We have celebrated both the New Year AND the Chinese New Year. Time to get back to work!
And while we are busy getting things done, a lot of times we need to delegate at least part of our work to someone else, whom we hope we could share our workload.
However, sometimes the execution of such work remained way below our expectations, and we couldn't help but feel frustrated that we actually increase (rather than decrease) our workload by delegating it to someone else.
Hence, this month's topics:
This issue's main article is on "Excellence of Execution and Delegation", and we like to draw your attention on some of the issues that bosses care most about, and how you can help your boss achieve those. If you also happen to be a boss too, here are some suggestions that you can give your staff so that they could work better with you.
Excellence of Execution and Delegation
by c.j. Ng
On the surface, Gene seems like a diligent employee. He arrives to work on time, and displays great attitude to everyone – superiors, peers and even the office cleaner.
However, Glenn, Gene’s boss, somehow finds that there’s something amiss in Gene’s performance. While Gene is always accommodating to any requests or assignments given to him, there are many times that he does the work wrongly, or misses deadlines completely. Whenever Glenn asks if Gene needs help or further clarification, Gene will always reply that everything is ok.
Unfortunately, for the more difficult or complex assignments, Gene will almost always drop the ball and will either make mistakes or even not do anything.
Eventually, Glenn decided to have a heart-to-heart talk with Gene and told Gene about how he had fallen short of expectations. At first, Gene simply looked down and stayed silent. Sensing that Gene could be interpreting the situation as a reprimand, Glenn decided to ease Gene’s concerns and.
“You always have had a great attitude to work, Gene. As there are times that you tend to make mistakes or miss deadlines, I just want to help you to find out what could be an obstacle you face, and how I can help you overcome it.” Glenn said, seeking to assure Gene.
“I don’t know. I just feel I don’t get the support from my colleagues when I don’t know how to do a certain thing.” Said Gene.
“Why didn’t you ask? Why didn’t you tell me?” asked Glenn.
“I don’t know.” replied Gene.
“Don’t you realize the importance of meeting deadlines?” enquired Glenn, hoping to understand how Gene was thinking.
“But I already tried my best! I just don’t know how to do it!” Gene gasped in one of the few situations that he actually raised his voice.
Glenn spent the rest of the conversation with Gene trying to find out why Gene was not reaching out to get help, and why there was the lack of feedback if things hit a wall. Gene, on the other hand, withdrew himself from Glenn’s probing questions and remained largely silent. At the end of the conversation, Glenn asked Gene if he could seek help and support whenever there was a problem or challengeGene, as always, replied yes.
However, nothing improved thereafter. In fact, there were more mistakes and
more deadlines were missed.
And worse, Gene’s work attitude had changed from bright
and chirpy to one that was gloomy and grumpy.
And Glenn was left wondering what went wrong.
7 Essential Behaviours for Effective Delegation and
One of the key challenges faced
by managers currently is the lack of the ability to
execute by the people whom the managers have delegated
some work to. Cases similar to the above, as well as
other forms of execution and delegation issues are very
common in many workplaces.
In the New York Times bestseller
The Discipline of Getting Things Done” by
Larry Bossidy and Ram Charam, there are 7 essential
behaviours for effective delegation and execution. These
7 Essential Behaviours for Effective Delegation and Execution
One of the key challenges faced by managers currently is the lack of the ability to execute by the people whom the managers have delegated some work to. Cases similar to the above, as well as other forms of execution and delegation issues are very common in many workplaces.
In the New York Times bestseller “Execution: The Discipline of Getting Things Done” by Larry Bossidy and Ram Charam, there are 7 essential behaviours for effective delegation and execution. These are:
While the book looks at how to achieve company-wide execution of business strategies, by senior managers we could also adapt the usage to the execution and delegation of day-to-day work by middle and line managers as well. We’ll just look into a few salient key behaviours to illustrate how you can achieve excellence of execution and delegation in your workplace.
To start off, we can look into the key areas of following through, and rewarding the doers. In the above case, perhaps what Gene needed was for his manager, Glenn, to follow through with the progress of the work that had been delegated. Depending on the nature of the work, as well as the person being delegated the work, different levels of monitoring and following through are required respectively.
At the same time, there could also be a pervasive culture of people not being held accountable for results throughout the organization. If this is the case, then perhaps there could be more rewards for the doers (as opposed to those who simply talk, and not do). In the case above, the doers could be Gene’s colleagues who meet deadlines and deliver results, OR they could be people who willingly to ask for help when faced with problems, and happily help others when being approached.
Rewards need not be monetary, and they need not be expensive. Sometimes, a public commendation could be all it takes to give recognition for the doers, and make others follow the deed as a good example.
Know Your People and the Work You Give Them
Simplistically, there are 2 kinds of work:
Tasks are repetitive, have established procedures, and sometimes need guidance and direction to complete. Responsibilities will encompass work that do not have established procedures, and the doer will have to use one’s initiative, abilities and decision making to achieve expected results.
