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Regroup fast when delegation backfires

Listen, learn, try again

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in Leaders & Managers,Workplace Communication

You know you should delegate. But when you do, all hell breaks loose.

When you dish out assignments that don’t get done, you’re often left scurrying to fix a snafu. Same goes if you’re stuck with shoddy work.

As much as you may want to renounce delegation and revert to doing everything yourself, don’t. Learn from the experience and refine your delegation in the future:

Replace fury with curiosity. Your first instinct may be to lash out when your employee doesn’t follow through. Redirect your anger into figuring out what happened and why.

Calmly ask the employee, “Can you walk me through how you approached this?” Try to isolate any misunderstandings or mishaps and discuss why they occurred.

Postpone fault-finding. Don’t rush to assign blame. Even if a worker clearly blundered, say, “I’m not concerned about finger pointing right now. It’s more important to get back on track.”

If you want to scold the employee, let a day or two pass. It’s easier to discipline or express your disappointment when you’re not putting out fires.

Offer a second chance. If delegation fails, try again! Don’t let weeks go by in which the employee loses confidence—or you grow to doubt that employee’s ability. Instead, enlist the worker in a different project that requires a different skill set.

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