Delegating: coaching strategies to reduce your workload

Are you feeling over-worked? Are you looking to ease your load? One useful starting-point is to stop reflect on the times you’ve stepped-in to solve someone else’s problem?

It happens at work and it happens at home. You trusted someone to do a job; they seemed willing; but suddenly the problem is back in your hands. And did you then decide: Next time it will be easier to do things myself”?

This is not to deny that the ultimate responsibility may well rest with you. You may need to know the job is done properly and on time. But there are better ways to achieve that without doing everything yourself.

There are numerous reasons for getting other people involved: like sharing the load, helping them to learn and grow, making them feel good so they are more committed to your workplace and you.

If you take back the responsibility for glitches that arise, you’ve just destroyed every one of those reasons. You might like to read The One Minute Manager Meets the Monkey to see what it means always to have a monkey sitting on your shoulder.

So what is a respectful way to leave the monkey where it should be – firmly on the shoulders of the person who took on the job in the first place. A coaching approach works well – listening and asking some questions, followed by an action plan.

Obviously you want to know what the problem is; also how and why it happened, if that’s known. But there’s little point in looking to blame and you don’t need to do the leg work to discover the reasons.

Questions like “What’s the situation?” and “How are you feeling about it?” are reasonable openers.

You might ask next, to show your continuing trust and respect for their opinions: ‘What are the viable options?” and “Which one is your choice – and why?” and ‘What do you want to happen?”

Next to leave responsibility firmly and respectfully on their shoulders, and to gauge their commitment ask:
• “How willing are you to consider all the options?”
• “What are some of the steps you can take to make that happen?”
• “Would you need any assistance?” “Or extra resources?”

Lastly, as a coach we always look for an action plan, a timeline, and we extend our support, asking:
• “When can you start?”
• “What would need to happen first?”
• “Let’s touch base on a regular basis until you’ve got the issue solved; how about this time next week”.

This final question does more than extend your support of course. You need to know the job is done properly and this is a respectful, and supportive, way to follow-through.

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