A simple rule is the SMART acronym , or better still, SMARTER. It’s a quick checklist for proper delegation. These tasks must be:
Traditional interpretations of the SMARTER acronym use ‘Exciting’ or ‘Enjoyable’, however, although a high level of motivation often results when a person achieves and is given recognition for a particular delegated task, which in itself can be exciting and enjoyable, in truth, let’s be honest, it is not always possible to ensure that all delegated work is truly ‘exciting’ or ‘enjoyable’ for the recipient. More importantly, the ‘Ethical’ aspect is fundamental to everything that we do, assuming you subscribe to such philosophy.
The delegation and review form is a useful tool for the entire process.
For some more helpful tools for delegation, see the goal planning tips and template and the activity management template .
To achieve a goal or a vision you must plan how to make it happen.
You cannot ‘do’ a goal or a vision. Instead you must do the things that enable it – usually several things, in several steps.
A goal without a plan remains just a goal – many people have visions, intentions, ideas, dreams which never happen, because they are not planned.
A plan makes things happen.
Goal planning can be especially helpful in advancing your career and job hunting, or staring your own business, or becoming self-employed or freelance.
A good plan identifies causes and effects in achievable stages. These need not necessarily be very detailed or time-bound unless the aim requires it.
Having a clear aim begins to define the plan.
For example: a large-scale short-term aim requires a plan with detail and strict timescales, whereas a goal to achieve a personal life change within five-to-ten years requires much less detail and scheduling, provided the crucial causes and effects stages are identified.
Plans can also be structured in different ways according to individual preference and the various planning tools and methods which exist. Detailed people prefer detailed plans. Intuitive people prefer broader more flexible plans. The section on project management explains some of the common more complex planning methods. Also see for example the SMART planning model, which provides an excellent simple basis for outline planning. The delegation tips also refer to SMART, and these pointers are helpful for setting objectives for yourself, aside from other people. Personal goal planning for yourself is rather like delegating a responsibility to yourself, hence the relevance of the principles of delegation.
Choose a planning format that you are comfortable using – and adapt and develop it as you need.
There is no point in adopting a complex spreadsheet if you’ll not enjoy using it. Conversely, if you want to analyse lots of details, then choose a format which will accommodate this.
Whatever planing format you prefer, all plans begin as a simple outline, like the planning template provided here.
Beyond this you can add more detail and structure to suit your aims and preferences, but you must begin with a clear goal, and an outline of what will make your goal happen.
Whatever the aim, all good plans tend to include:
Note that the overall aim or vision does not have to be limited or constrained.
Where aims and visions are concerned virtually anything is possible – for an individual person or an organization – provided the above goal planning criteria are used.
Here is a simple outline goal planning template and process, which can be used as the full planning method for certain personal aims, or as an initial outline planning tool for the most complex organizational vision.
It is structured in stages. You can add more stages and elements (in other words the factors which cause things to happen) as necessary.
If any element is too big to imagine realistically achieving in one go, then break it down into further elements.
Even the most ambitious goals and plans are achievable when broken down and given time.
A plan to achieve a goal or vision is normally best developed by working backwards from the aim.
Ask yourself at each stage of the plan: “What must happen before this?”
And then plan to achieve each element, working back in realistic bite-sized elements, to where you are today.
Define your aim – clearly and measurably.
Identify – clearly and measurably – the factors which would directly cause the aim to be be achieved.
|Factors which will cause the aim to be achieved:||Measures:||Timescale:|
Identify the factors – clearly and measurably – which will directly enable the directly causal factors to happen or exist. It is natural for causal factors to depend on a number of enabling factors. The plan therefore develops like the roots of a tree, or the tributaries of a river. The numbering is merely a suggestion. Your own plan will be different. Some plans may contain lots more factors and levels – some plans will contain far fewer.
|Factors enabling the level-two causal factors:||Measures:||Timescale:|
This is a sample template not a fixed structure – adapt and develop the model to suit your own situation. Add more or remove factors and levels as you need.
You should add a fourth level if any third level enabling factors are not already possessed and cannot easily be achieved.