At the same time, when the work delegated increases in complexity, the more likely it will be delegated to a team, rather than be completed by an individual.
In terms of knowing the people, there are also a few aspects to consider, such as:
For the case above, there are a few possibilities:
Whatever the case might be, Glenn will have to re-look at the kind of work he’s delegating to Gene, and also understand Gene from different angles.. In response to Gene’s behavior, Glenn has a few options. He could:
Setting CLEAR Goals and Priorities
When delegating responsibilities to a person, it’s critical that
the person is held accountable for the results.
Limited by Time
Limited by Time
In many cases, employees with a healthy sense of responsibility would like to understand:
Hence, by setting CLEAR goals, managers could ensure the person being delegated the responsibility could be held accountable, while at the same time foster sufficient autonomy to deliver good results.
Eventually, managers would also need to have a sense of self-awareness so as to what are some of the strengths and weaknesses that the manager has, and how to have the courage and fortitude to ask for the right support from their team members. Managers would need to learn to give frank, direct and yet sensitive assessments and feedback to the team members that they had delegated work to.
Need help in achieving excellence of execution and delegation? Simply e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org or call +86-136 7190 2505 or Skype: cydj001 and arrange to buy me a mocha. All information shall be kept in confidence.
Power Breakfast Hour: 11 Mar 2014
Excellence of Execution and Delegation
VENUE: Crowne Plaza Shanghai • 400 Panyu Road (near Fahuazhen Road) • 上海银星皇冠酒店 • 番禺路 400 号 （靠法华镇路）
PRICE: RMB 200 ONLY!
To make this a more conducive discussion, we are expecting a small group of about 15 people only. The room can only take in 18, so please register early to avoid disappointments. Please e-mail your registrations too email@example.com
Tips for Managers:
Empowering workers is considered the acme of enlightened
management in the West, where employees are typically
looking for independence from their bosses and
“ownership” of their jobs. But try to empower employees
in China, and you’re likely to get the opposite of what
A certain Harvard MBA with a stellar track record running a Fortune500 company’s manufacturing unit in the U.S. came to China expecting employees to respond to empowerment just as workers in the States had done. Perceiving that part of the company’s manufacturing process in China needed to be changed, he refrained from laying down the law and instead asked the senior team members in China to come up with their own recommendations.
Two weeks later, nothing had been done.
“What’s wrong with these
people?” he asked. “If I
empowered my team in the U.S.,
they would have delivered as
This reaction is common among newly arrived Western
executives. He wasn’t wrong to try to empower his
employees. But he didn’t understand that Chinese culture
and history work to prevent employees from taking
advantage of empowerment when it’s offered to them.
First, Chinese tend to be fearful of making mistakes, especially with a new leader. They worry about inadvertently straying too far from where the leader wants them to be, and they see risk in asking questions that might make them appear ignorant and expose them to painful criticism.
Second, they may suspect that the leader is asking them to take on some of his responsibilities because he is lazy or incompetent.
Third, empowerment threatens to disrupt society’s order
and thus violates the Confucian respect for hierarchy
and clearly defined roles that is embodied in the
popular saying “King is king, minister is minister,
father is father, and son is son.” As a consequence,
employees in China who are directed to think and act
independently often do the opposite, warily hunkering
down until they can figure out what’s really on the
The best approach is to explain to employees how empowerment will boost company performance in the long run. Quote from one or two articleson empowerment in respected publications. Then demonstrate what you’re talking about. This can’t be done from afar: Be present as your team goes through the beginning steps of a project so that members can see first-hand what you mean by empowerment. That will help allay the team’s fear that it might stray too far and that it might be working for a lazy or incompetent boss.
As a management practice, empowerment has just as much
value in China as it does everywhere else. It can unlock
employees’ ideas and stimulate deeper engagement. While
few Chinese firms have fully embraced it, employee
empowerment is commonplace in multinationals operating
there. In a number of companies, including Corning
China, Bayer CropScience China, Tianjin Alstom Hydro,
and Xian-Janssen, I’ve seen empowered workers drive
innovation and bottom-line performance. But like many of
the West’s best practices, empowerment can’t simply be
imposed. Chinese managers and employees need to see why
it works and how it can benefit them.
Frank T. Gallo is the greater China chief leadership
consultant for Aon Hewitt in Beijing and the author of
Business Leadership in China..
About Directions Management Consulting
Directions Management Consulting is the partner of LeadershipIQ in China and Asia. LeadershipIQ helps more than 125,000 leaders every year through the facts drawn from one of the largest ongoing leadership studies ever conducted is used to help companies apply resources where the best possible results be achieved.
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Currently, Directions Management Consulting has served clients such as Delphi Packard, InterContinental Hotels Group, LELO, Bristol-Myers Squibb, Roche, Philips Lighting, Carrier, Ingersoll Rand, Kulzer Dental etc.
Directions Management Consulting will increase its efforts to conduct leadership studies in China and other parts of Asia, so that more companies apply resources where the best possible results be achieved in this part of the world.
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