Earlier this month we discussed the need for leaders to have patience with the delegation process. Before they can expect to reap the rewards of delegation, leaders must first invest the necessary time and effort.
One of the most essential elements of that investment is feedback. When delegating, effective feedback is an absolute necessity to ensure the delegate, and the leader, know where they stand.
What distinguishes constructive criticism from regular criticism is that its primary goal is to help, not chastise.
Rather than simply telling someone their work is inadequate, tell them specifically what needs improvement and how to address it. Pointing to things that a delegate could do better helps to direct their work and improve efficiencies. When done right, constructive criticism will even make your delegate’s job easier.
As your delegate becomes more familiar with their work (and your expectations) the need for criticism will diminish. But until then, don’t forget the “constructive” element of constructive criticism. Make sure to remain patient, helpful, and respectful. Often, the way you say something can be more important than what you say.
Even when constructive, criticism alone isn’t enough. Too many leaders think that constructive criticism and feedback are the same thing. While constructive criticism is an essential type of feedback, it’s only one of many required for strong leadership.
When criticism is the only type of feedback that a leader employs, delegates are likely to feel inadequate and unappreciated. So, when your delegate does something well, make sure you tell them. Leaders that readily give praise and show their appreciation are those who foster the most dedicated and productive employees.
Even after a delegate has mastered a task, and consistently delivers impeccable work, feedback remains a critical part of the delegation process. Without occasional affirmations, even well-established delegates may start to feel taken for granted.
If you show your delegates that you value their work, they will be more likely to value your leadership. The most effective professional relationships are always founded on mutual respect and appreciation.
Another mistake that many leaders make is treating feedback as a one-way street. The best leaders invite their delegates to provide feedback, not just receive it. If delegates are hesitant to do so without being prompted, ask them questions directly —
“Am I being clear enough when giving assignments?”; “Are your professional needs being met?”; “Is there something I can do to improve our working relationship?”
Even if a delegate has nothing but good things to say, the invitation to share is meaningful in itself. It shows that you value the relationship and see your delegate as a collaborator… not a subject.
Feedback is the most effective tool a leader has to guide and motivate their team. And in order to get the most of delegation, it’s imperative to use it effectively — where criticism always seeks to help, and praise never becomes scarce.
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