How to get staff to do what you want

Scott Stein

Scott Stein. Source: Supplied.

As the speed of business gets faster and faster, now more than ever leaders are looking for ways to get their staff to take action.

A common complaint is ‘my people just will not do the things that I ask them to do’. Some point the finger at the attitude of the millennial generation while others say staff workloads are overwhelming.  

This issue is with leaders and their ability to delegate. In 2012, a Harvard Business Review study found almost 50% of the companies surveyed were concerned about their employees’ delegation skills — and most of them didn’t offer training on how to delegate.   

The real concern is that many leaders won’t delegate. Why? Many believe that they can do the task quicker themselves, rather than taking the time to explain it to others.

According to Carson Tate in Fast Company, many people resist because they don’t know how to delegate. After they have tried to get someone to do something without success, they remember the age-old mantra of, “if you want something done right, you need to do it yourself”. At first glance this may be true, however, if a task needs to be completed regularly, then this time quickly adds up.

A ‘delegation hack’ will help you get your staff to do what you want. By working with your direct report and creating a one-page plan together you can quickly turn this situation around.  

Start by asking the staff member what steps they believe need to be taken to accomplish the task. As they start sharing ideas, capture them on paper or a tablet. You should also contribute and guide them toward the best solution — but resist the temptation to just tell them the tasks!

After identifying the specific steps to be taken, ask them what order they think the steps should be taken and coach them on the best sequence and the reasons why. Work together to identify timeframes for each step to ensure deadlines are clear. When you start using this approach the relationship shifts from you directing them to a collaboration, with you showing support and them buying into the task that needs to be completed.

For more complex tasks ask them to identify timeframes for check-in meetings. Jayson DeMers in Inc calls this the trust but verify approach. This allows you to ensure they are still on track as well as show interest in them completing the task — without taking over. After mapping the plan, take a photo on your phone and give them the image (or sheet of paper) to use as a reference whilst implementing.   

Over time you can fast-track this delegation hack by getting staff to map their one-page plan on their own and check it with you before they start executing it.  Once you start effectively delegating the relationship will be stronger. You will have more time for your tasks and staff will be doing what you want because they want to.

NOW READ: Four questions for leaders looking to better delegate decision-making


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