What, why and How of delegating

What is Delegating?

Delegating is like a magic wand in the hands of smart managers. Delegating is highly effective when used properly but it is a complex one to practice. Whatever be the leadership model, ‘Delegating’ is an undisputed leadership style discussed across all those models.

“Effective delegation takes emotional courage as we allow, to one degree or another, others to make mistakes on our time, money and good name.

Effective delegation must be two-way: responsibility given, responsibility received.”

-Stephen Covey in First things First

Let us review simple definition of Delegating: Delegating is assigning a task that you currently have in your activity list(for which you are ultimately responsible) and assigning it to other person with confidence that he will complete with minimal or no involvement from you.

As far as managers are concerned, Delegating allows them to make the best use of their time and skills, and it helps team member’s growth and develops to reach their full potential in the organization.

Why Delegating is not performed often?

Here are the few reasons managers tell for not delegating a task. Reviewing these would be a good learning on common mistakes which we do.

“I don’t have enough time to delegate properly.”

“I don’t have the skills to delegate well.”

“It’s easier to do it myself than to ask someone else.”

“The people to whom I could delegate are already too busy; don’t have the knowledge, skills, or experience required; or aren’t ready to accept this level of responsibility.”

“I’ve been let down in the past, and if they don’t get the job done, I’ll end up looking bad.”

“Risk taking is not encouraged in this organization, and delegation is risky.”

Why Delegating is required?

There are countless benefits to delegating. Now, let us review few of them:

* Delegation is an effective tool in grooming future managers/leaders

* Delegation is cost effective for the organization

* Delegation helps in time management – when work is in high volume and complex

* Delegation of decision making, participative management, and leading through other leaders are vital to increasing the total power of the manager/leader and the organization

* If delegating is done well, a project manager can quickly build a strong and successful team of people, well able to meet the demands that others place.

* Delegation demonstrates manager’s professionalism and effectiveness

* Delegation creates a win-win situation – The Manager and the organization – gets the work done faster,

The member – gets sense of accomplishment, trust, opportunity to grow and recognition

What are the parameters to do delegating?

Delegating is situation based. So, mainly, its parameters are:

a) Complexity of task in hand,

b) Risk involved if not task completed as expected and

c) Commitment & competence of team member

How to do delegating?

When delegating few things to be kept in mind.

* Delegate the whole job whenever possible – this makes member to feel responsibility which increases motivation

* Avoid upward delegation – that is, avoid having your team member turn to you to solve every problem that they encounter while performing the tasks that you delegated to them.

* Always have progress check points – Delegating is not just giving the work to someone and leaves it. This helps to find out whether the work progress in the right direction & gives more confidence on the timely delivery.

* Don’t delegate if you don’t know about the task – if you don’t know what to do to complete the task then we cannot get it done from others.

* Don’t delegate task that requires confidentiality or sensitive issues – there are few tasks like performance appraisal, interpersonal conflicts, sensitive matters (particularly lay-off) should not be delegated. They are exclusive duties of managers.

Delegating Steps

Understand & assess the task

Basic step of delegation is understanding & assessing the task you want to delegate. Assessment should be based on delegation parameters – complexity, level of skill, level of commitment, need for involvement. Without proper understanding one cannot delete a task to others.

Clarify objectives

After identifying the resource to do the work, next step is clarifying the objectives to him. Mainly, explain Why -> The purpose, What -> the goal and How -> the boundaries of the task, so the person has a clear picture of what we are wanting to accomplish. Also, talk on the reward, recognition & learning new skills.

Understand Concerns, feelings & suggestions

Also, understand & deal the comfortableness, concerns, feelings & suggestions of the member. Member should feel responsibility & not that he gets only extra work to perform. Based on outcome of this step, you may need to select different resource if there is any conflict of interest.

Decide & Agree on Goal

Next step is agreeing on time line, quality standards, level of your intervention, authority and accountability. This step is vital as this would be the baseline for further verification of work. Delegate the task and not the method to accomplish it. Let your team member will decide that. This makes the member to take personal initiative which gives him sense of contribution. It is important to express confidence on member’s work, your availability for support, and your appreciation during progress.

Get involved

Another important step is staying involved at the level agreed. Maintain open lines of communication. Checking too often or not getting involved will create negative impact. Revisit the frequency of communication based on the situation and negotiate.


Review the work done (not the method) in the agreed time interval and give positive and corrective feedbacks. If you’re not satisfied with the progress, don’t immediately take the project back. Continue to work with the member and ensure they perceive the project as their responsibility. After the final result delivery, take necessary initiative to fulfill the agreed reward.

Variations in Situational Leadership®

This post is continuation of earlier posts – What is Situational Leadership® means? , Knowing and switching Leadership styles. In the earlier post on Situational Leadership®, we reviewed Hersey & Blanchard’s Situational Leadership® Model and its key components.

