Saturday, January 17, 2009

It Is Not Done Yet

Writen by Harlan Goerger

You mean to tell me another time extension is needed to get this done. Haven't you already had two extensions and increased budget for this project asks the president.

Yes we have and there have been all kinds of problems that have come up, we are not getting the support from the other departments or executives and the team is not pulling together retorts the manager.

Have you ever delegated a project and found yourself in somewhat the same situation? Many leaders do and ask what they could do differently to avoid this?

We will cover six steps that will help one delegate more effectively to the right person for the right reason and get their total buy-in to the project. The steps have been proven effective by successful Fortune 100 Executives from around the world. 1..

In my last article, Frenzied Time Management we discussed six absolutes for top performance. It separated the idea of motivation from the deeper concept of willpower. Today we'll take that idea into delegation and how to get more than just a job done, instead, let's create a new leader!

6 Steps to Project Buy-in:

1. Visualize the Outcome: If we direct someone to pickup the litter on the ground and put it into the trash can, we accomplish a task. The worker may view it as a task and part of their job, but are they motivated much less inspired. On the other hand, let's create a vision of how the grounds could look like a well groomed park and how that will make the employee feel. Especially if they have a choice in how it is accomplished.

As we look at larger projects, new product introductions, corporate expansions or a completely new division, we may find it so huge that it is difficult to get one's hands around it much less our minds. In these cases one needs to have the candidate break down the total vision into bite size parts so that they can start to visualize and relate to the project. The next step is combining the parts once more for a clear vision. Now the candidate can complete the next five steps.

2. Lay out the Obstacles: Far too often the hurdles and obstacles that we know will come up are glazed over in delegation. These later pop up on the unsuspecting candidate and immobilize some. For sure it causes delays, panic and tension. By having the candidate take the vision in step one and layout all the obstacles they can anticipate, they have a balanced picture. They now mentally determine if they are up to the task and avoid setting themselves up for failure.

This also helps them plan how to overcome these potential obstacles and turn them into opportunities if possible. If this sounds similar to Outcome Based Thinking, it is.

We also need to deal with the personal side of obstacles as well. What personal issues or changes might this project cause for the candidate? What will they have to change? What will it cost them personally? What would they do instead of this project if given the choice? Why?

3. Create a Commitment: There is a difference between being motivated to do something and committed to doing something. Many managers use incentives such as trips, bonuses and awards to motivate and get results. Often these work well for the short term and for a percentage of the group. But we want long term commitment, not just short term motivation. We need the candidates head and heart into the project! So how might we do this?

We need to engage the candidate in meaningful conversation. We need to ask them to reflect on their real feelings now that they have a clear vision as well as an understanding of the obstacles involved. Can they personally commit with their full head and heart?

I am not against incentives, yet when I talk to top performers that get most of the incentives, they indicate it was something bigger, more of a vision that drove their performance. They often looked at the incentives as the frosting, not the cake.

4. Choice is Needed: Far too many times I talk to frustrated people that feel they are handicapped by over policing or control from upper management. One capable young lady said, "I wish they would let me make my own mistakes so I could learn faster!" She later left the organization for a position with more responsibility and more freedom of choice. Often delegation is like child rearing. We are concerned for the child and their abilities and want to protect them from hurt or failure. We overprotect the child, over control and restrict them. Yet, how does a young toddler learn? My two and three year old grandchildren learn by experience. They climb, they try, they fall and they get up and try again. Are the people we delegate to that much different?

In the book Think and Grow Rich, a story about Andrew Carnegie talks about an executive that had just started with US Steel. He blew a project and it cost US Steel one million dollars. This is 1920 so I would guess that's about 100 million in today's money. He reluctantly goes to Mr. Carnegie's office expecting the worst. Fire you? says Mr. Carnegie, We just spent a million dollars training you! He became one of US Steels most productive executives.

Managers need to monitor, support and guide the delegation without policing or dictating. It is a balancing act.

5. Stop Loss: The delegation needs to include the ability for the candidate to determine their own stop loss. Any choice one makes can end up being a wrong choice. How it is handled can make a tremendous difference both long and short term. The candidate needs to determine when the project is going the wrong way prior to accepting the project. How will they terminate the project if it surpasses the stop loss point? What mechanisms both quantitative and social will act as trip levers on the project? This needs to be a self-regulated system designed and operated by the candidate.

This may be one of the more difficult points for some mangers in delegating. One needs to be willing to watch, support and advise without crushing the candidate. Remember, the previous steps will tell you if the candidate is the right candidate and if they have bought in with both head and heart.

6. Build a Desire: A French philosopher, Antoine De SaintExupery, wrote: If you want to build a ship, don't drum up your men to go the forest to gather wood, saw it and nail the planks together. Instead, teach them the desire for the sea. 1. What is this project really about? How does its vision tie into the organizations objectives and culture? Can this become a mission for the candidate? Is the candidate challenged by the project?

If your candidate for the project is still saying yes and is stomping like a thoroughbred race horse, you have the right person. Like a pro jockey, let the horse run, just support and guide them around the track.

For more on management development, sales, customer service or personal development check out our web site at or


1. Heike Bruch – Sumantra Ghoshal, A Bias for Action

Mr. Goerger has over 25 years of training hundreds of people in sales, management and personal development. The programs he has developed create lasting change in performance.

No comments: