Tales of Delegation
I get it, most everyone out there has experienced a change of the guards inside the shop. What once was a long-time employee you could lean on is not replaced with the guy who chose you over the line cook position at burger king. With COVID still lingering and the effects not going away for a while, you are probably staring at a list of employees who may have automotive experience but have no experience with you.
Better yet (but not really) you may have someone who stayed with you that you are leaning on more than ever before. Your duties, however, did not decrease. In fact, they probably increased to a new level. So how do you manage this delegation thing when your staff doesn’t really know you and your work style?
To work through this situation, we will need a process that we will call “ask/tell” and a fictional character called “Joe”.
This stage is by far the most common delegation stage and is the learning stage of what to do. Joe had a lot of time working in the shop and gained a lot of experiences through lots of qualified leaders. It was time for him to take on new leadership roles in the company. He needed lots of directions as he didn’t truly know what his role was and how to take on friction.
For this he needed to be told what to do. A situation came up, I would reach out to him and give him the what and why of the scenario. The what is for the action, the why is for the development. Most people stay in this step, always looking for direction and always stressing out the leader as to delegate to the “tell them” people pushes more actions on the leader. I desperately needed Joe to graduate and he was somewhat comfortable with getting the direction.
This is the learning phase of how to take action. I wanted to encourage Joe to develop problem solving skills that are still guided. In this phase, Joe could only come to me with a problem if he had come up with three possible solutions to that problem, it would start as, “This is a problem and here are a few ways I think I can fix it.”
This forced Joe to not lean on me for answers but to explore problem solving techniques in which I would approve. After he told me his options, I would discuss the pros and cons of each and we would come up with the best solution for him to take with his feedback. This is probably the hardest phase to complete as it forces the most critical thinking development.
Once I came to terms that Joe truly understood his role in problem solutions strategies, I made it clear to him that he no longer asked for permission to fix a problem. At this point, Joe would begin seeing problems, identifying solutions, matching the solutions and taking action. If I saw an action being made, I would ask him what he was doing, in which he would report it to me. If I did not agree with it, I would insert feedback and ask him to correct it (without telling him what to do). Emotionally, this can be challenging for both. The leader has to let go a lot of controls and trust in someone to do the job. The delegated person has been granted lots of power but is constantly questioned on their motives.
Don’t Ask/Don’t Tell
The ultimate goal has been met. Joe has understood my work style, learned how to identify problems and troubleshoot problems with my methods in mind, he has passed all quizzes on what he was doing when I caught him working on a project. Now is the best feeling in the world. Joe is a true leader who can handle things the way I need them to be handled. I can assign something with little direction and I don’t need him to ask me what to do, I don’t need to tell him what is the best option, I don’t have to go check on him when he is working. Joe is a true leader with exceptional leadership skills. I don’t ask, and he doesn't tell. We all win.
Although this is a lot harder in the short term than just doing it yourself, the goal is not to get an item done, it is to build a leader. Leaders, no matter what position they hold in a company, are a valuable asset to you. It is your business, responsibility and legacy that teaches leadership. And it is far more important than a big ticket average.