In 'The One Minute Manager', Kenneth Blanchard and Spencer Johnson argue that there are three main management tasks:
goal setting, which includes setting performance standards and identifying key areas;
praising, which should be sincere, immediate and specific; and,
reprimanding, which should be both immediate and specific, but in addition should only be used if the person concerned has all the skills to do a job, yet still gets it wrong.
Delegation allows a manager to control processes through other people. Delegation is essential because you can't do everything. If you want your business to function properly, you must delegate. Unfortunately, as we shall see, there is a considerable difference between delegating, and delegating well.
The process of delegating effectively and comfortably will involve a number of elements:
It may be helpful to think about the delegation process as a contract. There are contractual duties on behalf of both the delegator and the delegatee.
Broadly speaking, the delegator should:
It is important to select the right person for the task that you want to delegate. Clearly there is no point to delegating a complex new task to someone who does not learn quickly nor has the verbal, manual or conceptual skills to carry it out.
You should consider the following:
Delegate both good and bad tasks. It is human nature to want to save the good stuff for yourself and offload the bad to others, but this can lead to resentment among staff.
Delegate gradually. Delegation is not merely taking the contents of an in-tray or action file and handing them over to someone else. Test the water by delegating small tasks before you go on to more complex and difficult ones.
Delegate the whole of a task to one person or to one team. This makes that person or team specifically accountable and minimises the likelihood of confusion and mistakes. It also gives a clear and positive trust message to the staff involved.
Define responsibilities and targets clearly. Tell people what you expect from them; it saves a lot of trouble later on.
Be consistent. Unless you intend to carry the delegation through, it is best not to start. Delegating sporadically, or revoking a delegation for no good reason, will cause confusion and threaten the delegatory relationship.
Delegate credit, not blame. One of the most difficult parts of the delegation process is the issue of credit and blame. If a delegated task is completed successfully, the delegatee should be given the credit. When a delegated task fails, the delegator should accept the blame.
Delegation involves responsibility without power and so needs mutual trust within the context of a good working relationship. Delegators who try to claim credit or apportion blame to where it is not due will not be able to preserve a good working relationship.
A 'good' delegatee will display the following 'positive' behaviours:
Initiative - the delegatee needs to agree to take the initiative. Delegation is not a one-way process; as with all relationships, there needs to be input from both parties. Whilst the delegator will outline the current situation, it is up to the delegatee to question for clarity and to be sure that they fully understand the circumstances.
If the delegator displays any one of the following feelings, then the delegation process may be badly affected:
Guilt: the person delegated to might already be snowed under with work. You may feel guilty about giving them even more to do.
Fear: fear is a powerful emotion. It's so powerful that we immediately shy away from its implications. 'I could lose the whole order, then I couldn't meet my loan repayment, then I'll be forced to cease trading and I'll be unemployed and my girlfriend will leave me, or my children will starve.' Consider your fears in context and if they are realistic, do the task yourself.
Performance appraisal is the business equivalent to a compass for checking position and direction. It is designed to ensure that you are on course and have not strayed into dangerous territory. Without an effective route finder, you may not reach your intended destination or, even worse, get completely lost.
Effective appraisal involves taking a number of steps:
deciding what it is that you are appraising;
deciding how often you will appraise;
choosing the best information source for appraisal - who should appraise;
deciding on a structure for the appraisal;
being aware of the problems; and,
carrying out the appraisal.
Many managers adopt appraisal systems just because other organisations have them or perhaps because it is seen as the right thing to do. This can mean that a business operates an appraisal system that does not fit its needs. Also, people are often unclear about what it is that appraisal actually does. For most people with experience of appraisal, it is inevitably linked with problematic issues such as pay awards or difficulties with performance. Perhaps this contributes to the confusion. Very few managers are 'naturally' good in appraisal.
Before you actually embark on the process of achieving increased capacity from a performance appraisal, you may need to consider both the frequency of, and framework for, the review.
The first point to consider is how often should appraisal take place. Larger organisations will often conduct performance appraisals once or twice a year, and many smaller organisations follow suit. However, as smaller organisations work in rapidly changing environments in which staff duties vary daily you may need to take a different approach.
Once you've decided how often to appraise, the next important question is, 'Where is the best information likely to be found?' It is easy to assume that the best judge of performance is the line manager or supervisor. This may not be true. Good information about performance is likely to come from all sorts of sources - line manager, supervisor, the employee, colleagues, production figures, etc. A really effective appraisal system will make use of as many of these information sources as is practicable.
Once you have decided how often you are going to appraise and where the best information on performance is likely to be found, the next thing to consider is how you are actually going to carry the appraisal out.
The appraisal interview is time taken out of the everyday routine when, for a little while, you stand back from things and deliberately take in the full panoramic view - 'the big picture'. It is often the appraisee's one and only chance to say exactly what is on their mind - whether you want to hear it or not.
Some say that there is little difference between the process of a selection interview and that of an appraisal interview. There may be a shift in focus but the structure of a selection interview, ie beginning - middle - end, is reflected by a similar model involving appraisal: reviewing past performance - setting the performance step - checking understanding.
Feedback may come in the form of praise or criticism. Praise is vital and motivational, but must be specific. Criticism must similarly be specific - and factual - and aimed at the behaviour, not the person.
If you are dealing with sub-standard performance, don’t blame - look for ways to gain control of the situation. Ask, 'How can we influence this?' or 'How can we make this better?'. You can normally get a handle on a problem by moving it from the category of 'can’t affect' to either 'influence' or 'control', for example:
Accurate performance appraisal can provide you with quality information, but you should be aware that there are two sets of traps into which you can fall regarding the whole process. The first of these pertains to the ways in which human beings acquire and process information and the second to the skills of the person acquiring it.