Create your plan from top to bottom.
Implement your plan from bottom to top.
Start with a clear aim.
Define it and understand what will cause it to be achieved.
Break down these causal factors and identify what will enable these to happen.
Ensure every listed item can be tracked back to achievable enabling factors – achievable in terms of size and time.
Remember that causal and enabling factors come in all shapes and sizes. If necessary research what they are for your own aim.
Success is mostly based on understanding what is required for it, before setting out to achieve it.
For example, enabling factors can include:
Where you already possess an identified enabling factor, then re-direct and prioritize it ‘upwards’ towards your aim and the next relevant causal factor(s) in your plan. This can even apply for factors like money and time, where such enablers are often possessed but are currently misdirected or wasted. The decision and commitment to re-direct and prioritize become the enabling factor.
Conversely (and perhaps more commonly) if you do not possess a factor and cannot attain it easily then identify what will cause it to happen, and extend your plan to a prior level. Apply the logic of the planning method – identify the prior enabling factors, and extend the plan to a prior level.
Behind every factor lies a cause. When you approach any aim in this way it becomes achievable.
This is a simple yet powerful approach. Be careful what you wish for – if you follow this method you will get it.
The Tannenbaum and Schmidt Continuum is a simple model of leadership theory which shows the relationship between the level of freedom that a manager chooses to give to a team, and the level of authority used by the manager. As the team’s freedom is increased, so the manager’s authority decreases. This is a positive way for both teams and managers to develop. While the Tannenbaum and Schmidt model concerns delegated freedom to a group, the principle of being able to apply different levels of delegated freedom closely relates to the ‘levels of delegation’ on the delegation page. As a manager, one of your responsibilities is to develop your team. You should delegate and ask a team to make its own decisions to varying degrees according to their abilities. There is a rising scale of levels of delegated freedom that you can use when working with your team. The Tannenbaum and Schmidt Continuum is often shown as a simple graph:
Over time, a manager should aim to take the team from one end to the other, up the scale, at which point you should also aim to have developed one or a number of potential successors from within your team to take over from you. This process can take a year or two, or even longer, so be patient, explain what you’re doing, and be aware constantly of how your team is responding and developing.
When examining and applying the Tannenbaum and Schmidt principles, it’s extremely important to remember: irrespective of the amount of responsibility and freedom delegated by a manager to a team, the manager retains accountability for any catastrophic problems that result. Delegating freedom and decision-making responsibility to a team absolutely does not absolve the manager of accountability. That’s why delegating, whether to teams or individuals, requires a very grown-up manager. If everything goes well, the team must get the credit; if it all goes horribly wrong, the manager must take the blame. This is entirely fair, because the manager is ultimately responsible for judging the seriousness of any given situation – including the risks entailed – and the level of freedom that can safely be granted to the team to deal with it. This is not actually part of the Tannenbaum and Schmidt Continuum, but it’s vital to apply this philosophy or the model will definitely be weakened, or at worse completely back-fire.
Here are the Tannenbaum and Schmidt Continuum levels of delegated freedom, with some added explanation that should make it easier to understand and apply.
1. The Manager decides and announces the decision.
The manager reviews options in light of aims, issues, priorities, timescale, etc., then decides the action and informs the team of the decision. The manager will probably have considered how the team will react, but the team plays no active part in making the decision. The team may well perceive that the manager has not considered the team’s welfare at all. This is seen by the team as a purely task-based decision, which is generally a characteristic of X-Theory management style.
2. The manager decides and then ‘sells’ the decision to the group.
The manager makes the decision as in 1 above, and then explains reasons for the decision to the team, particularly the positive benefits that the team will enjoy from the decision. In so doing the manager is seen by the team to recognise the team’s importance, and to have some concern for the team.
3. The manager presents the decision with background ideas and invites questions.
The manager presents the decision along with some of the background which led to the decision. The team is invited to ask questions and discuss with the manager the rationale behind the decision, which enables the team to understand and accept or agree with the decision more easily than in 1 and 2 above. This more participative and involving approach enables the team to appreciate the issues and reasons for the decision, and the implications of all the options. This will have a more motivational approach than 1 or 2 because of the higher level of team involvement and discussion.
