Commissioning work for compelling results

How often are you asked to do something and then your manager either significantly reworks it, or asks you to?
How often as a leader are you presented with work you have commissioned which doesn’t hit the mark and has to be reworked?
How often do you or your team work after hours to finalise urgent papers?
How much time is wasted with this rework?  
These concerns are familiar to some of my clients. They know delegating and commissioning work is not a one-way process. They know delegating and commissioning does not mean giving someone a job to do. I work with clients to ensure delegation and commissioning work is a two-way process which helps leaders
  • develop their staff
  • use your and their best capabilities
  • engage hearts and minds in producing work
  • identify shifts in thinking and behaviour that the context presents you/your organisation.
Commissioning work is an art form, and similar to delegating, one of the basic skills for managers and leaders. What causes these difficulties? SSC’s 2016 Leadership Insights Survey revealed that 40% of leaders needed to learn to delegate effectively.  
Three mistakes leaders make are that they:
  • see delegation as a skill rather than the quality of development relationship with a staff member
  • are weak in making their expectations clear, or baulk at saying ‘What I want is….” in a way that is inviting, not demanding
  •  treat commissioning as a one-off event rather than a series of commissioning  conversations over time as contexts shift and more influences come to light.
NINE keys to commissioning work
  These 9 keys to clarify your expectations in your commissioning conversation will save you countless hours of frustration and rework. 
1.  Purpose/context of the paper? use your insights, knowledge and expertise here.  
 
2.  The Outcome being sought is….. 
 
3. Who is the commissioner/recipient?
 
4. What is ‘big’ for the recipient?
  • What are their values?
  • What are their drivers?
  • How familiar are they with this area/topic/ 1-10
                  (1 – new to the area, 10 – in-depth knowledge and experience.)
  • What are they concerned about?
5. Guidelines: Let your paper be informative, illuminating, helpful, with implications for each scenario/option. Cite your fact sources. Use the style guide for grammar, and layout.  Expect several iterations within our time frame.
6. Key areas to cover
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  
 
7. Who to involve:
Internal:
External:
 
8. Proposed Length:
 
9. Timing
  • Verbal check in on your storyline
  • Early Draft to DCE/GM by:
  • Final Draft to DCE/GM by:
  • Signed out:
Some commissioning is urgent and on-the-fly for Ministers, CE’s or other senior leaders.

Here, a ten minute conversation is not unusual. Decide what brings the best result? At least an hour is relevant clarifying the purpose and outcome of any paper. Context and timing is crucial along with an expectation of ongoing iterations. These investments dramatically reduce rework.   
 
Compelling influencers  
It is not enough to ‘be right.’ What makes people listen and take note?    How do leaders ensure work done is well received?  Discussions with colleagues suggest that three things matter:
Credibility:  Technical accuracy establishes why people listen and take note
Compelling:  Advice needs to be convincing in making its case, grounded in reality, and with responses to negative implications built in
Customer awareness :  The work has to be crafted in a way that engages the audience, in a way that they can end up ‘owning’ the idea.
What might you do to to ensure your team produces credible, inspiring and compelling papers to progress the goals of your organisation?
Other resources: DMPC’s paper on Commissioning Conversations is here   

The  Start Right Commissioning Prompts is here

Diana Jones © October 2018