Delegation For Paranormal Investigation Team Leadership
What is delegation? Delegation is the act of entrusting a task or responsibility to another person. This blog entry is geared towards anyone on a paranormal investigation team that has any level of authority and could be somewhat relevant to someone who leads a ghost hunting group.
As leaders why do we delegate? Primarily delegation serves two purposes. It is the epitome of time management skills and delegating helps develop your team members. We can not feasibly complete all tasks on our own. Delegating tasks to others increases productivity while affording the person that the task is delegated to an opportunity to gain experience in completion of a task which over time helps improve their efficiency and skill set pertaining to said task. This aides in the overall productivity of your paranormal investigation team.
Why do some people have difficulty delegating tasks to others? For some they fear creating an atmosphere where the team members believe that they are doing all of the work. For others they may have trouble trusting others to complete a task exactly how they wish for it to be completed. They may believe that they have to do it themselves so it is completed correctly the first time. Some believe that they can do it faster and more successfully and therefore won’t delegate it to someone else. Perhaps one may fear that someone else may make an error when completing the task. Someone may feel that they are dispensable and by training someone to meet or excel their own performance that it may affect their job security. Are you training your replacement? The answer may be yes or no depending on the situation. In some career fields the one sure way to not be able to advance is to not have someone ready to go to take your place when you advance in your career. In other situations you are trusted to develop someone so that they can take over your role at a different location.
Cross training is somewhat prevalent in various locations across the United States and the world when it comes to paranormal investigating. If you have a small team you may often work with other teams in different locations to help crossgrain. One team may be stronger in one science or procedure than another. You may often share talent by cross training in such a way.
If you have any trouble delegating any task I invite you to keep the following sentiment in mind. How did you learn how to do the task? Did someone teach you or did you teach yourself? Even if you taught yourself who gave you the opportunity for you to teach yourself? Delegating tasks gives someone else the opportunity that was once afforded to you which is an opportunity to learn and grow as a valuable team member. Someone else may not be as efficient or skilled as you are at completing the task, however as leaders one of our primary responsibilities is to develop members of our team. In most circumstances a task not being completed with 100% efficiency will not have detrimental consequences. Allow your team members the opportunity to learn and grow and for them to learn from their experience. There are certain circumstances where you can not delegate tasks such as situations where the task is specifically limited to be completed by you due to your level of responsibility. Except for those situations don’t hesitate to delegate. But at the same time don’t over delegate. You don’t want to give the impression that you aren’t doing anything yourself. Keep a level minded head and don’t let your ego get out of control which can easily happen in positions of authority.
Keep in mind however perception is reality and it is beneficial to remain cognizant of how your team perceives you as a leader. As senior team leaders we have an immense amount of tasks and responsibilities on our plate, however to keep up morale within your team I would recommend that you allot yourself some time to work along side your team for short periods as often as possible. A handful of years ago I was contacted by another paranormal investigation team leader who told me that he had an issue where a few team members were growing negative feelings towards being asked to handle evidence review as they had developed the perception that members of the leadership team weren’t pitching in to help with the not always so desired task. I asked the leader then why don’t they help with evidence review. The leader believed that as the leader it wasn’t their job to do such a task. I gave him a somewhat long spiel about how I felt that his view wasn’t correct, but to shrink it down to one sentence lets say that he was reminded not to delegate anything that he isn’t willing to do himself. Since that day he has taken on some of the evidence review and his team is no longer unhappy with him. That is just one example, however I strongly recommend that as often as possible you work along side your team members for a period of time while they complete any type of task in order to foster a greater positive atmosphere within the team.
Be mindful to not micromanage upon delegating a task. I am not saying don’t make the effort to properly develop your team members, however in many situations a task doesn’t have to be completed with a specific methodology. While certain tasks do have to fall within certain procedural parameters such as going over an equipment checklist before and after an investigation you can allow the team members to find a way to complete the task that works best for them. Situations that fall into this category may be historical research, conducting a DVP/EVP session, ensuring any related scientific possibility has been exhausted before possibly considering something paranormal, etc. Empower your team members to find their own way where it is applicable. This will give them a stronger sense of ownership and improve their engagement. Allow them to learn from wins & errors and to improve their skillset by doing so.
When delegating it is imperative that there is clarity in the communication of the direction given. While something may seem clear to a leader with years of experience it may not be as clear to a team member that doesn’t have your tenure and experience. Sometimes team members are embarrassed asking for clarification after they have already stated that they understand what is being asked of them. In a more complicated task situation don’t hesitate to ask the team member to reiterate the plan back to you. Embrace situations where team members ask for further clarification. Various people learn differently and some people may have to be shown how to complete a task multiple times before they feel confident in doing it themselves without supervision or followup. View the attempt to receive clarification as a positive thing versus saying to yourself that they should know how to do this by now.
It doesn’t hurt the team to have any type of procedure written down step by step in document form. That way you can train someone and you can give them a quick “how to” handout that way they can refer back to that while completing the task until they feel comfortable completing the task without assistance.
When delegating a task set expectations and do so in a way where it can be perceived by the team member that they are being asked to complete a task and not being told to complete a task. Use verbiage such as “May I ask you to” or “Could you please”. Avoid using verbiage such as “I need you to” or “I want you to” or directly telling someone to do something such as “Go break down the cameras.” Another phrase that is over used is “Can you do me a favor?” Overusing this takes away from its meaning and should be used very sparingly such as when calling someone to help out with an investigation last minute or when you desperately need someone to complete a task that is not normally within their scope of work. If you only use the term can you do me a favor when in situations where you really do need something very important, take care of the team member is more apt to recognize the severity of the situation and will be more willing to help out.
Part of delegating is training. The most simple and successful way to train someone is to use the following steps.
1) Watch me complete the task.
2) Help me complete the task.
3) Let’s complete the task together.
4) I will help you complete the task.
5) I will watch you complete the task.
While depending on the complexity of the task you may only use one or two or all five of the above steps it is important to afford your team member the opportunity to learn how to do the task to the point where they are confident in completing the task alone. This may take several tries. Encourage and motivate your team members versus correcting them. Use verbiage such as “May I show you how (enter task)” versus “You are doing it wrong” or “Thats not how you do it.”
In summary when delegating a task think about the critical components of the task where certain procedures have to be adhered to. Ensure your team members are confident to complete the task and coach where needed. Ensure that they know what the goal result is and then where applicable let them complete the task however they see fit. Don’t hesitate to commend them on their success.
“Surround yourself with the best people you can find, delegate authority, and don’t interfere as long as the policy you’ve decided upon is being carried out.” – Ronald Reagan