Brad Wolff | PEOPLEMAX
IN A PREVIOUS article, The Principles of Delegation, 3PL Perspectives, April 2021, I explained why effective delegation is a critical strategy for your success. I also elaborated on delegation steps 1 & 3 listed below:
Step 1: Clarity on what tasks you’re delegating and what the finished product should look like
Step 3: Clarity on what training and supervision is required and who will provide each of these
This article is devoted to Step 2: Clarity on whom to delegate the tasks to. Poor execution on this step is a frequent cause of frustration for leaders who do Steps 1 & 3 well but still experience subpar results. You need to delegate tasks to people whose innate characteristics align with the tasks they’re asked to perform. For example, if you delegate detail-oriented tasks to non-detail-oriented people, you’ll experience poor results.
Think about yourself for a moment. There are probably things that you’re not good at and don’t enjoy doing. How well would you perform these tasks if you were required to do them regularly?
This is like an athletics coach who puts people into specific sports and positions based on their physical characteristics. Tall, thin people on the basketball team, for example. Unfortunately, mental attributes are not directly visible. A high-quality assessment is the most simple, accurate way to measure these traits. Delving into the plusses and minuses of different assessment tools is beyond the scope of this article.
When interpreting assessment results, understand that the higher people are in a given characteristic, the lower they are in the opposite of that characteristic. For example, the higher a person is in detail-orientation, the lower they are in big-picture awareness. People in the “mid-ranges” for multiple traits have a greater range of duties they can effectively perform. They often become a “jack of all trades and master of none.”
There are no good or bad assessment results. Every characteristic is beneficial for some jobs and harmful for others. Your job is to delegate tasks to the right people based on alignment between tasks and the innate characteristics of your delegates. Management guru Peter Drucker said, “The task of a manager is to make people’s strengths effective and their weaknesses irrelevant.”
Putting These Principles into Action:
The remainder of this article applies terminology from one assessment tool measuring four distinct categories of employee strengths or energies. All people have some propensity for each type of energy but differ in degree:
- Doer energy: Energy focused on taking action to get things done now
- People energy: Energy focused on communicating and connecting with people
- Analytical energy: Energy focused on thinking and analyzing to solve and prevent problems
- Detail energy: Energy focused on details to provide useful, accurate information
Steps to Apply the Assessment Results
1. Look at the score or percentile for each energy. The below information provides a guide on how much time people want to spend in a given energy:
- Highest-level: 95th percentile or above–almost always
- High-level: between 75th – 94th percentile–ordinarily and regularly
- Mid-level: between 26th – 74th percentile–moderate amount
- Low-level: between 6th – 25th percentile–infrequently with some effort
- Lowest-level: typically, between 1st – 5th percentile rarely with lots of effort
2. Consider the difference between scores. The greater the difference between one energy score and another, the harder it is to make a shift. For example, if a person’s highest (primary score) is “highest level analytical” and second highest (secondary score) is “mid-level doer,” it’s difficult for them to shift from analysis to action. If they were high-level analytical and mid-level doer, it would be much easier to make the same shift.
3. Additional considerations in delegating tasks:
- Consider the frequency of shifts you’re asking people to make from one energy to another since each shift causes a focus loss. This is especially true when people constantly shift back and forth in tasks (multi-tasking). It’s best to stay in one energy for significant blocks of time before moving to a different energy.
- It’s OK to spend a small amount of time doing things that we don’t enjoy. The key is to keep the misaligned tasks to a minimum, not eliminating them altogether.
THE TASK OF A MANAGER IS TO MAKE PEOPLE’S STRENGTHS EFFECTIVE AND THEIR WEAKNESSES IRRELEVANT.
Delegation Based on Innate Wiring (Energy Profiles)
Doer Tasks: Tasks that produce tangible output instead of tasks focused on ideas, concepts, and discussion. People who are high in Doer Energy hate to end the day without measurable accomplishments. People who are low in Doer Energy usually find great excuses for not acting.
Takeaway: When you need someone to get a lot of things done even if it’s not clear on how, delegate to people who have high Doer energy since they thrive on productive output.
People Tasks: Tasks related to communicating and connecting with people via phone, video, and in-person. Email and texting are not connecting tasks. People who are high in People Energy tend to get energy from positive interactions with others.
Takeaway: When you need someone, who likes to talk and interact with others, delegate to people who have high People Energy.
Analytical Tasks: Tasks focused on observing, assessing, thinking, and analyzing. This includes strategic thinking to develop processes and systems to solve and prevent problems. People who are high in Analytical Energy want to solve new problems and move on. They get quickly bored with repetitive work.
Takeaway: When you need someone to solve challenging conceptual problems and develop processes and systems to do things more efficiently and effectively, assign to people with high Analytical Energy.
Detail Tasks: Tasks focused on providing quality, accurate information to make good decisions. This includes performing repetitive tasks with minimal mistakes and gathering information through reading and research.
Takeaway: When you need someone to do detail-oriented, repetitive work or research to find solutions (instead of figuring it out through observation and analysis), assign to people with high Detail Energy.
In summary, there’s no substitute for delegating tasks to people who are wired for those tasks. When you implement a process to put this principle into action, you’ll make more money with less stress and have happier people.
Image credit: VITALII VODOLAZSKYI/SHUTTERSTOCK.COM