Have you ever wanted to delegate a task but decided not to? I’ll bet one of the reasons is because you thought, “I can do it better than the person I would delegate.” You may be right but that is not the most important part of delegating. If you have children you know you can clean you child’s rooms better than he/she can but that won’t help them grow or learn to accept responsibility. Think about it. The time you spend cleaning their rooms could be spent on important high value activities, like reading to or playing a game with that same child.
One of my best friends travels extensively throughout the world giving presentations on how to improve people’s public speaking skills. In addition to his busy travel schedule he releases at least two or three new, high quality, CD or DVD series every year and several single CD items with incredible content. When I asked him how he does it his response didn’t surprise me. He said “I delegate anything that keeps me from my goal.” He could save money by filling his own product orders or making his own travel plans OR he can pay someone else to do it.
Four years ago when I met him, he was doing everything himself, from burning his own CDs to shrink wrapping the orders. He soon realized that in order to grow he would need to delegate. He now has one full-time and three part-time employees and also utilizes an order fulfillment company. This frees him up to create new content for his speeches, new products and, maybe most importantly, new business relationships. Since he started delegating his business has grown every year, even with the challenges in our economy.
Here are some thoughts on delegating:
1. Decide to delegate. What things can you delegate today? Start small if you need to. Do you open the mail, take calls from the wrong people, replace the toner in the copier, etc? STOP doing those tasks!
2. Wisely and carefully select the person to whom you will delegate the task. If you delegate an important task to a person who is incapable of performing adequately, you are setting that individual up for failure while inviting disappointment and frustration on your part. NOTE: The person does not have to be as good as you but he or she must be able to do the job adequately.
3. Describe the desired outcome thoroughly then clarify he or she understands by asking him or her to explain it back to you. For more detailed projects it is best to put it in writing. IMPORTANT: delegate the outcome not the process. Let the individual know what hasn’t worked or what pitfalls may be encountered but don’t dictate the process. Let each person decide how to do it. If it doesn’t work as well as it might have, it can be a beneficial learning experience. Or possibly you may find that this person is actually better at it than you are.
4. Ensure the resources, information and authority, to complete the task, are available. Set him or her up for success.
5. Set a clear deadline when the task should be completed and establish preset benchmarks. For a short term task it maybe that you want a daily progress report or when at the completion of a certain step. For a larger project you may ask for weekly updates.
6. Explain benefits of successful completion to the person both in terms of the organization and the individual. An example may be that by learning to do this it will increase his or her value to the team, learn skills required for a promotion or provide more job security.
Bottom line is that delegation frees you up to do higher leverage items and allows your people to grow and acquire new skills.
If it frees you up to be more productive or creative it will pay for itself many times over.
I suggest saying this every day. “I only do the things that only I can do.”