Using SMARTER for Better Delegation

A simple delegation rule is the SMART acronym, or better still, SMARTER. It’s a quick checklist for proper delegation. Delegated tasks must be:

Specific

Be specific about task, job or role you delegate.

Measurable

How do you know if it is done? And if done, done well, fair or poor? These need to be clearly communicated.

Agreed

You need to obtain agreement from the group or party you are delegating to. This usually involves asking them to confirm ‘their understainding’ of what is being delegated and the measurement. Be prepared to listen to them, to clarify and negotiate, if necessary.

Realistic

Is this something that can be done with the available resources, within the expected time frame and with the skills and experience of those you are entrusting with the task? Be honest with yourself and them about these issues.

Timebound

Provide a specific time period in which to accomplish the task. You may want to include interim milestones as well. Ask them to develop these. This will allow them to own the process and let them share their thoughts with you.

Ethical

Are you asking them to do something that is unethical? Wow, this is a non-starter. Don’t ever put someone in this position.

Recorded

Write down the task, time period, any interim milestones and what constitutes completion and success.

If done with a clear, yet tone that allows the person to feel trusted, but at the same time letting them know the task is important and needs their full attention and focus, you are much more likely to have a successful ‘transfer’ of responsibilities.

Poor outcomes in delegation are often the fault of unclear communication and expectations. As a leader, it is your role to ensure this does not happen.

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