I have, in my team, someone who is very reactive-- someone who can't do anything on his own, someone who needs explicit instruction in carrying out a task. In the parlance of Steven Covey, the way I manage him is by gofer delegation.
Recently I tried to change this, I tried to move into "delegation by stewardship". I gave him an important mission to do: namely asking him to jumpstart an online marketing campaign.
In the true spirit of delegation by stewardship, I told him the following:
- the desired results of this particular mission. At the end of the day, we wanted to see whether online marketing is viable for us or not, and he had to provide us with a cost and benefit analysis of a successful marketing campaign. In other words, he was to research on the viability of online marketing.
- Guidelines. As we are also very new in online marketing, so we also didn't know what are the constraints/ parameters that he would be working on. We did tell him what were the possible failures-- Facebook advertising would never worked (This is just an example so you facebook fanatics, please don't get too upset with me! I don't mean facebook advertising is not good for online marketing)
- Resources. He does not have any prior experience/ training in online marketing campaign.But we promised him that we would support all his resource requests, we could provide him with training, technical helps and all that, as long as he asked.
- Accountability. We did a brief meeting on the updates of his progress every week.
- Consequences. We told him that he can be our online marketing head if he did this well.
However, weeks went by, and he was not making any progress. Initially he just reported on the conference he attended. For example, he attended a Google Adwords conference and he reported back what he heard and the notes he took down. And when we asked him what did he plan to do with the information at hand, he just blanked. I was so upset to see him stunned, so as a means to conclude the meeting, I asked him to do more study. I know, I wasn't suppose to tell him how to do his job, but he really seemed clueless what to do next, and ending a meeting without action items just didn't sound right at all.
The same scenario played out a few times, each time at the end of the meeting, we would ask him whether what he did so far contributed to the end results, in other words, was he getting closer to the true picture of the cost of doing an online marketing campaign? Each time he would be stunned, not sure what to reply, and the room fall into a deafening, uncomfortable silence. At the end I would have to suggest what he should do next, based on my rudimentary reading of online marketing information.
This was just one example of how he worked, there were other tasks which I assigned to him, which he couldn't execute without me telling him the exact steps. I grew very tired of micro-managing him.
Now what should I do? Should I just conclude that he "can never make it"? I truly want to see him succeeds, but as much as I tried, there was no way I can get him to be responsible for any piece of work he did in a meaningful way.
How to do stewardship delegation management on someone who is so reactive?