When I took a class on CPR a few years ago the instructor gave us one of the best lessons I’ve ever had on delegation.
She said that when you come across some who isn’t breathing, you need to get someone else to call 911 for emergency response before you begin CPR. Yelling “Somebody call 911!” turned out to be the wrong thing to do in this scenario. There is a great chance that no one will call 911 if you just yell for anybody to do it.
The instructor said that you should make eye contact with someone nearby, point at them, and say very firmly “You! Call 911 and have them send help to this address!” Maintain eye contact until they confirm and pull out a cell or go to find a phone. Then you can start with the CPR.
It is so easy for leaders to make this same mistake in working with their teams. The leader says that he wants someone to take care of this issue, problem, or opportunity and then is shocked when no one does so.
Ambiguity is the enemy of effective delegation.
We all must be as specific as possible: I am delegating to YOU. I expect YOU to achieve these outcomes with these parameters.
Try it the next time you need to hand off something. I’m looking at YOU!