Few points on History

In the late 1960s, Ken Blanchard & Paul Hersey came up with breakthrough Situational Leadership® model. After almost 20-25 years, in 1985, Blanchard and the his associates (who founded Ken Blanchard Companies) came up with variations to earlier Situational Leadership® model and called it as Situational Leadership® II (acronym: SLII®).

Hersey founded The Center for Leadership Studies which provides training in Situational Leadership® whereas Ken Blanchard’s Ken Blanchard Companies provides training and focuses on SLII®.

Let us review earlier variations within Situational Leadership® before touching SLII®.

Follower’s Maturity Level Vs Development Level

Maturity levels are used in the original version of the life-cycle theory of leadership. This was the one used to explain follower’s readiness level for Situational Leadership® in earlier post.

Overtime, H & B changed maturity levels to development levels as the word – ‘maturity’ seen as somewhat inappropriate as wide usage of this leadership model. Also, the development level is goal or task specific and not to be confused with person’s skills. The development levels (denoted by D) correspond with S levels the same way the older M levels did.

Follower behavior competent vs commitment

Also, the identification of Follower’s maturity level based Skill & Will behavior is changed to Competence & Commitment behavior without changing the underlying meaning.

Competence—the follower’s ability/knowledge/skills to do a particular task; and
Commitment—the follower’s willingness and confidence to do a particular task.

Competence and commitment of followers varies according to skill levels. As followers’ skills develop they move up from D1 to D4.

As far as the Leadership styles are concerned – task and relationship behavior used to identify the leadership styles are changed to directive & supportive behavior. This also pretty much renaming of earlier words and not much change in the meaning.

Directive Behaviorexplaining what each follower is to do, as well as when, where, and how tasks are to be accomplished & its a one-way communication; and

Supportive Behaviorextending help to complete a task and facilitating behaviors.

The match between S levels and D levels are

S1 -> D1 ,S2 -> D2 ,S3 -> D3,S4 -> D4

Situational Leadership 2

SLII® – the Purpose & Goal

SLII® is more practical approach to leadership style switching based on task and follower’s development level on that task. It provides more meaningful name to development levels & partnering between leaders and followers for effective outcome.

The key concept of SLII® model is – It is not something you do to people; it is something you do with them. And its main purposes are to

1. Open up communication—increase the frequency and quality of conversations about performance and development
2. Help others develop competence and commitment
3. Teach others how to provide their own direction and support

SLII® also follows leadership switching depends on the task & its goal is to match the leadership style that is appropriate to an individual’s development level at each stage of development on a specific goal or task.

What is SLII®?

SLII® defines three important skills for an effective leader. An effective situational leader is able to use three skills:

1. Diagnosis: Assess the follower’s development level

2. Flexibility: using a variety of leadership styles comfortably

3. Partnering for Performance: reaching agreements with individuals about their development level and the leadership style they need to help them achieve individual and organization goals

SLII® Development Level

In SLII®, Blanchard named the four development levels as:

D1: Enthusiastic Beginner
D2: Disillusioned Learner
D3: Capable but Cautious Contributor
D4: Self-Reliant Achiever

For further studies, one can go through below references & can attend workshops & seminars in Ken Blanchard companies website, nineth house leadership solutions website.

Note: Situational Leadership® is a registered trademark of the Center for Leadership Studies, Inc.www.situational.com, Situational Leadership® II(SLII®) and The One Minute Manager® are registered trademark of The Ken Blanchard Companies

References and further reading:

1) An article by Ken Blanchard – Recognition and Situational Leadership® II, 1997

2) Above article in one website – http://www.qualitydigest.com/sep96/onemin.htm

3) Situational Leadership®: Conversations with Paul Hersey

4) Blanchard, K., Zigarmi, D., and Nelson, B., “Situational Leadership® after 25 Years: A Retrospective.” The Journal of Leadership Studies – Nov ’93.

5) Blanchard, K & others , Leadership and the One Minute Manager®, ’85.

6) A blog post – http://virk.wordpress.com/2007/08/01/situational-leadership/

7) A blog post – http://thebookshare.blogspot.com/2007/12/situational-leadership-ii.html

What is Stakeholder Analysis? – Part 3

This topic is continuation of earlier posts what is stakeholder analysis? – Part 1 & what is stakeholder analysis? – Part 2

In this final post we discuss the three essential steps in stakeholder analysis in detail. Following are the vital steps in any stakeholder analysis:

* Stakeholder identification and documenting their interests (+ve or -ve) in the project

* Assessing the power of, importance of & level of impact upon each stakeholder

* Identifying how best to engage stakeholders in the project by analyzing their reactions or response in different situations.