4. The manager suggests a provisional decision and invites discussion about it.
The manager discusses and reviews the provisional decision with the team on the basis that the manager will take on board the views and then finally decide. This enables the team to have some real influence over the shape of the manager’s final decision. This also acknowledges that the team has something to contribute to the decision-making process, which is more involving and therefore motivating than the previous level.
5. The manager presents the situation or problem, gets suggestions, then decides.
The manager presents the situation, and maybe some options, to the team. The team is encouraged and expected to offer ideas and additional options, and discuss implications of each possible course of action. The manager then decides which option to take. This level is one of high and specific involvement for the team, and is appropriate particularly when the team has more detailed knowledge or experience of the issues than the manager. Being high-involvement and high-influence for the team this level provides more motivation and freedom than any previous level.
6. The manager explains the situation, defines the parameters and asks the team to decide.
At this level the manager has effectively delegated responsibility for the decision to the team, albeit within the manager’s stated limits. The manager may or may not choose to be a part of the team which decides. While this level appears to gives a huge responsibility to the team, the manager can control the risk and outcomes to an extent, according to the constraints that he stipulates. This level is more motivational than any previous, and requires a mature team for any serious situation or problem. (Remember that the team must get the credit for all the positive outcomes from the decision, while the manager remains accountable for any resulting problems or disasters. This isn’t strictly included in the original Tannenbaum and Schmidt definitions, so it needs pointing out because it’s such an important aspect of delegating and motivating, and leadership.)
7. The manager allows the team to identify the problem, develop the options, and decide on the action, within the manager’s received limits.
This is obviously an extreme level of freedom, whereby the team is effectively doing what the manager did in level 1. The team is given responsibility for identifying and analysing the situation or problem; the process for resolving it; developing and assessing options; evaluating implications, and then deciding on and implementing a course of action. The manager also states in advance that he/she will support the decision and help the team implement it. The manager may or may not be part of the team, and if so then he/she has no more authority than anyone else in the team. The only constraints and parameters for the team are the ones that the manager had imposed on him from above. (Again, the manager retains accountability for any resulting disasters, while the team must get the credit for all successes.) This level is potentially the most motivational of all, but also potentially the most disastrous. Not surprisingly the team must be mature and competent, and capable of acting at what is a genuinely strategic decision-making level.
The Tuckman ‘Forming, Storming, Norming Performing’ model is particularly helpful when delegating to teams and individuals within teams.
Dr Bruce Tuckman published his Forming Storming Norming Performing model in 1965. He added a fifth stage, Adjourning, in the 1970s. The Forming Storming Norming Performing theory is an elegant and helpful explanation of team development and behaviour (US spelling: behavior). Similarities can be seen with other models, such as Tannenbaum and Schmidt Continuum and especially with Hersey and Blanchard’s Situational Leadership® model, developed about the same time.
Tuckman’s model explains that as the team develops maturity and ability, relationships establish, and the leader changes leadership style. Beginning with a directing style, moving through coaching, then participating, finishing delegating and almost detached. At this point the team may produce a successor leader and the previous leader can move on to develop a new team. This progression of team behaviour and leadership style can be seen clearly in the Tannenbaum and Schmidt Continuum – the authority and freedom extended by the leader to the team increases while the control of the leader reduces. In Tuckman’s Forming Storming Norming Performing model, Hersey’s and Blanchard’s Situational Leadership® model and in Tannenbaum and Schmidt’s Continuum , we see the same effect, represented in three ways.
The Conscious Competence learning model , together with Kolb’s learning cycle theory , and the Johari Window model all provide helpful additional ways to learn and to teach others about Tuckman’s ideas and their applications.
The progression is:
Here are the features of each phase:
High dependence on leader for guidance and direction. Little agreement on team aims other than received from leader. Individual roles and responsibilities are unclear. Leader must be prepared to answer lots of questions about the team’s purpose, objectives and external relationships. Processes are often ignored. Members test tolerance of system and leader. Leader directs (similar to Situational Leadership® ‘Telling’ mode).
