A couple of days ago I learned about the 7 Levels of Delegation in the Management 3.0 book by Jurgen Appelo.
The last level of delegation (aptly named Delegate) is defined as:
You leave the decision to them and you don’t even want to know about details that would just clutter your brain.
Yes, that. Give someone a responsibility and then step away. Today I got the opportunity to talk with a manager that have a tendency to micromanage a lot and we came up with conversation template that I think was worthy remembering. I told her that she needed to delegate an area of responsibility to a manager of one of her departments. And I introduced her to the definition above. Because she’s really involved in almost everything that happens in the company right now. And a lot of the tasks depends on and wait for her.
She cringed when I told her what I wanted her to try. By doing everything, she controlled all the information to. That made her feel safe. Now I asked her to move the authority to the information, leaving decision power to someone else. That made her feel uncertain.
Side note here; I do this. Often. Especially with my kids. I am not better than anyone else on this, but this little revaluation came to me and I think it will help me.
I then remembered a little trick that I do with myself to make sure that I do in fact delegate. Remember that in the definition above it says that “I don’t even want to know about the result”.
At first that can look sloppy and maybe lazy but there’s a Jedi mind trick in there that is really powerful. And using it you can bootstrap yourself into not breaking the trust with the person you’re delegating to.
Here’s how I would approach someone with this, making the consequences of the delegation clear for both me and the person I talk to:
I want you to take responsibility over area X. I trust you to do this much better than me, so you don’t even need to report the progress or status back to me. I trust you.
For me it’s very important to use those exact words. By saying “I trust you”, twice, I make a deal with the person I talk to. And towards myself. If I later make sure that they do it as I would have done it, or ask about the progress (and ask them to go faster) or make sure they report the final state to me (so that I can sign it off as Good ™) – I break the trust. I fail them and I fail myself.
By saying “I trust you” I reinforce this for myself. And when I’m about to “go down there and check on them”, its easy to remember. Sometimes I say it out loud.
No Marcus – you trust them. Don’t go there. They are awesome.
This helps me. I hope you find it useful too.
Oh, get the Management 3.0 Workout book. It’s awesome and free.