Too often leaders remember to set a completion date for their direct reports when delegating a project, but often forget the other important time frames: total time dedicated and milestone dates.
By setting overall time commitments leaders provide a guideline for the depth of involvement. For example, "Jen, I need this report by Friday and expect it shouldn't take more than 2-3 hours to complete." For a longer, more elaborate project: "I would imagine this should take about 10 hours per week through completion; if you find it takes more than that, we should discuss."
Leaders should remember setting the next milestone with time and expectation gives the direct report some autonomy and should prevent leaders from running into their direct report’s office asking, "Are we done yet?" or "Let me see what you've got so far." For example, "Let's meet next Friday at 9:00 to discuss which vendors you are considering before we lay out our next milestone."
Leaders who empower their direct reports with clarity around time commitments and check-in dates to avoid ambiguity have better alignment of expectations and experience greater success.