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 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 reworking?

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 their best capabilities
  • Engage their hearts and minds in producing work
  • Identify shifts in thinking and behaviour that the context presents to you and 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 when delegating are:
  • They see delegation as a skill rather than the development of a relationship with a staff member.
  • They are weak in making their expectations clear or baulk saying “What I want is…” in a way that is inviting, not demanding.
  • They 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.

These 9 keys will help you clarify your expectations in your commissioning conversations and will save you countless hours of frustration and rework.

1.  What is the purpose and context of the paper? Use your insights, knowledge and expertise here.  
 
2.  “The outcome being sought is…” State what the overall end goal is.
 
3. Who is the commissioner or recipient?
 
4. What is “big” for the recipient?
  • What are their values?
  • What are their drivers?
  • How familiar are they with this area or topic. On a scale of 1 to 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, and helpful, with implications for each scenario and option. Cite your fact sources. Use this style guide for grammar and layout. Expect several iterations within your time frame.

6. Key areas to cover: List your key points using bullets to make them easy to read and review.

7. Who to involve: List out who you want on the project both internal and external.
Internal:
External:

8. Proposed Length. State the proposed length clearly.
 
9. Timing
  • Verbal check in on your story line
  • 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 for 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 the 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 and in a way that they can end up “owning” the idea.

What might you do to ensure your team produces credible, inspiring and compelling papers to progress the goals of your organisation?

other resources to consider:

Diana Jones ©