The Business Coach with Laura Murphy: “Delegating doesn’t work”

Share this article

Question: “I delegated stuff to a new staff member but they’re not doing it right and I now feel I need to take it back, although we got them in because I’m overloaded. What should I do?” Peter

Answer: “Quite often what you think is “right” is merely your way of doing things rather than the “only” way to do things. The work that this person has been asked to do, from what you told me, is a mix of activities that have to be accurate for legal and financial reasons, and others.

Remember why it was agreed to invest considerable time and money in employing someone. You were getting stressed, the quality of the work was declining and the customers were complaining. So before you take any of it back consider what it is they are doing “wrong” and split it into one or the other groups. For the moment, forget that which doesn’t have to be “right” for legal and financial reasons and focus on that which does.

Consider how you’ve passed on the instructions. Were they clear – from their perspective. That’s important because what might seem obvious to you, be it use of language or approach, may not be to them. Break the tasks down and take them through one at a time, ensuring that they fully understand before moving on to another. Remember, people hear things differently. They place what you say into their own experiences and language which can distort it, so use the multi-sensory approach. It takes a little longer in the short-term but pays dividends.

Have a clear protocol or process in writing, speak to them about it, take them through flow charts or graphics and then get them to feed back to you how they think it should be done. Then let them do it whilst you keep oversight. Resist the temptation to step in when you think they’re going wrong as they will learn more quickly from their own mistakes than you jumping in. Unless of course by pressing a button on the computer it’s irretrievable in which case jump in!

Show confidence in their ability to learn which will give them the confidence to approach you when they really don’t understand. And if they genuinely can’t do a particular task then you can take it back until they’ve had the relevant training, making yourself OK to let other things slide in the meantime.

Once they’ve settled into doing the “right” things correctly, then you can consider whether the other things they are doing “wrong” really do need to be addressed or whether it’s you that needs to change your perspective on how it could be done. ”

Laura is an organisation development specialist and executive coach with mtc2 ltd and was Highly Commended in the Eastbourne Business Awards Business Person of the Year. To solve your problem email Tweet @WayfinderWoman Names and details have been changed to protect confidentiality.