Decisions don’t come easily within group. Team members vie for position as they attempt to establish themselves in relation to other team members and the leader, who might receive challenges from team members. Clarity of purpose increases but plenty of uncertainties persist. Cliques and factions form and there may be power struggles. The team needs to be focused on its goals to avoid becoming distracted by relationships and emotional issues. Compromises may be required to enable progress. Leader coaches (similar to Situational Leadership® ‘Selling’ mode).
Agreement and consensus largely forms among the team, who respond well to facilitation by leader. Roles and responsibilities are clear and accepted. Big decisions are made by group agreement. Smaller decisions may be delegated to individuals or small teams within group. Commitment and unity is strong. The team may engage in fun and social activities. The team discusses and develops its processes and working style. There is general respect for the leader and some of leadership is more shared by the team. Leader facilitates and enables (similar to the Situational Leadership® ‘Participating’ mode).
The team is more strategically aware; the team knows clearly why it is doing what it is doing. The team has a shared vision and is able to stand on its own feet with no interference or participation from the leader. There is a focus on over-achieving goals, and the team makes most of the decisions against criteria agreed with the leader. The team has a high degree of autonomy. Disagreements occur but now they are resolved within the team positively, and necessary changes to processes and structure are made by the team. The team is able to work towards achieving the goal, and also to attend to relationship, style and process issues along the way. Team members look after each other. The team requires delegated tasks and projects from the leader. The team does not need to be instructed or assisted. Team members might ask for assistance from the leader with personal and interpersonal development. Leader delegates and oversees (similar to the Situational Leadership® ‘Delegating’ mode).
Bruce Tuckman refined his theory around 1975 and added a fifth stage to the Forming Storming Norming Performing model – he called it Adjourning, which is also referred to as Deforming and Mourning. Adjourning is arguably more of an adjunct to the original four stage model rather than an extension – it views the group from a perspective beyond the purpose of the first four stages. The Adjourning phase is certainly very relevant to the people in the group and their well-being, but not to the main task of managing and developing a team, which is clearly central to the original four stages.
Tuckman’s fifth stage, Adjourning, is the break-up of the group, hopefully when the task is completed successfully, its purpose fulfilled; everyone can move on to new things, feeling good about what’s been achieved. From an organizational perspective, recognition of and sensitivity to people’s vulnerabilities in Tuckman’s fifth stage is helpful, particularly if members of the group have been closely bonded and feel a sense of insecurity or threat from this change. Feelings of insecurity would be natural for people with high ‘steadiness’ attributes (as regards the ‘four temperaments’ or DISC model) and with strong routine and empathy style (as regards the Benziger thinking styles model, right and left basal brain dominance).
The classic Situational Leadership® model of management and leadership style also illustrates the ideal development of a team from immaturity (stage 1) through to maturity (stage 4) during which management an leadership style progressively develops from relatively detached task-directing (1), through the more managerially-involved stages of explanation (2) and participation (3), to the final stage of relatively detached delegation (4), at which time ideally the team is largely self-managing, and hopefully contains at least one potential management/leadership successor.
The aim of the leader or manager is therefore to develop the team through the four stages, and then to move on to another role.
Ironically this outcome is feared by many managers. However, good organizations place an extremely high value on leaders and managers who can achieve this.
The model also illustrates four main leadership and management styles, which a good leader is able to switch between, depending on the situation (i.e., the team’s maturity relating to a particular task, project or challenge.)
The Tannenbaum and Schmidt Continuum also correlates in a way to the models above – essentially that management style tends to offer more freedom as the group matures.
The diagonal line loosely equates to the dotted line on the other two models. As the team matures and becomes more self-sufficient and self-directing, so the manager’s style should react accordingly, ideally becoming more detached, more delegating, encouraging and enabling the group to run itself, and for a successor (or if you are a good manager or a lucky one, for more than one successor) to emerge.
This simple overview of the Tuckman forming storming performing norming model offers a simple easy way to understand how groups develop.
Tuckman’s model is especially helpful in training people about group work because it relates so obviously to many other theories about how groups develop.