Real Delegation
How to Get People to Do Things
for You -- and Do Them Well

By J.K. Smart
Financial Times / Prentice Hall
December 2002
ISBN: 0-273-66322-4
144 Pages, Illustrated
$32.50 paper original

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Overworked managers know that management is about doing the best you can with what you've got. This book blends the author's thinking framework with your individual experience to help you improve your delegation skills. Karen Smart's background is in individual and organizational development. However, unlike some in her field, first and foremost Karen sees herself as a line manager. In recent years, she's worked primarily on enabling managers to manage -- developing and delivering everything from individual skill building and management development programs to management systems design and organization wide culture change.

In addition to managing her team, Karen has coached senior managers and facilitated cross-functional working, problem solving and conflict management. Although she has two degrees and has researched extensively across a range of disciplines, ultimately Karen feels she's learned most about management from her experience as an overworked and undervalued manager, disempowered by bureaucracy. From this experience - and inspired by the man she says "puts the J into KJ Smart and a lot of the smart too" - the philosophy of real management for real people was born.

Introduction to Real Management Confessions of an overworked manager. Towards a new way of managing in the real world. The key to unlocking your best ever performance. Track back from your experience, then work forward from your beliefs. If itís as easy as the books make out, why are there so many books? Resisting the temptation to want easy answers in a complex world.

Part One Ė Understanding why delegation goes wrong so you can put it right Why donít I like to delegate? Our fears always make sense - itís our beliefs and responses we need to worry about. Why, when I delegate, donít I get what I want? Funny how we donít really know what we want until we donít get it. Why, no matter how well I brief my staff, does it still go wrong? Itís always a mistake to assume youíre starting with a clean sheet. Why, even when I get exactly what I asked for, am I still disappointed? In real life we never just implement our first idea, we adjust as we go. Why do things go wrong if Iím not checking up on them all the time? Delegating the task but not the responsibility for managing the task. Why, even when I follow all the steps in the books, does it still go wrong? Because weíre human beings, not robots Ė thank goodness!

Part Two Ė Getting delegation right in the real world How do you make sure your delegation process will work? Understanding the variables so you can manage the dynamic. How do you avoid the "task focus" trap and build your process around the "human element"? Understanding yourself and the person youíre delegating to. How do you ensure the responsibilities are properly allocated? Shifting from a parent/child to and adult/adult relationship. How do you analyse the dynamic for a particular task and employee? Accessing all your knowledge and making the most of your team member. How do you come to a shared understanding of the task? The briefing discussion Ė dealing with the issue of perspective. How do you help your team member get the task and task management processes right? The planning discussion and use of report backs and checkpoint discussions. How do you ensure you both learn from the experience? The review for learning discussion Ė gaining valuable insight from the experience.

Part Three Ė Knowing when to step in and when to stand back When do they need development? The need to help them when theyíre being stretched. When are there things that only you can do? The need to manage factors affecting their performance. When are the key decision-making points? The need to challenge thinking and keep them focused on outcomes. When is whatís actually happening not what should be happening? The need to act when you pick up a variation or when they need your insight. When are they not taking responsibility? The need to hold them responsible for putting things right when they go wrong. When do they need motivation, encouragement and recognition? The need to provide emotional support without becoming a crutch.

Conclusion Why should you persevere with delegating when itís so complex? Appendices Towards a way of managing for the new era. The beliefs that help me make sense of my world and the people in it, including me. Questions for a brain dump. Triggering all your knowledge about a task. From strengths and weaknesses to characteristics. Getting into neutral to exploit all the possibilities.

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