No doubt it’s frustrating when an employee does a lousy job on work you assigned him or her. As the manager, you often have to spend time revising the work, cleaning up your employee’s mistakes and taking blame for the unsatisfactory work from your own boss.
That is why so many first time managers refuse to delegate. After all, it’s easier to just do the work yourself because you know it will be done correctly, right? Wrong. When you fail to delegate, you limit the time you can focus on big-picture thinking and planning. In addition, you rob your employees of valuable learning and growth opportunities.
Besides, if an employee botches an assignment, you just may be the reason why. It’s your job to provide employees with the training and directions needed to complete their work, and it’s your job to establish clear expectations for every task you delegate. So if your employees regularly fail to meet your expectations, you may need to improve how you delegate tasks.
While some employees will simply fail, if you follow this advice, you increase the odds that they won’t:
Adapt to employees’ needs
Some employees can retain everything they need to meet your expectations from verbal instructions. Others need you to write directions down. Some employees need a hands-on demonstration, while others will want you to provide specific examples or anecdotes. Figure out which approach will work best for each employee, and if you can’t figure it out on your own, ask employees how they want to receive directions from you.
Many of your staff members won’t speak up when they are confused. They’ll pretend they know what to do because they don’t want you to think they are incompetent or unintelligent. Encourage employees to ask questions by saying “What questions do you have about this assignment?” If they don’t ask any, say something like “One of the common questions other employees have asked is …” to prompt them to open up. If they feel others have been confused about the work, too, they will be more inclined to ask questions.
Check for understanding
A simple “Do you understand what to do?” won’t cut it because employees may be inclined to say “Yes” even when they are unclear about what to do next. Instead, ask employees to paraphrase to you the goals of the project, state the deadline and list their next steps to confirm their understanding.
Do not wait until a deadline to determine whether an employee took over an assignment successfully. Check in regularly with a quick email, call or visit to ensure that employees are progressing as needed. Review their work up to that point to confirm accuracy and to evaluate whether they are on the right track to hit their deadlines or goals.
Employees are going to mess up. If you lash out at them every time they make a mistake, they will start hiding their errors. When employees fall short of expectations, take the time to coach or train them so that they don’t make the same mistake twice.
Sometimes, the problem is with the work you chose to delegate. Some work should always remain yours. Find out what you should never delegate by watching this video: