“Here lies a man who knew how to enlist the service of better men than himself.” These words are reportedly emblazoned across the tombstone of Andrew Carnegie, the Scottish-American industrialist, steel magnate, and one-time richest man in the world. And what does this epitaph tell us about how Carnegie was able to achieve such success? He knew how to delegate.
Delegation is an essential leadership skill because it allows managers to focus on the tasks they’re uniquely positioned and/or required to perform, while empowering their employees to take on increased responsibility (and, crucially, building trust among their workforces). Plus, while many business leaders believe they can do anything, few of them can do everything. At least not all at once.
This leads us neatly to the topic of task-relevant maturity (TRM, for short), a concept that any effective delegator should surely understand. Balancing skill with will, TRM is a way for employers to delegate with confidence by ensuring they assign a task or project to the individual or team most uniquely qualified for it.
To understand how TRM can help leaders become better delegators, let’s delve a little deeper, exploring what task-relevant maturity really means, why it’s such an important framework for business leaders, and how to introduce TRM to your own organization.
What does task-relevant maturity mean?
Task-relevant maturity (TRM) is an important leadership framework that enables business leaders to effectively monitor actions, manage performance, and delegate responsibility to their employees. The TRM framework helps leaders to better understand, analyze, and utilize the capabilities of their team members to optimize performance and facilitate continual development.
The concept of task-relevant maturity was first introduced by Intel co-founder and CEO Andy Grove in his book High Output Management, where he also coined the term itself. Grove suggested that leaders should adopt a flexible approach to management and adapt their management styles based on the unique skills, capabilities, and experience levels of each individual employee.
It’s important for leaders to acknowledge and understand that employees have varying levels of competency, experience, and soft skills, meaning some are more suited to certain tasks and projects than others. When it comes to delegation, each task should be assigned on the basis of skill level, experience, and the readiness to take responsibility and deliver results. To effectively determine TRM before assigning a task, a manager might ask themself:
- Has the employee had the relevant training?
- Do they possess the requisite experience?
- Are they ready and willing to accept the task?
- Do they have capacity to achieve the desired outcome?
The manager can then determine the employee’s (or team’s) level of task-relevant maturity relative to the task in question, and assign the task to the most suitable individual or group of people based on how skilled, experienced, ready, and willing they are.
Why is task-relevant maturity important for businesses?
Task-relevant maturity is an eminently powerful framework for businesses that can enable them to optimize performance, enhance employee development, and make more informed and assured decisions. By understanding and leveraging the TRM of their team members, leaders can enhance engagement and productivity within their workforces.
The main benefits of introducing TRM to the workplace include:
- Effective delegation. Understanding the TRM of team members allows leaders to delegate tasks appropriately, ensuring that tasks are assigned to individuals with the right skill sets, experience, and knowledge. This leads to increased efficiency and productivity while minimizing the risk of mistakes or delays.
- More opportunities for employee development. TRM serves as a useful tool for identifying skill gaps and areas for improvement within a team. By recognizing the current TRM of each team member, leaders can develop targeted training and development programs to enhance their employees’ skills and prepare them for more challenging tasks in the future.
- Improved communication. When leaders understand the TRM of their team members, they can communicate expectations, goals, and feedback more effectively. By tailoring their communication style to match the maturity level of the individual, leaders can enhance team members’ understanding and engagement.
- Enhanced decision-making. TRM can inform leaders’ decision-making by providing insight into the capabilities and limitations of their team. With a clear understanding of their team’s TRM levels, leaders can make informed decisions about resource allocation, project timelines, and risk management.
- Increased motivation and engagement. By aligning tasks with the appropriate TRM of team members, leaders can help employees feel more motivated and engaged in their work. When employees are challenged at the right level and given opportunities to grow, they’re more likely to feel devoted to the cause and contribute to successful outcomes.
How can a business implement a task-relevant maturity framework?
Implementing a task-relevant maturity framework requires a methodical approach, ongoing assessment and analysis, and a firm commitment to employee development. It also requires senior managers to be flexible, highly adaptable, and to understand and accommodate the varying abilities and experience levels of their employees.
Here’s our 8-step guide to successfully implementing a TRM framework:
1. Assess and document existing skills
Start by conducting a thorough assessment of your team members’ current skills, experiences, and knowledge levels. Create a skills inventory or matrix (check out this guide to creating a skills matrix from Zavvy) that documents each individual’s TRM in relation to various tasks or roles within the organization. This documentation will serve as a foundation for the TRM framework.
2. Review ongoing and upcoming tasks
Assess and determine the types of tasks that your organization is most likely to need to perform (in addition to those tasks which are ongoing or already scheduled). This will enable you to allocate them to the appropriate individuals or teams when the time comes, and may even help you spot opportunities to streamline or automate certain tasks such as accepting recurring payments or scheduling social media posts.
3. Establish clear objectives and expectations
Clearly define the objectives and expectations for each role, task, or project within the organization. This should include performance metrics, timelines, and quality standards. Aligning objectives and expectations with the TRM framework will help ensure tasks are delegated appropriately and that team members understand what is expected of them.
4. Provide training and development opportunities
Identify skill gaps and areas for improvement within your team based on their current TRM. Develop targeted training programs, workshops, or coaching sessions to help employees improve their skills and advance their TRM. Encourage continuous learning and development to foster a growth mindset within the organization.
5. Implement a mentorship or coaching program
Pair employees with more experienced colleagues or mentors who can provide guidance, feedback, and support. This can help accelerate the development of employees with lower TRM while also fostering a culture of collaboration and knowledge sharing; check out Chronus’ guide to building a successful mentoring program.
6. Regularly review and adjust
Continuously monitor the progress and performance of your team members in relation to their TRM. Conduct regular performance reviews and provide constructive feedback to help employees understand their strengths, weaknesses, and areas for improvement. As individuals develop new skills and gain experience, update their TRM profiles accordingly and adjust task assignments as needed.
7. Foster a supportive culture
Encourage open communication and feedback within the organization. Create a safe environment where employees feel comfortable discussing their TRM, asking for support, or sharing their challenges. This can promote a culture of learning, collaboration, and continual professional and personal development.
8. Communicate the TRM framework
Ensure that all employees are aware of the TRM framework and understand its importance in achieving organizational goals. Clearly communicate how TRM will be used to guide task delegation, employee development, and performance evaluations. By involving everyone in the process, you can create a sense of ownership and buy-in among your team members.
To conclude, task-relevant maturity (TRM), while still a relatively underused concept, can be a game-changer for businesses and senior managers when it comes to effectively delegating responsibility, managing employee performance, and encouraging continuous development. Understanding TRM and its underlying concepts can be the difference between a good (or a bad) leader and a truly great one.