The Field of Freedom

Would you like to delegate work to someone without feeling the need to step in and do the job yourself?

Would you like people to use their initiative without the fear that they might go too far?

Whether you are talking to employees, subcontractors, associates or trades people, they all need clear information but also the opportunity to use their initiative and their creativity.

Imagine a game in which it was ok for the head coach to run onto the pitch and kick the ball whenever he was unhappy with the way the player was kicking it. Sounds ridiculous? Why then, is it acceptable for a manager to take a job back from a member of his work team and do it himself because he is unhappy with the way the team member is doing it? Who is at fault, the team member or the team manager?

The white lines that define the field of play in a game of football, rugby or basketball keep the coach off the pitch during the game. If we are to motivate and enable people we need to give them the space in which to play their own game but we need to keep that game within clear boundaries. We need to delegate responsibility in a way that gives them the greatest scope for development and satisfaction and gives us, the managers, the confidence to let them get on with it – we need to give them a Field of Freedom.

* * *The Field of Freedom from TW Associates

“If we are to motivate and enable people we need to give them the space in which to play their own game but we need to keep that game within clear boundaries.”

* * *

The head coach of the football team would never put a someone into the game if he didn’t believe the player could play and managers should never delegate to anyone who is not ready to be delegated to i.e. they have reached the level of both competence and confidence needed for them to take on the job.

So, assuming you have someone who is ready to take on a piece of work or an area of responsibility, there are a number of specific things they need to know if they are to a) deliver the result you seek and b) get the most from it themselves. They need to know:

  1. The GOAL or objective you are trying to achieve – expressed as an outcome not an activity
  2. The RESOURCES they have at their disposal – e.g. time, information, money etc.
  3. The CONTRAINTS they have to work within – e.g. deadlines, budget, legal limits etc.
  4. The SUPPORT they can call on if they need it – e.g. review meetings, information etc.

When the manager and the team member discuss these four items and agree what they each need, it creates a clear ‘field of play’ within which the team member can use his initiative and his creativity to produce the result both parties have agreed upon. The team member is motivated because he knows WHAT he needs to deliver but HOW to deliver it is entirely up to him and his creativity – as long as he stays within the boundaries of the Goal, the Resources, the Constraints and Support.