delegation style and technique should vary according to which level the individual possesses. We refer to this principle as Task Relevant Maturity.
1. Low Task Relevant Maturity
The individual with low task relevant maturity has little experience in the requisite field. He may be a new employee, or at least new to this job, and must be managed accordingly. In such a case, you will use a directive style of delegation. Carefully explain the task being assigned, the intended outcome and the required resources, assuring the person the latter will be made available. Then outline each step in the process, asking them to take notes and ask questions. After the individual has prepared and signed the written performance agreement, you must then carefully monitor the process. In other words, you will instruct them to perform the first step and then report back to you. Next, inspect the work just accomplished to ensure it has been satisfactorily completed. Offer constructive feedback to help them learn from any mistakes they may have made. Then repeat this cycle for each of the remaining steps until the delegated task has been completed to your satisfaction. Finally, debrief the entire process with the person, offering feedback and encouragement and seeking feedback yourself as to how they experienced the process, what was learned from the experience and how they might improve at it the next time. Remember, the objective is first, to get the job done and also to develop an effective, competent and confident employee.
2. Medium Task Relevant Maturity
The individual with medium task relevant maturity has probably been in this position for some time, either with you or in a previous job. They have demonstrated a certain level of competency in performing tasks similar to the one you are currently delegating and has earned your trust. Nevertheless, their experience may be somewhat limited and their judgment and task-related knowledge still developing. In this case, you will use a management by objectives style of delegation. Clearly explain the goals and objectives – the what – of the assigned task and then ask the person to figure out how they can accomplish it and come back to you with a plan. The onus is on them to determine the steps and the required resources. Monitor progress by periodic reports that have been agreed to at critical points along the completion chain. Otherwise, encourage them to come to you only when stuck or confused. Avoid the trap of reverse delegation or upward delegation, where the person to whom you have delegated the task comes to you with a problem or challenge and you respond, “Leave it with me. I’ll handle it.” This can be a huge temptation, especially if you are rushed and know it will take less time to do it yourself than to work with the individual to help them solve the problem themself. At such a time, remember your goal: to get the job done and to develop an effective, competent and confident employee. Your job is that of coach and mentor. Keep in mind, time spent helping the employee to think through problems and arrive at workable solutions will pay enormous dividends down the road.
3. High Task Relevant Maturity
The individual with high task relevant maturity has a great deal of experience in the requisite field. They might be described as an expert, possibly bringing an expertise in the area superior even to your own. In this case, you will use a leadership style of delegation. Focus on gaining a clear agreement on the end objective, make it clear that they will be held accountable for the results and then grant them the authority to make the decisions required to get the job done. Then step aside and give them the room to perform. Clearly, this level of delegation depends not only on the task relevant maturity of the individual but also on a high level of trust between each of you – trust based on experience in working together on similar projects in the past.
As you continue to grow in your career, continue to look for ways to leverage yourself through delegation. Apply the concept of task relevancy and watch your productivity increase while also contributing to the growth of those around you. The results will be truly remarkable.
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The purpose of this business report is to help focus your attention on those areas of your life that will change your life forever. This act of observing – focusing upon – these critical life elements ensures maximum return on your investment of time and energy.