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Foster Organizational Growth with Leadership and Delegation
Effectively developing key personnel is a key to building an effective business structure
By Robert Gitman
Whether you are a laboratory owner or manager, take a moment and be honest with yourself about your abilities to supervise others. Do you truly delegate tasks and responsibilities or do you micromanage the process?
Ask yourself the following questions:
• Do you experience high turnover of personnel?
• Is morale low throughout the laboratory?
• Are technicians not motivated to make suggestions that improve workflow, quality, etc?
• Are productivity and profitability declining?
Assuming you made good hiring decisions and have a good group of people working with you, real organizational growth comes when you realize when to nitpick and when to simply let go and delegate. A dedicated individual delivers far more value performing in an environment of freedom than when someone is continually looking over her/his shoulder. Let's examine this concept in relation to the four previously stated questions:
• If employee turnover is an issue, perhaps it's due to the fact that people are not given the freedom to do their job properly, they feel that their talents are being wasted, or they are not experiencing professional growth. Anyone who is capable and ambitious will not continue to work in an environment where someone causes frustration and blocks their career growth.
• If morale is an issue, perhaps your personnel do not feel they can contribute in a meaningful way and that their suggestions are not taken seriously. This feeling that personnel cannot make a difference can lead to a lack of commitment to the objectives of the laboratory and general apathy.
• If motivation is an issue, perhaps your personnel are not providing you with consistent quality work because people tend to give up and just decide to go along with whatever you want, simply because it is easier than making suggestions that may "rock the boat."
• If productivity and profitability are declining, perhaps you are spending so much time "working in the business" that you do not have time to "work on the business." If you're bogged down in the details of micromanaging the process and the personnel, you won't have the time to use your creative talents to run the business and create the bright future the laboratory and your personnel deserve.
The primary component of moving toward high-performance leadership and delegation is trust. What, and how, you delegate is one of the core indicators of the trust levels between you and your personnel. Simply assigning unwanted or overflow tasks is not high-performance delegation. Leading personnel so that they grow both personally and professionally will cause the laboratory to follow suit. Keep these principles in mind when delegating:
• Delegate assignments that challenge people and enable them to grow beyond their current skill set(s).
• Give people the authority to make decisions and deliver the required results. • When something goes wrong, focus on the learning experience and what could have been done differently to enable people to avoid future mistakes.
• Create an environment through which vigorous and open debate of ideas can occur.
• Set up systems that monitor performance and measure progress.
• Build relationships with people that inspire them to put forth their best efforts for you.
As you give more responsibility and autonomy to your most capable personnel, focus your conversation less on how they should approach a task and more on the questions of what and why. Explain the scope of the task, and define their level of authority and the goal, eg, whether they should present recommendations for your approval or make a decision. Also explain why the task or initiative is important. It's also important for people to understand that they may need to collaborate with others to achieve their assignment.
A great collaborative method is to start the morning with a huddle. Morning huddles have the ability to energize personnel and make sure everyone is set up for success. For example, have a representative from each product department in attendance who is responsible for reporting a "to-do" list for the day, sharing any big wins, and letting others know if help or guidance is needed on a specific issue or problem. This way, everyone is on the same page and feels aligned and potential problems are solved much sooner.
It's important to be aware that your personnel won't do things exactly the same way you would. Challenge yourself to distinguish between the style in which people approach tasks and the quality of the results. As you delegate more and coach those who need it, take notice if you have been successful in expanding people's skill set(s) so they can operate more autonomously, and whether you've made a fundamental change in how you're spending your time and energy. If the answer is "yes," then you have succeeded in fostering growth through leadership-truly a win for your personnel and your laboratory.
Robert Gitman is the company administrator at Thayer Dental Laboratory in Mechanicsburg, PA.