How to Delegate in the Aid Worker Context
The art of delegation in the humanitarian field can be challenging, considering the wide variety of backgrounds of those we manage. Perhaps you have heard of monkey management, a popular article from the Harvard Business Review which explains delegation in terms of monkeys (tasks) and how those monkeys have a tendency to jump onto the backs of their managers. This upward delegation burdens you as a leader and can create bottlenecks in decision making, in addition to demotivating staff. My guest today Helen Henderson has been using the monkey management form of delegation, but with a twist: she has adapted it for the aid worker context.
Helen provides eight tips you can use in your everyday management in order to empower your staff, free up your time and make sure those monkeys are well taken care for. Here is a summary of those eight tips:
- Build a respectful relationship with your colleagues from the beginning - a safe environment in which they can fail and feel as if they can go to your for help.
- Early investment pays off! The more time you invest with assisting your direct reports in the beginning, the less dependent they will eventually become.
- When someone comes to you with a problem, get in the habit of asking "what do you think?"
- Reward your managers for empowering their team (put this as part of their performance plan)
- Prioritize your time around delegation and accompaniment of your team as necessary.
- Connect your reports with the best people to help them technically.
- Remember to follow up after you delegate - don't let the monkey die when it's not with you!
- Be careful not to overburden strong performers with too many monkeys.