Task enabling: a simple skill, we all use it on a countless number of occasions throughout the day. Despite that, it may also be our largest blind spot and hindering performance levels. What am I taking about? Well, how we assign/delegate tasks to subordinates and peers. We do it every day and still get things done I hear you say, so how can it be hindering performance?
Let’s be honest, a key requirement of our roles is the ‘tasking and launching’ of people to complete specific jobs/projects over a specified timeframe. On many occasions, due to the number of competing items for our attention, as well as, the depth and breadth of our own professional experience, we tend to task while on autopilot. We analyse the issue, make an assessment, delegate to the relevant people, provide an objective to be achieve and a timeframe for completion. A simple, automated and routine process.
Jane Dutton, from the University of Michigan and Co-Founder of the Centre for Positive Organisations believes that there is a better and more effective way to facilitate task enabling so that leaders can be more effective. Her approach is built on the theory that “Effective task enabling between two people, or members of a team, builds higher-quality connections. Higher-quality connections foster greater trust, respect, improve coordination and collaboration, and enhance creativity, resilience, and engagement” (Dutton, 2003).
High-quality connections (HQC) are short term interactions in which both people experience: vitality; positive regard; and mutuality. Research show that HQCs are important because they help build strength and capacity for the individual, team and organisation while also increasing capacity to think and create, as well as, to adapt and be resilient.
The 5 steps to achieve effective task enabling:
Step 1: Reflect on how others task enable you.
Look at a recent or ongoing project and identify the leaders either peers or superiors who are involved in assigning tasks to you. Reflect on your experiences during that project as to how they go about effectively or ineffectively task enabling you. In other words, what works or doesn’t work for you and what can you extract from these reflections? Are there ‘AHA’ moments you can progress with?
Step 2: Assess your task enabling targets.
Identify the people you task enable within your team, department, etc. What are their relationship to you and are there others currently outside your sphere of influence that you would like to task enable?
Step 3: Analyse your current task enabling patterns?
Consider how you actually task enable individuals. What tactics do you employ and are they effective or less effective than you had previously thought? Can you identify a pattern that has developed with a specific individual that leads to a particular outcome? Are there cues that initial a specific action or habit when you task enable?
Step 4: Explore your potential for task enabling improvement and unlock untapped resources.
Now that you have a greater understanding of whom and how you task enable, where is there room for improvement and are there additional skills you need or capacities that remain, as of yet, untapped?
Step 5: Create an Action plan.
Informed with all this information and insights now set out an action plan on how you intend to turn your new approach into a habit. Without an action plan, and one which deals with the ‘today, tomorrow and the future’ these insights will be lost. You now have clarity as how you are currently task enabling, what cues and processes you use with specific individuals and an understanding of how you want to alter that approach for more effective task enabling.
Once you master this 5-step approach, task enabling has endless possibilities to help you and others improve and enhance your HQCs. Ultimately, it is an important and impactful skill set that helps you bring out the best in self and others.
We, at Serrano 99, as experienced leaders in our own right, understand the importance of providing clear direction to peers and subordinates and we believe in the power of effective task enabling. Reach out and let us help you build new skills that will enable you to: (1) build positivity; (2) foster employee development, growth and thriving at work; and (3) enhance performance, engagement and well-being at work.