Managing people and facilities takes an exorbitant amount of time and dedication, to be able to produce results at a high level. Outside of the normal day to day tasks, there are special projects being assigned, new procedures and facility management tools to implement, and multiple fires, both large and small, to be squelched. Soon, even the best FM will find themselves stretched. But, passing off responsibility seems almost like losing control for many managerial minded people. There are, however, numerous methods and tools, which can ease this process. Proper delegation is an art and can be easily mishandled, if one is not properly prepared. Below are a few key tips to remember when starting or continuing the delegation process.
Establish Clear Goals and Expectations
Whenever any process is at it's inception, it is imperative to know what is expected and a general timeframe of how long the process will take. Facilities Managers must always take into consideration these factors and it is the same for your delegates. They must know, with substantial detail, what is expected of them, both in quality of work and time of completion. Treat them with the same level of trust and professionalism you would want, but make sure your expectations are realistic. Giving clear parameters are paramount to success.
Delegate to Match Expertise and Authority Level
Once you have established what is expected, make sure your candidate(s) will prove the most likely succeed. Giving someone a challenge is often good for growth, but if your expectations don't match a person's ability or specialties, you are setting them up for failure. Use existing strengths in your workforce to your advantage. And, once their confidence is built up, you can start assigning the more difficult tasks, with greater potential for success.
It is also important to note that a person's authority should match their delegate duties. In other words, you don't want the “rookie” on the team telling the veterans what to do. Your established workforce might not respect the leadership emanating from a source they feel is inferior. Furthermore, it reflects back on you as a sign you don't respect them. Power respects power, but not when it is perceived as forced.
The Learning Curve
Often, when a supervisor is monitoring an employee's work, they are seeing room for improvement and may be feeling that they would go about the task in a different manner. This is only human nature, as you are more of an expert, both in skill and experience and cannot help but have more insight about the whole process. Be careful, then, not to misidentify the learning curve as a lack of intensity or skill. You are attempting to make your workforce more proactive and independently capable. This takes support and guidance as well as room to grow, without fear of being micromanaged at every turn. Keep in mind where you were when you started.
As stated above, choosing to delegate responsibility is often a stretch for FMs as well as the employee(s) involved. Both parties are working outside of their comfort level. Your job as the Facilities leader is to support your workers and your choices regarding said workers. Trust in your own choices as well as the abilities of those around you. These people have been selected for their professionalism and talents. The most effective motivation will, then, come from your support and ability to empower your choices. Giving advice is always helpful, but make sure your advice is helpful and will contribute to success and is not simply micromanaging, because you aren't confident in the process.
Roll the Credits
Once the projects are complete, don't hold back from examining what was successful and the areas for improvement. And, while it is always necessary to critique the process, it is also necessary to trumpet the successes. Ultimately, delegation is all about building confidence, for all parties involved. Once confidence is built, employees will be more apt to take on bigger, more demanding projects. Show your workers that you believe in them and are going to continue to turn to them for their support and expertise in future tasks. Your belief in the delegates only furthers their growth, which will ultimately help the organization to reach its full potential.
Building the Future
With all of the support, confidence and improved abilities, the process of delegation serves one more very important roll; creating future leaders. When one delegates or is delegated to, they are showing that they can be trusted to make decisions, create a plan of action and see the project through to completion. These are some of the most critical facility management skills a good leader can possess and they are being fostered for both your employees and you, as the Facilities Manager. Think of it as on-the-job leadership training. Articulation of the workforce should always be promoted for fear of stagnation otherwise.
Delegation is a tricky process, but repetition helps both you and the team to be more comfortable. Look for ways to make small but meaningful delegations take place at first, then progress to more challenging projects, as time goes on. Always provide support and feedback, while being careful not to stifle the overall process with too much managing. Finally, make sure the job completion is seen as a triumph, even if greater refinement is necessary. You can always build on successes, but too much critique can undermine your foundation. Find a happy balance and see your workers grow into the leaders you know they are.
Editor's Note: This blog post was originally published in January 2015 and has been updated for accuracy and relevance.