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Am I the Reason My People Have No Initiative?

Leader: “I can’t get my team to take initiative and take charge of projects.  They won’t just jump in and “do it”.  How can I get them to grab the reigns and take charge.”

Me: “What’s been your previous pattern of delegating authority?”

Leader: “Huh?”

Me: “Do you have a history of delegating authority and tasks to your people?”

Leader: “No, I haven’t in the past, but I’m starting to do it now.”

Me:  “Well this explains why they won’t take charge and just jump in.”  Let me explain.

Your team feeds off of your behavior and your patterns – they know you, they watch you.  If you have a pattern of just doing it yourself, you know the old saying “by the time I show somebody else how to do it, I might as well do it myself” –  you can’t be surprised when they don’t jump in to do a job that you NOW want them to do.  Every time you didn’t delegate a task to your team, that should have been delegated, you were telling them, “I don’t have confidence in you” – that was your pattern.  So this is new territory for them – you can’t expect them to just do it.  For those leaders who have seen the “delegation light” and want to now realize all the benefits of creating an environment where your team members can exhibit their competency and skills through delegation, here are a few things you are ABLE to do:

  1. Reintroduce yourself to your team: Bring everyone together and introduce the new you.  Acknowledge the new pattern of behavior you are committing to, and also share why you are doing this. Acknowledge that this is new and there will be a transition period for everyone – you have to get used to delegating and they have to get used to receiving.  You’re restoring trust at this point.
  2. When you delegate be very clear regarding roles, responsibilities and expectations.  For instance, ensure the individuals you delegate to, have the capacity to perform the task at hand.
  3. If you want something a certain way, let them know.  Don’t make people “guess” to figure out how you want something done. If you have specific imperatives that must be met, let them know up front.
  4. Let them know where there’s room for flexibility, imagination and creativity.  Let them be flexible, imaginative, and creative.
  5.  Finally throughout the delegation process communication must be clear, concise, and consistent.    You may not want to wait til the end to see what’s been done – create a space where you can check-in with each other without anyone feeling disempowered on one end or disturbed on the other.

Remember this “delegation thing” is new to you and to them.  Every time you delegate with confidence, they have the opportunity to demonstrate competence.  This becomes a powerful  cycle that leads to greater confidence and competence.

Want to learn more?? Take a look at TWG_retreats to see how we can help you and your team improve your performance over time.

CW

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2 Comments

  1. Nita Brown July 26, 2013 at 11:18 am #

    Excellent points! For both ‘newbies’ and experienced leaders. Thanks, Charles!

    • Charles July 26, 2013 at 11:50 am #

      You’re welcome Nita. Glad it’s helpful.

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