Delegation, Follow-Up and a Culture of Trust

3/15/2016

We here at TMC have been affirming the impact of workplace culture on productivity and engagement for years. Our message is simple: When organizational leaders foster an inclusive workplace culture in which employees feel valued, both productivity and engagement are high.  

One of the key elements of creating such a workplace culture is instilling trust. And one of the best ways to instill trust is to delegate.

However, it can be very hard for managers to delegate tasks to others in the workplace. After all, doing something him or herself ensures it gets done to the manager’s own standards. But refusing to delegate not only overburdens the person in charge, thus lowering productivity, but it shows employees that their manager does not trust them, thus lowering engagement.

For managers who are uneasy about delegating, they can employ the practice of rigorous follow-up. Checking in with progress is an important way to make sure the project is being done to their standards while still showing the employee that they trust them enough to let them take control of the project.

Following up should be done on a pre-determined, regular basis. Managers should schedule – in advance – follow-up sessions with the employees working on the project. During the sessions, managers should pose open-ended questions about progress and ask their employees if there is anything they need in order to complete the project. This sort of dialogue benefits both parties – it conveys the manager’s trust in the employees’ abilities while allowing him or her to keep abreast of any issues that may derail progress. On the contrary, if the manager overtly questions the employees’ methods or gives intensive directives on the steps they should take, it could be interpreted as micro managing. 

Delegating work frees up a manager’s time and also shows employees they are trusted to do important work. This benefits productivity and employee engagement. For the manager who is concerned about outcomes, follow-up is necessary, though it must be done in an open-minded and respectful way that does not make employees feel that their integrity is being questioned.