1) Stakeholder identification and documenting their interests (+ve or -ve) in the project

This is the first step in stakeholder analysis. In Stakeholder identification process, project manager with the help of project management team need to identify all individual or organizations impacted by the project, and documenting their interests. Stakeholder identification is critical for any project – usually it is done early planning stage, and complete knowledge about stakeholders increases probability of project success.

Key stakeholder identification may be easy task to do. General list of key stakeholders are:

Project Manager,

Customer/user, Project team members,

Performing organization,

Project management team,

Sponsor and

major influencers.

Above key stakeholders are actively involved in the project & whose interests may be affected as a result of project execution or project completion.

Identifying other or secondary stakeholders can be done either brainstorming or interviewing with experts/project management team on the project area. Project manager can start with an analysis of the stakeholders and then link them to specific threat and opportunity factors.

Some of the key questions project manger may ask at this step include(not limited to):

• Who is threatening the target of this project?
• Who is most dependent on this project?
• Has there been a similar project in the market? If so, to what extent did it succeed? Who was in charge and how did local stakeholders respond?
• Who possesses claims – including legal jurisdiction and customary use – over the project/resources at stake?
• Is any government departments to be involved in this project?
• Are there national and/or international bodies involved in this project because of specific laws or treaties?
• Who are the people or groups most knowledgeable about, and capable of dealing with the project at stake?
• Are the stakeholders and their interests stable across the globe or is there any identifiable pattern exists?
• Are there major events/trends/activities currently affecting the stakeholders?
• Is this project replaceable by other project(s)?

Best tool in identifying the key stakeholders and their interests is brainstroming. Begin by brainstorming all possible stakeholders using a questionnaire(like the one listed above). Then research the general stakeholder behavior. Talk to various stakeholders, and ask them who they would see as potential stakeholders for the initiative in question. The list of stakeholders may grow or shrink as the analysis progresses, and the understanding deepens. Further, try to learn about each stakeholder group in as much depth as possible.

2) Assessing the power of, importance of & level of impact upon each stakeholder

In this step, stakeholders are organized and categorized according to their likely influence over decisions to be made, and the likely impact of project decisions upon them.

Key questions for this second step in a stakeholder analysis include(not limited to):

• Who is directly responsible for decisions on issues important to the project?
• Who holds positions of responsibility in interested organizations?
• Who is influential in the project area (both thematic and geographic areas)?
• Who will be affected by the project?
• Who will promote/support the project, provided that they are involved?
• Who will obstruct/hinder the project if they are not involved?
• Who has been involved in the area (thematic or geographic) in the past?
• Who has not been involved up to now but should have been?

Power – Interest grid (as shown below) is the best tool to plot the stakeholders based on the outcome of above questions. Depend on the quadrant a stakeholder plotted, project manager need to plan his future actions.

Explanation on actions for these quadrants already available in Stakeholder Analysis – Part 2.
Power-Interest Stakeholder Grid

3) Identifying how best to engage stakeholders in the project by analyzing their reactions or response in different situations

Finally, the third step involves determining how to involve the different stakeholders. Different types of stakeholders will be engaged in different ways in the various stages of the project, from gathering and giving information, to consultation, dialogue, working together, and partnership. Determining who needs or wants to be involved, and when and how that involvement can be achieved provides the basis for developing collaborations.

Once stakeholder views are understood, a decision can be made on whether to pursue collaboration. The importance of the process in planning and conducting successful collaborations cannot be overemphasized. Good-faith efforts are often derailed because the parties are not skilled in working together, and because insufficient attention is given to designing and managing it. Using an inclusive, transparent approach during project development and implementation will help build ownership and commitment. If it is not possible or realistic to have all key stakeholders involved from the outset, then a process for gradual involvement may be needed.

( Reference : Stakeholder Collaboration by Ecoregional Conservation Strategies Unit, Research and Development, WWF, Washington)

A note on Product Scope & Project Scope

In Project Management context, clarification on Product Scope and Project Scope is important & it helps easy management of the project.

We discussed on terms Project , Product & relation between Project Life Cycle and Product Life cycle earlier. Just a recap here:

Project is the one which is executed to create a unique product or services; and

Product is the outcome of a Project.

With above definition in mind let us review their scope definition:

Product scope: The features and functions that characterize a product, service, or result

Project scope: The work that needs to be accomplished to deliver a product, service, or result with the specified features and functions. [1]

Product scope can remain constant at the same time that project scope expands which is called as Progressive elaboration. Progressive elaboration should not be confused with scope creep. Progressive elaboration is giving more details for the already defined scope and not increasing the project scope. And
Scope creep is adding features and functionality (project scope) without addressing the effects on time, costs, and resources, or without customer approval.


