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Errors Inexperienced PMs Make: Delegation (Part 3) Followup and Closing April 2, 2013

Posted by thefieldgeneral in Leadership, Project Management.
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If you’ve delegated work, several questions still remain. How often and how deeply should you check up on progress? What do you do when the project is complete? How do you make sure that your team finishes the task with excellence?

Thanks to  familymwr @http://www.flickr.com/photos/familymwr/

Thanks to familymwr @http://www.flickr.com/photos/familymwr/

Followup

When you delegate tasks or projects, it is important that you followup. The “inspect what you expect” principal is covered in my post “The problem is at the top. Management is the problem” where I examine some principals put forward by Deming. In a nutshell this principal says that the act of inspection often actually helps generate the results we expect.

A good rule of thumb is to followup once per week, but vary the depth of the followup. Once per month I try to do a face to face deep dive with the participants. They give me a formal status report. Once per month I do a driveby and ask how things are going. The remaining weeks I will shoot an email and ask for updates. Depending on how busy I am and what is going on, my concistency with this varies, but it is a good standard.

Another thing I do is periodic skip level meetings. The key here is that the skip level meetings primary purpose is not to check up on the project. The skip level meetings are intended to assess moral and allow a general discussion of how things are going with the individual. Invariably, however, the health of and problems of the project get discussed. You find out things that your delegates either can’t or won’t tell you.

Each of these check-ins is a dipstick test, it should be brief and painless. However, you must be ready to investigate deeper if something comes up. If the dipstick is dry, and you don’t put a quart of oil in, you may be facing major engine problems down the road.

Closing the delegation

It is important that you take the time and effort to officially close out delegated responsibilities with the team. I have found several projects still active months or even years later because I never let the delegates know that management considered the project closed and they could drop it. Here are some Key principals:

Have a final, formal meeting to close the project. Like the formal meeting to kick off the project this officially takes the responsibility from the delegates. It also removes their authority. This is helpful in them mentally moving past the project.

If the responsibility is operational and thus will never go away, I would suggest having a periodic review of the responsibility separate from reviewing the employee. Business needs change. Goals change. Scope changes. This is independent of how good a job the individual is doing. A periodic review of the responsibility may lead to new approaches, added scope, or even closing down the operation if the business need has changed. Like personnel reviews, this is best done every 3, 6, or 12 months.

Celebrate the close of the delegation. Talk about victories and include them on the persons personnel review. Note difficulties and try to see how to grow the employee into future successes. This step is important in recognizing the growth of our employees and providing next steps.

Do you have any other ideas about follow up or closing down a delegated project?

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