Inspect What You Expect

The first thing you learn as a leader of an organization is that you can’t do everything yourself, so you have to delegate. A side benefit of delegating tasks to students is that it shows those students that you trust them to do important work. This has all kinds of benefits, from raising the self-confidence in those students, to raising morale generally throughout your organization.


But if you do delegation wrong, morale can take a disastrous nosedive. This is how I’ve seen it happen: A leader will delegate a task to a student and then never ever follow up. Obviously that task doesn’t get done. But that is really the least of your concerns. In addition to the task not getting done, a number of other side effects result.

First, everyone else learns that they don’t have to do their tasks either, because there are no consequences for not completing them.

Second, you are seen as an ineffective leader who does not know how to keep your students in line.

Third, resentment builds within your organization. For the students who are doing their work, because they have a strong work ethic and do not need to be closely supervised: those students are resentful of the other students who get away with doing nothing.

All of these things start out small and may not be a big deal at first. But over time, there is a snowball effect. Less and less gets done. Morale gets worse and worse. And resentment builds to a level where students aren’t having any fun and don’t even want to be in your organization anymore.

So how can you prevent all of these bad things? It’s very, very easy: Inspect what you expect.

If you give someone a task, it’s simply a matter of asking them, on the deadline you’ve set, whether or not it’s done. If the task isn’t done yet, ask why not, and provide help (either yourself or have another student help) until the task does get done. That’s really all it takes.

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