My building contractor estimated the work on my house construction. He thought that he will be using special type of cement for concreting. But that special cement was not available in our place. He explained me who was responsible for ordering and delivering the materials from his side. Taking on that responsibility doesn’t change the product scope (house construction), but now the activity (in project scope) & its responsibility was completely explained. (Progressive elaboration)

After contractor started the work with the plan & estimate, my wife suggested me to add a wall construction near the entrance. But this was different from what we agreed. So, contractor told me this was an extra work and he did it with extra money. (Scope creep)

[1]. PMBOK® Guide – 3rd edition

Preventive Actions

Though Preventive Action term is often used with Quality Management Systems, but it is vital and used widely in all knowledge areas esp. Project Integration, HR, Quality & Risk.

Some processes recommend preventive actions as output and few other processes takes the approved preventive actions as input to bring the project into compliance with project management plans.

Preventive Actions are documented direction to perform an activity that can reduce the probability of negative consequences associated with project risks.

Preventive actions are recommended in anticipation of possible problems and they are generally output from monitoring and controlling process group. Preventive actions may also include contingent actions taken to reduce the seriousness of a future problem if it should occur. Depends on the nature of responses to preventive actions, sometimes, they may results in a change request.

A simple example of Preventive action would be providing first aid kits in each block of organization and posting list of emergency phone numbers inside lifts.

Project manager and project management team along with all stakeholders need to review recommended preventive actions and debate on the effectiveness and implementation procedures before they are submitted for approval. Only approved preventive actions are later implemented.

Preventive action is a proactive process to identify opportunities for improvement rather than a simple reaction to identified problems. Preventive action include investigation, action, review, and further action if so required and follow Deming’s PDCA cycle.

In Quality management, Recommendation of new preventive actions is done in Quality control process. Preventive action involves action taken to prevent a condition that may exceed established parameters in a manufacturing or development process, which may have been indicated through a QC measurement.

In Quality Assurance process, quality audits confirm the implementation of approved change request, defect repairs, corrective actions, and preventive actions and it may recommends corrective actions.

Taking preventive actions in HR issues reduces the probability and impact of resource problems before they occur. Examples to preventive actions are: training resources beforehand to reduce problems during resource crunch, clarification on roles and responsibilities, project progress and deadlines can increase the team buy-in and reduce problems when they are asked to put extra effort to meet project deadlines.

As mentioned in my earlier post on stakeholder management & analysis, by anticipating stakeholders’ reaction to the project, taking preventive actions can be taken to win their support or minimize potential negative impacts.

Root cause analysis combined with corrective action to help understand the cause of the deviation and potentially prevent recurrence of a similar problem.

[1]. PMBOK® Guide – 3rd edition

Quality is not grade

In general conversation, we use quality and grade interchangeably. But they are not the same as far as Project Quality Management is concerned.

Quality of a product is “the degree to which a set of inherent characteristics fulfill requirements

–American Society for Quality, 2000 standards

Grade is something related to classification of products or services based usually on technical specifications. Grade is based on Scope & not on quality. Example: Various grades of Construction Cements like 33 Grade, 43 Grade , 53 Grade, etc. are available in market.
Different graded items are created with a purpose or requirement and low grade does not mean it is a defective one or low quality one. But low quality product means the product is not meeting requirement and it is defective. And any grade can have defects if it does not meet the requirement.

In software development, limited feature(usually called as demo applications) release and full feature (usually called as full license) release – both can be considered as two different grades of products and not low quality one.

Project manager & the project management team decides the required levels of quality and grade of the product.

More on Project Baselines

In the earlier post, I briefed about definition of baseline and what constitutes project baseline. Now, let us review elaborately on this topic.

A schedule baseline is a project schedule developed from the schedule network analysis used to verify lag and lead time of current project activities against approved deadlines (mainly used in schedule control).

The cost baseline is an authorized budget used to estimate, monitor, and control overall cost performance on the project. Generally, in any organization, a project budget authorization & approval happens in staggered manner(unless it is a small project). So, Cost baseline is developed as a summation of the approved budgets by time period & it is typically displayed in the form of an S-curve.

Scope baseline is used to compare current scope with actual approved scope and decide whether a change, corrective action or preventive action is required (mainly used in scope verification process). Typically, approved detailed scope statement, WBS and WBS dictionary are the scope baseline documents for the project.

The quality baseline records the quality objectives of the project. The quality baseline is the basis for measuring and reporting quality performance as part of the performance measurement baseline. All above 3 baselines are input in identifying quality standards to be followed in the project within the project constraints.

Variance is another term related to baseline. During project execution, variances will require re-baselining (of course update on plans too). These variances can include changes to activity timings, changes in availability of resource, and risks. Such variances may affect the project plan or project documents and may require detailed analysis and development of appropriate project management responses. The results of the analysis can trigger change requests that, if approved, may modify the project management plan or other project documents and possibly require establishing new baselines.

Stakeholders requirements should be clearly understood and need to be incorporated into different plans before these are base-lined.