In my consulting work, I come across many leaders who genuinely find it difficult to delegate effectively. Sometimes people assume that a lack of delegation by a leader is a power or control thing. Perhaps in some cases it is, but in the most cases there are other things that hold people back from delegating.
It’s easier if I do it myself
It’s better if I do it myself
It’s hard to ask people to do more work
We remember delegation disasters
Are there some roles or aspects of your work that you should be delegating to someone? Who? How will you do this?
|” Delegating work works, provided the one delegating works, too”
Delegating effectively has many benefits to you, your team and your organisation.
Benefits to you
Do you take on too much at work?
Are you helping team members to grow?
Benefits to the organisation
If you left the team or organisation what would happen?
Leaders should approach performance reviews with sensitivity and thoughtfulness. I have seen such reviews go in the wrong direction and cause considerable hurt and disruption in people’s lives. Here are some of the things that I have observed that can undermine and derail the process.
Starting with the outcomes
Sometimes leaders approach reviews with their minds already set on the outcomes. Sometimes performance reviews are used to get rid of staff. If you are starting off with the end in mind, this will colour and bias the process.
Involving the wrong people
It is important to use people who can approach the process with tact and accuracy. They need to know what they are doing?
Asking the wrong people
Performance reviews should involve feedback from relevant people and not just anyone who has an axe to grind. Also, there is a fine balance between asking too few and too many people for the assessment. I have seen reviews carried out that seemed to ask everyone in a 50 km radius to be involved. Ask only those who are necessary to make an accurate assessment.
Minor issues escalated
I have seen this situation a number of times when a small issue that is raised somewhere in the review process becomes escalated and dominates the discussion. Keep the negative comments in perspective.
Processes which are too cumbersome
Some reviews take too long, involve too many aspects and produce too much information. If the length of the review process is drawn out, this adds considerable angst to the person being reviewed. Have a clear timeline and give the person feedback as soon as possible.
Done at the wrong time
Leaders should think about the best time to do a review. Asking for 360 degree feedback before the office Christmas party and giving the results on the day the person is ready to go on holidays may not be the most fruitful.
Not communicated well
The personal is left confused
Sometimes the person who is receiving the summary of the findings isn’t quite sure whether they should be excited or packing their bags. Communication of the results should be clear and concise.
No opportunities given to discuss and challenge the results
If there are some performance issues highlighted, it is important to allow people to have a chance to ask questions and perhaps give some more input in their defence.
Breaches in Confidentiality
As staff can feel quite vulnerable in the process, it is essential to maintain confidentiality.
Sometimes people are given some fairly challenging feedback and are just left there to work it out. It is important to be working with staff in their development and not just giving them a list of areas to improve in.
Performance reviews are only effective if they are accurate. White washing problems or unnecessary negativity will mean that the review has not done what it was supposed to. Sometimes reviews miss the elephant in the room, the big unspoken issue.
Often I see organisations going to extremes with their evaluations of their staff. One extreme is the organisation that has no performance review process or culture. The other is the over-reliance on huge drawn-out processes of review. These huge reviews can take months and can involve considerable time, resources and costs. Many people are asked a lot of questions and this is collated and presented as the review findings.
Although these yearly or bi-annual reviews can be very productive, they should be done in conjunction with lots of smaller conversations taking place throughout the year. This enables staff to respond to ongoing feedback about their work rather than wait for the big rating at the end of the year. Performance management is aided by regularly asking these three basic questions.
1. What has been going well for you?
It is very important to see feedback reviews as an opportunity to affirm and congratulate. It will make the review process more rewarding and effective to start with questions like:
How have you been able to use your strengths in the past month?
What have been your main wins?
What aspects of your work have been the most rewarding to you?
Then also share specific examples of high performance and good attitudes that the person has been displaying.
2. What could you be doing better?
Then it is important to identify and reflect on any areas where improvement would be helpful. This can be in terms of work produced, attitudes or how well they work in the team context. It is important to first ask the person what they think these areas may be. When sharing your observations, it is helpful to use real examples which serve as a case study for the behaviours in question.
The review should not only identify these areas but also work to create plans of action and growth goals.
3. What can we do to help you?
It is the organisation’s role to help the team member to move ahead. People appreciate a collaborative approach which asks what can be done to assist the person in building on their strengths and also tackling those areas needing improvement.
Three challenges that can come from these questions are:
What is your process for doing performance reviews with your team members?
What could you be doing better to give your team members feedback about their performance?
” An ounce of performance is worth pounds of promises” Mae West
Healthy teams and organisations regularly assess their effectiveness. This provides opportunities for healthy encouragement and also examination of areas requiring improvement. When conducting evaluations, leaders should consider what biases they are bringing with them. Some unhelpful biases are:
Perfectionist leaders usually operate at a very high level of quality. They have very high standards for themselves and others in the team. When it comes to evaluating others, perfectionists may concentrate on the areas of deficiency and imperfection in others. Although areas of under-performance do need to be addressed, healthy evaluations should also highlight the positives. While excellence is a great goal, perfectionists need to be realistic as they review the performance of other “mere mortals”, otherwise they will feel that their work is never good enough.
Peace at all costs
Some leaders get very nervous about evaluation time. Things are going so smoothly, why rock the boat? By this approach, the evaluation will have no teeth and be almost useless. If the evaluation is done properly and with care and respect, then there is a lesser chance of conflict. However, conflict can never be ruled out and is a necessary part of growth and development.
Who am I to judge?
Some leaders are reluctant to evaluate others as they feel that it will come back to them. In pointing out work areas in others, they feel vulnerable and that people will think they are on their high-horse and being judgemental when they, too, have things to consider. The answer to this is twofold. Firstly, you are the leader, therefore it’s your job to evaluate. Secondly, leaders must enter an evaluation process with an openness to also have some things pointed out to them. The leader who is serious about personal growth will welcome this.
Rose coloured glasses
“Everything is wonderful” leaders genuinely see the world through rose coloured glasses. They note only the good things and are always talking up the performance of the team. They either deliberately or inadvertently don’t take indications of under-performance and warning signs seriously. Typically, their communication is full of the amazing and wonderful things that are happening. The problem with this is that if the ship is sinking, rose coloured glasses won’t keep the team out of the water.
What biases do you bring to evaluations?
What biases is your organisation prone to?
|” I never expect to see perfect work from imperfect man” Alexander Hamilton|