Successfully Manage Tasks You Have Delegated

Successfully Manage Tasks You Have Delegated

Managing Delegated Tasks Using The 3C’s

One of the great challenges facing managers is constantly managing delegated tasks. In other words, getting work done effectively through others.

Many managers are frustrated by the inability of some staff to manage their delegated tasks independently. They are constantly swamped with queries and having to follow up staff on agreed deadlines.

If this is your story, then you may like to consider whether you are handling these queries from your staff in the most effective manner.

As a Workplace Coach specialising in the area of productivity, I’ve listened to many people’s stories about how they deal with queries from staff on tasks they have assigned. I’ve come to realise that the way many people deal with this is to quickly provide the solution or answer so their staff can get on with the task. And they themselves they can get back to their own work!

This might be the quickest and easiest solution at the time of course, but it does nothing to address any potential underlying problems. Ultimately, it means that your staff will be continually coming back to you with their queries.

Recent Coaching Example

During a coaching session with one of my clients, we were chatting about how he was managing tasks delegated to his team. He felt quite frustrated by the inability of some people in his team to complete projects or assigned tasks in a timely manner. He had a revolving door of staff coming to him with questions and queries. This meant he was continually interrupted.

He found himself constantly following up on tasks assigned to others. This meant he spent a lot of his time answering queries and generally helping his staff resolve their problems. As a result, his hours of work just kept getting longer and longer!

I suggested a possible different approach. He needed to try and determine why his staff were continually coming to him to get their queries resolved and not handling their work independently?

Why did they not just make a decision? Some people were relatively new, but many were very experienced at their job. And yet, clearly something was not working as it should.

Was there something he was doing that was contributing to this problem he was having? I thought there might well be.

The 3 C’s

I asked him to consider that when someone a had a query or was stuck on a delegated task, he try and determine what the underlying issue may be. I suggested he ask himself whether the reason for the query was as a result of either;

  1. Competence (they don’t know what to do)
  2. Confidence (they know what to do, but lack the confidence to move ahead)
  3. Commitment (they know what to do, but for some reason are not committed to getting it done)

In other words, ask questions to determine if the person knows what to do? If they have never done the task before or are fairly new to the job, then giving them the answer may be the right thing to do.

However, if you have answered their query several times before, then giving them to answer may mean they will be back in your office in a few days time asking the same type of question.  They may just lack the confidence to make a decision or tackle the task. On the other hand, perhaps they don’t want to make the decision or complete the task which can happen for a variety of reasons.

In any case, determining which of the 3C’s is at play here will help you understand the underlying issue so you can better help them and not create more work for yourself in the long run.

You don’t want to take the problem from them, though many people end up doing just that!  Put another way, you don’t want to rescue them. That would be taking on the Monkey. But you do want to ask some insightful coaching questions to help determine the cause of them getting stuck.

So when managing delegated tasks, what questions might you ask in trying to determine what type of problem it is?

Competence Problems

Clearly if the issue is one of competence, your approach to helping them will change accordingly. You will want to help them become competent in handling the particular delegated task as quickly as possible. You might ask questions like:

  • “Is this something you have done before?”
  • “Do you feel equipped to handle this project?”
  • “What training might be useful so you can get this done?”
  • “Is there any assistance I can provide that would help you along?”

 Of course, you could suggest they just try it. (The sink or swim approach…) You may suggest some training. You could show or demonstrate to them how it is done. All these are legitimate ways to help people who are new or even new to the type of delegated task they are handling for you.

Confidence Problems

If you feel the issue is one of a lack of confidence, treating it as a competence problem will not help them move forward in any meaningful way.

How do you determine that? If you know you have told or shown someone how to handle a delegated task a few times, then the problem should not be one of competence. You need to build their confidence in their ability to handle this type of delegated task. So you might ask questions like:

  • “Do you feel confident enough in tackling this task? If no, can I ask why?”
  • “So when have you done something similar to this?”
  • “What did you do last time?”
  • “What is the worst thing that could happen if you were to try this?”
  • “What would you do if I wasn’t here to ask about this? What would be your next step?”

So you might suggest they make a start and then check in with you at a predetermined point to get some feedback. You might show them you back them in by simply telling them you have full confidence in whatever they put forward. Giving appropriate and timely praise will help too of course.

Commitment Problems

If you are fairly confident the issue is not one of Competence or one of Confidence, then clearly your approach needs to change accordingly. The issue in front of you now is to determine WHY they are not committed to completing their delegated task.

Again, some good coaching questions may help you unpack this with them.

You might ask:

  • “When do you think you can get this done for me?”
  • “So I know you know how to do this, you’ve done it before, so I am wondering what is holding you back from completing this task/request?”
  • “Do you understand why it is I am asking you to do this?”
  • “I’m a little confused as to why this has not been done yet? Any reason I should know about?”

The idea is to uncover what exactly is the reason they have not done this as yet?It could be that they don’t see it as important. They may be struggling with prioritising their workload. They may even feel this is not worth doing.

Either way, you need to get to the bottom of the underlying reason if you are to help them move forward.

I hope this little reflection proves helpful to you as you work with your team in managing their delegated tasks to get things done and be more productive at work.


Geoff Prior – Lingford Consulting, June 2015

Workload & Email Management Training/Coaching. MBTI Consultant


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