Q: As a new supervisor, I am finding some challenges in delegating to staff. What advice can you give?

A: Delegation is actually an excellent time-management tool as well as an effective employee-empowerment device. However, it is not just about handing off work that you don’t want to do or giving employees trivial jobs with little responsibility or decision making. Delegation is about involving your staff in business goals and objectives. It is all about giving employees more responsibility, more authority, more accountability and more involvement in decision making.

But delegation is not as simple as people think. It involves entrusting your authority to others to get a job done and this is where new supervisors often face a challenge. In fact, delegating for the first time can cause personal fear and insecurity as it is hard to let go and allow an employee to follow his/her own process. When you delegate, your job is to focus only on results.

While the first rule of thumb with delegation is to delegate as much as possible, you also need to look at what knowledge and skills are required to do a job. Look at delegating projects that will free you up to do more complex work and projects that will provide employee development.

Overall, there is a simple formula that will help make a decision to delegate. It is called the 4D approach: 1) if it doesn’t need to be done at all, drop it; 2) determine if you can delay it; 3) if you can’t drop it or delay it, then do it yourself; and 4) if you don’t drop or delay it and it can be done by someone else, then delegate it.

Q: I am the type of person who has lots of ideas but when I present my ideas to my boss, I don’t feel listened to and very few ideas are accepted. What am I doing wrong?

A. I often find that when employees present ideas, they fail to take into consideration all of the elements of the workplace and so their idea may seem out of context. As a result, I suggest that you train yourself to use the following format for thinking through how your idea would affect your workplace. Take a worksheet, lay out and answer the following questions. 1) What is the situation/problem/challenge? 2) what is the impact on your organization? 3) what are some potential solutions? 4) what is the impact of each of these solutions on your organization? 5) what do you recommend and why?

When you have fully thought out your idea and how it can improve your workplace and have examined things from the “big picture,” I am confident you will find your ideas will gain more acceptance from your boss.

Q: I have been in my job for approximately five years and I find that I am getting bored. I am simply unmotivated. But at the same time, I don’t feel like looking for another job. What should I do?

Barbara Bowes

A. It certainly sounds like you are in quite a rut. This may be because of work-related issues, but it can also be caused by challenges faced in your personal life. If you are bored at work, it signals that you may be a person that does not like routine and that you need more challenge and variety. Individuals with that kind of personal motivator will typically stay in a job for about 21/2 years before they need more challenge and/or move on. You are the only person who can manage your career, so I suggest that you do some soul-searching. Start with asking yourself and clarifying just what does motivate you. Is it independence and autonomy or is it always needing a challenge? Do you thrive on being a technical expert or do you need to be in a helping or social-service type of role. There are a number of self-help books and assessment tools readily available to help you. Reach out and learn more about yourself and what your needs are and then find a career route to meet these needs. You will be wise to do this self-examination prior to moving to another job.

Q: I have recently completed qualifications in a new profession, my second career. However, I am frustrated with my inability to get a job in my new chosen field. What can you suggest?

A. Entering a new profession is always difficult, especially since you will not have experience, nor will you have a broad network of contacts to assist you in your job search. The key is to begin building your network at the very beginning of your new career training. So take a moment now and document who you know that could help you. Networking is built on “who knows whom” and people are quite willing to help you broaden that network. As well, join your professional association and volunteer to sit on a committee so that you can meet new people. Attend meetings and special events as frequently as you can.

Furthermore, develop a skills-based resumé because this strategy will allow you to incorporate all of your skills gained over years of experience. While not necessarily in the same profession, there are indeed many skills that are transferable and would be given consideration. Prepare yourself for interviews by anticipating questions and answering them. Give answers that are parallel to your new profession so that you can indicate similar experiences. Be sure to use this parallel strategy in your cover letter.

Q: Our company will be seeking a new senior manager following the retirement of a long-term employee. Is there anything specific that we should do in this case?

A. My experience suggests that when a long-term manager retires and is replaced with a new incumbent, that new individual can be faced with a good deal of challenge. In particular, this occurs because the work style of the former manager is entrenched and change is difficult for most people. As a result, I suggest that prior to hiring a new manager that your HR manager spend a good deal of time talking to staff in this department to get their input with respect to what a new boss might look like. Once the new manager has been hired, he/she needs to be made aware of the circumstances of the department and provided guidance in how to transition successfully into the new role.

Barbara J. Bowes, FCHRP, CMC is president of Legacy Bowes Group, a Manitoba-based talent management solutions firm. She is also host of the weekly Bowes Knows radio show and is the author of the newly released bestseller, Resume Rescue and Taming the Workplace Tigers. She can be reached at [email protected] 

This initially appeared in the October 2, 2010 edition of The Winnipeg Free Press