Delegating with PARATA


I was in a corporate training class this week and was asked to give my perspective on delegating. For a brief moment, I completely froze. I delegated on a regular basis but I hadn’t taken time to think about how I structured the delegation.

I ended up saying the following…

“I am new to my position and the previous supervisor used a more directive approach to managing the workforce. My approach is quite different and I like to offer leadership opportunities to anyone who is interested. I have been delegating project and process leadership roles and most are excited about the chance to lead.

However, I am quickly finding that their priority and time management skills need a little work. I don’t plan to pull back on delegating so I’m working with each person on what I believe to be their weak point. I am also taking a more systematic approach to the process.

I use the PARATA formula when delegating which stands for purpose, audience, responsibility, authority, timeline, and accountability.

P – The employee needs to know the purpose of the task, project, or process. Without it, they are simply following your orders which is different than delegating. Going the extra step to ensure they know the purpose means they can be more flexible when designing their execution plan.

A – They also need to know their audience. Who will use their product or service? Will it be entry-level accounting technician or a seasoned scientist? Knowing your audience helps to tailor the product or service to their specific needs.

R – You have to define their realm of responsibility. Are they responsible for the full project or only a small piece of the whole project? Their expectations shape their plan. Make sure they know what your expectations are.

A – Have you socialized the delegation with the appropriate people? If not, the rest of the team will not recognize the authority you have invested in this person. There are many awesome employees who have failed simply because the rest of the team didn’t defer to the project manager’s authority.

T – What is the timeline? When do you expect the project or task to be completed? Maybe you want an informal Plan of Actions and Milestones (PoAM) with predetermined decision points. Come to a mutual agreement on what is realistic while emphasizing stretch goals.

A – Have you explicitly talked about or documented personal and organizational repercussions for failing to meet the objective? Accountability can be a double-edged sword; it can help motivate people if used well but can create animosity and employee disengagement if it is non-existent or poorly delivered.

The process of delegating is different based on the size of the task. More complicated tasks benefit from an explicit delegation plan. You can skip many of these steps with less complicated tasks.

How do you delegate projects, processes, and tasks?

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