How good are you at delegating? Do you just divide parts of a project evenly based on how many people are involved, or do you do it based on skillset? Or maybe you’re the control freak that won’t let your team members spread their wings and take control. Whichever camp you belong to, there’s a wrong way and a right way to delegate tasks.
Every key account manager at some point will need to delegate tasks to other members of the team. Are you prepared? Let’s take a look at delegation principles that every key account manager needs to understand to the fullest.
Understand Where Everyone Stands
Before you can start delegating tasks and phases of a project to specific teams and individuals, you need to understand where everyone stands. Everyone has a unique set of skills and abilities that will make them more adept at one thing over the rest, and the best managers will leverage those skills. It wouldn’t make much sense to put the accounting team in charge of client relationships just as much as it wouldn’t make sense to do the inverse. You want to leverage these skills and natural talents for great results.
You should hold a meeting to get a better feel for the intangibles that might not appear on a resume. For example, while it’s easy to assume that the accounting team is good with numbers, you might not have known that one member has experience implementing a goal similar to the current one. Hold a meeting and walk everyone through the project so they can understand what you need the most and the skills that you are looking for when it comes time to delegate tasks and jobs.
Open Lines of Communication
If your team doesn’t have a full understanding of the project or goal, they won’t be able to speak up and delegate for themselves, making the entire delegation process more complicated. In this meeting mentioned in the previous section, you’ll need to communicate not only the skills you’re looking for but also the primary goals of the project.
Speak to the team about your needs, wants, and problem areas that affect the project. Sometimes having a solid understanding of not only the best-case scenario but also the worst-case scenario can paint a clearer picture. Understanding where the project can go wrong along with how it can go wrong will allow team members to come to terms with their capabilities. If they know that time is a significant factor, they might not go for a certain part of the project because they are precise and need more time to get it done. That doesn’t mean they are out of the loop entirely, but rather that there is a better role for them somewhere else in the project.
You much also let them know how flexible you are when it comes to these areas and also let them know where you are entirely inflexible. Sometimes in order to keep the project moving forward, you can’t account for much error, and every organization will have select areas where they can’t afford to mess up. Whether it’s your high KPIs for client account performance or it’s your minimum referrals in a month, if you can’t budge much, your team needs to be aware of it so they can focus on being 100% perfect in that area, and make some adjustments in others.
You can’t leave the meeting and expect that every person on the team in 100% clear on the project’s needs, goals, wants, problem areas, and flexibility. You need to establish confirmation in some way before you can start divvying up the tasks among team members. Everyone needs a clear understanding of what they’ll be expected of and how they contribute.
To confirm this understanding, you can hold individual meetings with leaders from different teams, or with individual team members if the organization is small enough. Either way, you should try to have them not just parrot back your information, but put it in their own words while allowing space for them to contribute and add ideas. While you might be the leader and are at the helm of the project, your team members bring decades of experience collectively so you should hear them out and see if they have insight into the organization’s processes that you had not considered.
Along with the usual print-outs and memos sent to everyone’s emails, ask for feedback in this initial meeting, and ask for new ideas. Even if the ideas aren’t exactly new and are more of a retread of the information that was discussed, it confirms that everyone is one the same page. Once you know for a fact that each team member knows what needs to be done, along with how it needs to be done, and why it needs to be done, you can start formally delegating specific tasks.
Set a Timetable
With a team that clearly understands the company’s goals, needs, and flexibility for errors, along with confirmation from all relevant parties that they have what it takes to get the project done, it’s time to put a timetable to the project.
You likely need to get a buy-in and commitment from higher-ups that will provide funding and resources, so they need to understand the details as well. Having a timetable can give them a clear perspective on just how long it will take to get done. Every project will be different, and some might take longer than others for various reasons. The most important thing to remember is that you can adjust the timetable and create unrealistic expectations.
Unrealistic expectations end up wasting people’s time. While you want to impress people with how quickly you could get a project done, after they start to see the details of the finished project, they’ll realize that the details were sacrificed in place of saved time. It’s better to get it done right the first time around, or at least close to right, so you should set a timetable that is realistic, if not a bit more conservative than it needs to be to account for errors and mistakes.
Use a project management tool to map out every phase of the project with checkpoints along the way for deliverables and status updates. Those committed to seeing the project succeed need to know where things stand from time to time, so establishing key checkpoints will help satiate them and prevent any unnecessary stressors.
Work with the team to get an idea for their time constraints and how long it will take them to get their job done. Ask about any potential risks associated that might affect their end of the project and calculate them into the overall timetable. Once everyone has given you their time requirements, you can piece it all together in one timetable to provide to higher-ups. Emphasize the benefits of the project and be conservative with your timetable to set yourself up for success down the line.
Once you have a timeline and are pretty clear on what each of the teams will need to do, it’s time to let go and let them do their jobs. Many people will find it hard, especially during their first project, to let people take the reins and do their jobs. Sure, if you don’t trust your team to the fullest, then it makes sense, but that’s not the sign of good leadership.
You bring in new members of the team to make things go smoother and to help with some of the load. When you fail to allow them to run with their skills and go towards the directive, you’re doing a disservice to them, yourself, the organization, and your clients. Trust them, and let them make mistakes and succeed on their own.
Set meetings to follow up with your team and touch base to see where they stand. Depending on the project, if it’s an ongoing thing, you might do this on a regular basis. If it’s a project that has a definite deadline and stopping point, then you might only need to do it once or twice. Either way, work with all of the teams to follow up with them on their accomplishments. Determine what went right and what went wrong throughout the project and make sure that everything got done that needed to.
Feedback is crucial for measuring your success as the leader and implementing the advice into future projects. Too often, people find themselves in the delegating position and feel like they’re royalty almost. Yes, in essence, you get to tell people what to do, but you’re more like a glorified traffic director – and that’s a good thing!
You want your team to trust you, and it’s their voices, concerns, opinions, and praises found in their feedback that will make for better work in the future. For this reason, it’s crucial that you foster an environment and culture that supports this kind of open and honest communication. If you have the time, it’s always better to meet with individual members of the team, but for organizations with dozens of team members, it might be better to send out an email survey to the entire team while meeting with representatives from each area.
Ask the hard questions about what they think you could have done better, the problems they had during the process, and how it could go smoother next time. Did they feel like their skills and experiences were matched for the role? Did this role challenge them in new ways? These are all examples of the kinds of questions that you want to ask the team. With the feedback from these answers, you can implement them in the next delegation project and choose team members that will be best suited for their new roles.
You can’t do everything yourself and delegating key tasks to members of the team based on their skills and experiences is key to success. Too often, people think that anyone can do any task, but the reality is, some people are better suited for parts of a project than others. The secret is to understand who can do what and who struggles with what and making an informed decision based off of that decision.
No matter what the project it, whether it’s implementing a new KAM tool or painting the office’s breakroom, having a timeline and a plan will make everything go much smoother. These delegation principles are basic on the surface but have many applications in key account management. It doesn’t matter if you’re directing the account management team or taking a new approach towards implementing a solution for the client, when you can get everyone on board with a project and good at what they’re doing, everyone wins in the end.
How Kapta Can Help
As an all-in-one enterprise key account management platform, Kapta allows you to do more for your organization’s biggest clients. By getting your account managers out of the spreadsheets and onto the phone, you can focus more on the relationship that you develop with your top 20% of clients rather than pushing digits around. Kapta features a selection of innovative account management tools like Voice of Customer (VOC) Insights, account health score, and account plan templates so you can generate more revenue, build relationships, and achieve your customer’s goals almost automatically. See where you stand with its visualization tools and streamline your workflow with Kapta.