At busy times, the only practical way for managers and team leaders to manage expectation is via delegation. Where this tends to not deliver results is where the person delegating the work is not able to follow-up on the work as a key element to the success of the project. If you are fortunate to have a great team around you which can be relied upon, then a large proportion of the resource management aspect of the given project is dealt with by whoever you delegate the work to; however, it’s worth bearing in mind that people have different approaches and different capabilities in terms of project management, and that workloads are constantly in flux. This is where it is important to show strong leadership, and accept the burden of final deadline satisfaction (which manifests itself as following up, asking for updates, communicating issues and renegotiating expectations where necessary).
It’s also worthwhile realizing that colleagues are often part-way up a slope of learning processes, and eventually, improving those processes – and the other departments whose work they touch. Try to put yourself in the shoes of the other person and develop an understanding of everything they have to deal with, both in terms of the unfamiliar work you just assigned to them, concurrently with their day-to-day workload and department managerial expectations placed upon them.
People are only human, which is a double-edged sword. Human beings have an amazing capacity to learn and absorb stress. People also make mistakes, and are frequently called upon to do amazing things in times of stress when they are simply not able. This is not their personal failing, but a failing in circumstance management, and that is partly down to you.
Do ask yourself if it is really necessary to delegate a task. There is an old saying, “if you want something done right….then ….”. This does not represent a failing of the wider planet as a whole in comparison to your own expectations, your high standards or your ego. Sometimes, people are just really busy, and in actuality, your project request is just garbage. So, yeah, do it yourself.
There are reasons why your instructions are not followed, and if you don’t listen to them, then the failing is yours and yours alone. If you want something done right, in terms of your own belief system (which is not real) and your own project management efforts based on your own schedule (which, again, is not real), then suck it up and do it without criticizing the best efforts of others.
There are ways around this. They involve process refinement, best practice, two way communications, empathy and the ability of people to whom you delegate work to just say ‘no’.
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