Hinman Connects Blog

Delegation That Raises Team Performance!
Posted: 10/4/2016

I have the awesome privilege of helping dental teams nationwide create a happier, healthier and higher performing culture.  Together we focus on four core competencies; communication, collaboration, celebration and commitment.  This blog will zero in on delegation, a key aspect of communication that is necessary in developing a high-performing team culture. Clear, positive and effective delegation of performance expectations raises team performance. 

Synonyms for delegate are:  assign, entrust and transfer.  Which is not usually what I see happen when I am observing team members delegating to one another.  Instead, I often see a lot of telling, ordering and just plain barking commands.   Which ends up being neither positive nor effective. 

The Delegation Process:

• Start out clarifying what you would like to be done.  Take the time to explain clearly by defining who, what, when, where, why, and how.  We get so busy and in a hurry…we want to dump the information and run.  It’s what I call a flyby.  Avoid flybys!  If you don’t have time to delegate clearly wait until you do. 

• Ask the receiver of the task what they already have on their plate.  It may be necessary to re-prioritize the task list if timing is an issue. 

• Ask the receiver of the task if they have any questions about how to complete the task.  Answer any questions they may have. 

• If it is more than one step, write it down in bullet point objectives.

• If it is a longer project, schedule check in times (no this does not mean you do not trust them…it allows you to assist with feedback if necessary).

• Discuss and agree on a realistic time or date to complete the task.  If you don’t set a date, it will create unclear performance expectations.  Without a date, it is not a goal only a dream.

Detailed job descriptions are important as they create clarity in training and performance expectations.  Have you ever asked someone for help only to hear, “it’s not my job”?  That is a huge pet peeve of mine.  You can avoid the phrase, “it’s not my job”, by adding the following statement to all job descriptions.  Your job from the moment you clock in to the moment you clock out is whatever is Legal, Ethical & within your Licensure to help the practice thrive!  I suggest reviewing the phrase whenever you are hiring someone new, performing a performance review, or whenever behavior or attitude deems it necessary.

Creating a priority hierarchy also clarifies delegation of performance expectations on when to do what.  I utilize the rocks, pebbles and sand analogy.  A rock is anything that is important and urgent (needs to be done that day) or there will be negative consequences for the practice.  The biggest rock is always the patient right in front of us.  Everyone helps everyone with their rocks (as long as it is legal, ethical and within their licensure) before going on to their own pebbles and sand.  Once all rocks are completed, the team member may move on to their pebbles.

Pebbles are also very important but not urgent.  Pebbles are never delegated because they can be done another day without affecting the practice negatively.  Everyone is responsible for their own pebbles.  A pebble can eventually become a rock if left undone based on change in urgency.  For example ordering supplies might become a rock if you must order that day or you will run out of necessary supplies before they arrive.  Even washing uniforms may become a rock if there are none available for the next day and it is close to closing.

Sand is the filler to fill in open time with cleaning and organizing.  Sand is also never delegated.  Everyone is responsible for their own.  This helps to prevent delegating the things that are less desirable. 

Cross training raises the level of delegation of performance expectations by enabling team members to know how to support each other better.  I have found having clinical and non-clinical team members observe each other goes a long way in raising job awareness.  Everyone will feel more empowered to support their co-workers (as long as it is Legal, Ethical & within their Licensure) resulting in a win for the patients, the practice and the team!  

I would love to have you come join me as I present at the 105th Hinman Dental Meeting, March 23-25, 2017 in Atlanta, GA.  I will be going into more depth in my courses, “Delivering W.O.W. Service – People Will Forget Everything Except How You Made Them Feel”, and “Rise to Success – Systems and Strategies That Build High Performing Teams!”

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