leadership

How to effectively delegate

The benefit of delegation reaches beyond the support it provides you as a manager.  

Effective delegation is a fantastic way to develop the skills in your team. It demonstrates trust, as well as improving the efficiency and flexibility of your team members. But how to decide which tasks to delegate?

 

In this article, Jenny Blake talks about the power of delegation and the significant impact it had on her business success.  Jenny shares a process called the 6T’s to audit tasks and determine which to delegate.

 

Team Development

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Stages of Team Development

I am sure you are all familiar with Tuckman’s theory of team development. It is a well-discussed and applied theory about the states of team development first published in 1965.

Getting a group of people to work together isn’t always an easy task but is important for success. The Australian workplace culture especially, is very team orientated, focusing on the collective efforts and working together to achieve an outcome.

Understanding team dynamics and the team development process is important for leaders and managers.  Tuckman’s theory suggests that every team goes through four distinct stages of development.  He believed (as is a common belief today) that these stages are inevitable for a team to grow to the point where they are functioning effectively together and delivering high quality results.

Here is an overview of the stages and what the team might look like as they progress through each stage:

Stage 1: Forming

The "forming" stage takes place when the team first meets each other.  You may have had a team shuffle, be welcoming new team members or forming a new team.  Team members are introduced to each other, share information about themselves and start to form first impressions of each other. They learn about the team they are in or joining and the objectives and goals as well as starting to build and understanding of what their role will be within the team and how they contribute to the overall success and key deliverables.

During this initial stage of team growth, it is important for the team leader to be very clear about their expectations, including team and individual KPIs and how the team contribute to the bigger picture.  The team is dependent on the team leader to guide them. For more information on setting expectations read our September blog: http://www.aprg.com.au/blog/2018/9/27/setting-expectations

Stage 2: Storming

As the team begins to work together, they move into the "storming" stage. This stage is not avoidable; every team - most especially a new team who have never worked together before - goes through this part of team development.  In this stage, the team members challenge each other as they work to understand how they fit into the team, working to gain acceptance of their ideas and skills.  It can cause conflict as they have different opinions and want to share their expertise and experiences and why their ideas should be accepted.  It’s a tussle for authority, trust and belief in the individuals experience and expertise. 

As the team goes through this, the guidance and support from the leader is important.  The leader’s role here is to set the boundaries and coach and support; establishing the platform for the team to allow them to explore and learn how they will solve problems and function together as a team.  It is the leader’s responsibility to ensure that this is done in a positive and professional manner that provides support and opportunity for the team.  This can be a difficult stage for the team to go through and requires hands on coaching and support from the leader.

This stage will come to a close when the team becomes more accepting of each other and learns how to work together to achieve objectives. At this point, the team leader should start transitioning some decision making to the team to allow them more independence, but still remain involved to coach, guide and manage any conflicts or issues that arise. The leader’s role is critical through this stage and successfully guiding the team through this phase will set them up for success.

Stage 3: Norming

When the team moves into the "norming" stage, they are beginning to work more effectively as a team.  The team have developed a way of working together that respects each other's opinions and value their differences. They begin to see the value in those differences. Working together as a team seems more natural. The team members begin to actively seek each other out for assistance and input as they work towards a common goal. The team leader supports the team members to work collaboratively, sharing skills and strengthening the depth of the team.

Stage 4: Performing

In the "performing" stage, teams are functioning at a very high level. The focus is on reaching the objectives and goals as a group. The team members have gotten to know each other, trust each other and rely on each other. They know their individual contributions and how to utilise the strength and experience of their peers.

Not every team makes it to this level of team growth.  For a leader, this is a significant win and now the team require a leader that is strong in their own beliefs and contributions.  For an insecure leader, this strength and success of the team can become threatening as the team is identifying problems and solutions independent of the leader.

For the secure leader, they will recognise this as a significant testament to the work they have done to build the team and will encourage the team to continue working and continue to invest in the people to grow and support them as they achieve new heights.  

The team is highly motivated to get the job done. They can make decisions and problem solve quickly and effectively. When they disagree, the team members can work through it and come to consensus without interrupting progress.  In this stage, the team leader isn’t required to be involved in decision making, problem solving or other such activities involving the day-to-day work of the team. The team members work effectively as a group and do not need the oversight that is required at the other stages.

It’s important to note that even in this stage, there is a possibility that the team may revert back to another stage. For example, the team may revert back to the "forming" stage if a new member joins the team.  Significant change can also revert the team back to an earlier stage until they are able to manage through the change.

Is the team effective or not?

