“Hey John, can you do me a favor?”
This is how I started my delegation strategy with my team members.
Every Monday, my team held a weekly meeting for over three years. And every Monday, I hosted the meeting, except at some point, I wasn’t.
And this is how I did it…
Our Monday meeting was my test ground for my delegation strategy, and most of the time, I asked someone else on the team to host the meeting for me.
Meeting discipline was my thing. I designed every aspect around getting people together for an hour on Zoom, getting things done without reaching meeting fatigue. We had an agenda, a host, a process, and final notes. Everything was well planned and executed.
So, having someone else take the reigns of my wagon was challenging. However, I knew I had to give that power away because when a meeting becomes effective, it becomes a vital ritual in a productive team. And vital things cannot depend on my availability.
I initially designed my delegation strategy around a simple round-robin. Every week we had a different host, but it quickly became dysfunctional. People contacted me before the meeting to ensure their readiness, as they knew the importance of conducting the session effectively. In addition to that, the whole “running the meeting” situation stressed the most introverted individuals. With a round-robin mechanism, I could not simply exclude some of them, not even to protect their mental health. I needed something better.
One day, 10 minutes before the meeting started, I called for the help of John (the name is fictional, but the whole story is 100% real).
“Hey John, can you do me a favor? I have a little emergency I’m taking care of. Can you run the first part of the meeting today? I should be able to join in 20/25 minutes.”
“Of course, no problem!”
Fifteen minutes in, I joined the meeting. I informed John they could proceed without my involvement as everything ran smoothly.
And for the following weeks, I had emergency after emergency after emergency. I got stuck in the traffic, flooded my basement, my children were to be picked up from school unexpectedly, etc.
I asked my team members to pick up the meeting for me every time, and they performed excellently. But let’s see why:
- It was asked as a favor, not as a duty. This allowed people to back out, eventually.
- I told them I was joining a few minutes in, so they knew I had their back.
- I asked individuals I knew were at least 80% ready for the task without unnecessary pressure on those not ready yet.
In the following years, I applied this method to every management process I have been in charge of. Most of my essential tasks were delegated to others. No one ever noticed, and no one ever complained.
And this is how I helped many people grow into their shoes as managers and leaders. Just asking one favor after the other.