CIO Success: Effective Delegation

Michael Beck, Executive Coach & Business Strategist | 1/22/2013 | 44 comments

Michael Beck
Recently, I wrote about time management and the need to stop putting out fires. Effective delegation can be a springboard to success both for you as CIO and the people to whom you delegate, and can be a major time management tool for a busy executive.

First of all, delegating appropriate tasks simply allows you to accomplish more. You leverage your time and it frees you to work on tasks that no one else can do. Secondly, delegating allows you to work on the bigger picture rather than getting bogged down in day-to-day routine tasks. And finally, effective delegation allows you to develop people by expanding their expertise, their independence, and their areas of responsibility.

But delegating poorly can lead to trouble. There's nothing worse than delegating a task and having it done wrong, done poorly, or worse, not done at all. Here are the three keys to master in order to delegate effectively:

Choose the right tasks to delegate
Clearly not all tasks are good candidates for delegation. A good rule of thumb is that you need to be cautious about delegating any task that requires judgment. Conversely, any task that does not involve judgment is generally a good candidate. It's not that the other person can't make a decision, but you are in the position you're in because someone trusts your judgment and ultimately the responsibility falls on your shoulders.

Select the right individual for the task, and ensure they have the appropriate tools and knowledge.
Choose the person whose talents match the skill set required by the task and ensure they are properly equipped. If you suspect they may not have what they need, make sure they know who to go to or where to find the proper information and/or tools.

Provide ongoing communication and create accountability.
In order to ensure that your deadline is met and the work is being done properly, it's important to be certain the other person fully understands the assignment. (Have them repeat it back to you.)

Additionally, check in on the progress of the assignment and hold them accountable to the deadline. Regardless of whether they "should" be on track or not, a missed deadline falls on your shoulders. You're the one who will ultimately feel the stress of and pay the price for a missed timeline. In addition, if you state that a task is important but then neglect to give it the attention it deserves, it reflects on your integrity. It demonstrates that you will say one thing but do another. Do what you say you will do and say what you mean to say.

But let's face it -- even with our best efforts, sometimes things still go wrong. A task is done incorrectly or a deadline is missed. What happens then? The first step is to understand why things went wrong. As a leader, the first place to look is in the mirror. You need to determine whether your instructions were, in fact, as clear as you thought they were. If not, then you know what to do next time you delegate. And the responsibility for causing and fixing the current mess up falls squarely on your shoulders.

If you were clear in your communication, then you need to have a discussion with the other person so you can properly assess the cause(s) of the breakdown. Did they lack the skills they needed and said they had? Did they allow less important tasks to take priority over yours? Did they get overwhelmed by their workload at the wrong time?

By identifying the cause of the problem, you can coach them how to handle the issue next time it happens. It becomes a perfect opportunity to help them grow. And because the problem was due to them and their skills, judgment, and/or communication, they still need to be held accountable for completing the task. Send them off to complete it on their own (or with your help) in a timely and accurate manner, checking in with you throughout the effort until it's completed.

Effective delegation will leverage your time and your efforts. It helps to develop your team, and makes them more valuable, more productive, and more loyal. If you want to boost your productivity as a CIO, spend more of your time on efforts that move you, your department, and your company forward, and less time on tasks that are administrative.

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Pubudu   CIO Success: Effective Delegation   2/12/2013 10:04:46 PM
Re: More thoughts on delegation...
To have a cup of tea with subordinates will solve many issues. This is where they will have courage to express their ideas  & Thoughts.
Susan Nunziata   CIO Success: Effective Delegation   1/30/2013 5:40:32 PM
Re: More thoughts on delegation...
@Dave: Ok, but be warned: they only drink fresh brewed espresso made from beans ground in a hand-cranked grinder. Every hour. You may have to hire a barista. I don't think that's covered by our T&E policy. 
Pubudu   CIO Success: Effective Delegation   1/30/2013 11:43:49 AM
Re: don't forget training
Tks, My daughter.

True, in the start it will difficult to do the training with the time

But training is an a investment

Basically training needs should identify by the CIO of his team and he should be the main facilitator for the training.
David Wagner   CIO Success: Effective Delegation   1/29/2013 3:12:12 PM
Re: More thoughts on delegation...
@Susan- works for me. I'll be expecting them. I'll even make coffee.
Susan Nunziata   CIO Success: Effective Delegation   1/29/2013 12:26:37 AM
Re: don't forget training
@Naisimson: Absolutely true. Training, documented best practices and a hub where anyone can find processes and procedures are all key. In my experience, far too few people do this, and even fewer workplaces cultivate an environment where this kind of discpline is encouraged. 
Susan Nunziata   CIO Success: Effective Delegation   1/29/2013 12:24:01 AM
Re: More thoughts on delegation...
@nasimson: Thanks! Now, let's all be careful out there and hope we never have to actually put the "hit by a bus rule" into effect. 
Susan Nunziata   CIO Success: Effective Delegation   1/28/2013 11:58:18 PM
Re: More thoughts on delegation...
@Dave: Do not leave your house. Ever. At least, not until I can find a UC Berkeley student to send over and become your second brain. :)
David Wagner   CIO Success: Effective Delegation   1/28/2013 11:36:12 PM
Re: More thoughts on delegation...
@Susan- I love the "hit by a bus rule" but now I'm frightened to leave my house because I know I'm really bad at sharing information and getting stuff off my hard drive and onto public spaces. Clearly I need an intern or someone to delegate to. *hint hint* :)
David Wagner   CIO Success: Effective Delegation   1/28/2013 11:34:40 PM
Re: don't forget training
@Pubudu- Love your profile pic!

I agree that training is a must, but one truth of every enterprise is that when you're delgating because time is tight, training is impossible And time always seems tight. I wonder who you delgate the training to?
Pubudu   CIO Success: Effective Delegation   1/28/2013 11:23:33 PM
Re: don't forget training
Yes, Training is a must

Most important thing is when training the people the big picture of a entire task should emphasize, and also the importance of the each and everyone's contribution to the task should emphasize.
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