On top of the stages and pinpointing the team through these, there are various indicators of whether a team is working effectively together as a group. An effective team looks like this:

  • Clear communication among all members

  • Regular brainstorming session with all members participating

  • Consensus among team members

  • Problem solving done by the group

  • Regular team meetings are effective and inclusive

  • Positive, supportive working relationships among all team members

Teams that are not working effectively together will display the following:

  • Team members work alone, rarely sharing information and offering assistance

  • Team members blame others for what goes wrong, no one accepts responsibility

  • Team members do not support others in the team

The team leader needs to take fast affirmative action to address issues and work with the team directing them to a more effective way of working together.

Strong leaders will take ownership for the success of their team, demonstrating trusting behaviours, setting clear expectations and working with the team members to understand the contribution to the overall goals. 

A team joined together on the “Why” will find success organically and deliver above and beyond expectations.

How To Get Home Earlier Today and Every Day

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Task management skills are crucial for effective people (and therefore effective teams).  It is the effectiveness of what you do in each hour of your day, not the number of hours you do that determines the results you and your team accomplish.

The number one excuse for not getting something done or feeling stressed, anxious and overworked both professionally and personally is not having enough time.

If the number one excuse is a lack of time and we all have the same 24 hours, 1440 minutes, or 86400 seconds in a single day, how is it that some people can get so much more done in much less time?

They do this not through managing time but in managing themselves in relation to time; in other words, effective and highly efficient task management. 

Effective task management requires commitment and consistent effort. That being said, some small changes can have huge benefits. For example, if you can convert just ten minutes of wasted time per day to productive work, you gain back almost an hour of productivity in your week and an additional week of productivity in your year. If you can convert 45 minutes of wasted time a day to productive work, you gain almost four hours of additional productivity a week.  That’s half a work day!

And if you think you don’t have time to focus on task management then consider this; mastering your tasks will allow you to better control your workload and functionality even under intense pressure liberating you from much of the stress and overwhelm plaguing your work day.

 

1.      Create A Daily To Do List. Start with a weekly plan at the beginning of the week identifying what needs to be done this week to ensure you are on track towards meeting your goals. Break your weekly plan down into daily tasks.  Before you leave for the day, write out your daily task list for the next day. Build this list based on what you didn’t get done today that needs to be carried over and completed tomorrow and what needs to be done to ensure you reach your weekly goals.  And schedule your least favourite task first to get it out of the way. (see 5)

 

2.      Set Priorities - Priorities are often based on a deadline or who is yelling the loudest. Schedule deadlines for important tasks and break them down to ensure they get done and are not overtaken by urgent tasks. Prioritise your task list with a simple A, B and C and allocate your activity to spend 70% of your day on priority As, 20% on priority Bs and 10% on priority Cs.

 

3.      Develop Effective Scheduling Habits - Schedule your day based around what you need to get done.  You have as much control over your time as you exert.  Leave your time open-ended, and you will consume it with low-value activities.  Put a time frame on your work activities, and you will be surprised how quickly you begin to get things done. For example, a primary time waster is giving attention to email as it arrives. Schedule time at both the beginning and end of the day to read and respond to email. Have an automatic reply set up to advise your email hours and if it is business critical then to call you.

 

4.      Manage Distractions - As things come in during the day use the 4 Ds

Do It

If it can be done in less than 5 minutes then it fits the ‘one touch rule’ so do it now

Dump It

If it doesn’t require your attention or is not worthy of your time i.e. tasks that you are being advised about as a ‘keep in the loop’ let it go

Defer it

Schedule a time and space for it then put it out of your mind

Delegate it

Especially if it’s not your responsibility but ask for a note that it has been completed especially if it is part of a larger body of work for which you are responsible.

 

5.      Stop Procrastinating - Make a list of all those things you are currently procrastinating about so they are out in the open and can no longer be ignored. Prioritise in order of how much you don’t want to do the task and put the one you don’t want to do on your daily To Do list as a Priority A and then do it. Once one is out of the way, you’ll feel better equipped to deal with the rest. Aim to complete one of your procrastination tasks every month.

 

6.      Learn To Say No - Say no to time wasters such as meetings that are not critical for you to attend. Meetings that are called at the last minute, meetings with no agenda, those with no designated meeting place arranged, have a vague topic or a simple subject matter that could be resolved by email are most likely a waste of your valuable time and are best avoided.

 

7.      Take Breaks – a break will allow you to refresh, recharge and refocus making you significantly more productive. We were not designed to work at optimum levels without a break. Scientific studies have shown productivity drops over time if we force concentration. Go for a short walk in the sun and grab some water or lunch, you’ll be better for it.

 

Focusing on better task management will make your day more productive, but more importantly it will free you to wave goodbye to the office that bit earlier. And getting home at 5pm instead of 7pm means more time doing those things you’d rather be doing with those you’d rather be doing them with.