Delegation is Dead

We’re pleased to announce that delegation is dead, at least in high performing teams.

Ordinary teams, with their hierarchical structures are often still indulging in delegation, immediately preceded by thoughts along the lines of:

“I’m overloaded, what can I get off my plate and give to someone else”
“I’ve got to much too do myself so I’ll get so and so to do”
“It’s not important and urgent for me so I need to find someone else who can do it”

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Someone else (let’s call her Susie) might be willing to do it but that doesn’t mean it’s good for her performance or her motivation. Frequently Susie doesn’t see it as her job but just “another thing to do”. Too often in these teams, delegation is a knee-jerk decision made in a hurry that doesn’t take into account the strengths of the team members or their bandwidth.

We think it’s often a function of organisations where the overriding perspective of performance is that it’s all about the individual. Most organisations make an attempt to drive performance through well-meaning (though often deeply flawed) processes that focus on individual objectives, individual performance reviews and individual reward & recognition schemes. Much less often do organisations invest anything like enough effort in setting up teams and team performance.

That seems a bit bonkers to us as those same organisations excitedly agree that most results are delivered through teams.

So If you’re having lots of thoughts or conversations about delegation then just maybe you’ve not invested the time to set your team up right.

High performance in teams

Along with goal clarity, in great teams everyone also has role clarity. Everyone’s clear on how their role contributes to the team objectives and how their role fits with the other roles in the team. Also everyone else has the same understanding about his or her own role and how that contributes to the team. Roles throughout the team are clear, without assumptions, are accepted and are being delivered to the best of individual ability with the support of everyone else in the team.

If the team is mutually accountable for the results and performance of the team then everyone needs everyone else to be successful in their role and supports and challenges one another to that end.

With a team set up in this way (and frankly if it’s not set up that way then your “team” is not really worthy of the name), delegation is now dead.

Everyone is as concerned about other team members’ performance and capacity as they are about their own. Discussions take place all the time where team members are asking and offering support to each other because it’s the team’s performance and results that matter.

If you’re delegating then maybe you’re overwhelmed, your role and roles on the team aren’t clear and maybe you’ve never invested sufficiently in getting the team set up properly in the first place?

That’s no good for your performance, no good for your organisation’s performance and it’s no good for Susie either.