Sep 112011
 
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tips for better delegation

5 Tips For More And Better Delegation

If you have ambitious goals, delegation will likely play a very important role in accomplishing them.  With just twenty-four hours in a day, if you’re trying to get a lot done, you simply cannot do it all yourself.  Here are five tips to help you delegate more and delegate more effectively.

Delegate More

Delegation Tip #1:  Don’t Think You Are The Only One Who Can Do It!

I’m going to have to confess on this one.  Until I was cured, and I haven’t been fully cured as yet, I often believed I was the only one who could do something.  Even when I believed someone else may be able to do something, I usually thought I could do it better myself.  This can kill your productivity.  Almost every achiever I know thinks this way and it can be a real barrier to accomplishing your goals.  The first step in delegating more and better is to let go of this notion.  Begin to trust that other people may be able to take some of your “to do” list items off your hands.  Start with the low-value-add tasks that frustrate you when you do them, because you know you’re wasting your time.  Then, build on it from there, as you gain more and more trust in the people to whom you are delegating.

Delegation Tip #2:  Don’t Be Afraid To Spend A Little Money

If you are in a corporate environment and already have one or several subordinates, there is no excuse for not delegating.  If you’re reluctant to delegate to people who work for you, then either you hired wrong or you’re too much of a “control freak,” or both.  However, if you’re a solo entrepreneur, or an entrepreneur with a partner or partners who you see as peers and typically wouldn’t delegate to, you may be thinking to yourself, “sure, delegation would be great, but I don’t have anyone to delegate to and I don’t have the budget to hire anyone”.  I have one word for you in that case:  outsource!  There are numerous freelancer services and sites online now, where you can hire people to do almost anything, usually at a very reasonable cost.  Check out guru.com, elance.com, fiverr.com, scriptlance.com, among hundreds of others.  You will need to be very selective and definitely employ some of the “delegate better” tips below, but I can tell you from experience that these services can work very well for a wide range of tasks, particularly if the tasks are not too complex.

Delegate Better

Delegation Tip #3:  Communicate Very Clearly To The “Delegatee”

It is very important, particularly at the beginning of a delegator/delegate relationship, that you communicate very clearly what your expectations are, in general and for each particular task.  You can do this in a variety of ways, but the easiest way is to set up a matrix of tasks that includes, at a minimum, the task description and the due date.  It is important that the persons to whom you are delegating understand very clearly what you would perceive to be success for a particular task.  If the project is complex, break it down into “bite-size chunks,” so that it is not overwhelming.  As the delegation relationship continues and you gain confidence in your “helpers,” you may not have to go into as many details in the matrix.  However, no matter how long the relationship has been in place, don’t have lack of clarity in your description of timing and outcome expectations be a potential excuse for poor performance.  If you are not clear regarding what you are expecting, you have no one to blame but yourself if the results are not what you desired.

Delegation Tip #4:  Set Up Regularly Scheduled Reviews Of Progress

It’s extremely important that you periodically review progress with your delegatees.  This is one of the most critical, yet most overlooked aspects of effective delegation.  Undoubtedly, if you are in a position where you are looking to delegate more of your tasks, you are a very busy person.  Likewise, if you’ve found someone to whom you think you can entrust your precious tasks, that person is likely to be very busy too.  Therein lies the recipe for potential disaster:  two smart, busy people who never have, or more accurately, never make, time to check in with one another regarding progress.  This is why it’s very important to designate a set time each week, or even each day or every couple of days to discuss progress and any questions your delegatee may have.  If you don’t do this, trust me, you’ll regret it and you’ll end up thinking that delegation “simply can’t work”.

Delegation Tip #5:  Reward Good Results

This is basic management 101, but it’s often overlooked in delegation scenarios.  You must reward the behavior that you’d like to see more of.  That reward can be monetary or it can simply be praise.  It should likely be a combination of the two.  When someone does excellent work for you on a project you’ve delegated to them, whether that person is an employee or an outside contractor, make sure you let them know you appreciate that they’ve gone “above and beyond”.  Notice that I’m not talking about rewarding them for simply doing what was expected, as if you do that, there will always be an expectation of additional reward.  I am talking about rewarding delegatees when they’ve gone out of their way to do an exceptional job on a project and/or get it done on a tight timeframe.  As I said, a lot of times, it’s more than sufficient to just say “thanks for your hard work; I appreciate it”.  In other cases, the effort may merit more than just an “attaboy”.  Whatever works for you and your team is what you should do, but the main point is not to forget to reward people for great work.  Such rewards and recognition are an important part of effective delegation.

So there you have five tips to help you delegate more and delegate more effectively.  I’m interested to hear your stories of how delegation has or hasn’t worked for you and any other tips that you may have uncovered in your experience.

I look forward to your thoughts and questions.  Please leave a comment (“response”) below or in the upper right corner of this post.

Paul Morin

paul@companyfounder.com

www.companyfounder.com

 

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  • Kate

    When my team pulls together and we are successful, I give them tangible rewards. Extra money or a trip is a great motivator and help smooth ruffled feathers after a pressure situation. 🙂

  • Agreed, Kate. It’s key to reward your team after they’ve excelled in a pressure situation! Thank for stopping by. Paul

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  • B Sexton

    Delegating has always been a tough one for me. That phase of trusting others to do tasks you put so much effort into is hard to get past. You are right. Getting over that and sharing the responsibilities can increase overall production and success.

  • Agreed. It is a very tough step to take, and it’s much tougher for some than others. That said though, if you can push yourself to delegate more, even if just incrementally, it really can do wonders for the pace of growth of your business. It’s almost like putting more than 24 hours into a day. Thanks for stopping by. Paul

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  • Hey Paul,

    I agree about the reward but I haven’t thought about not rewarding your employees of what is expected of them. I think I have to keep that in mind. It can sometimes be confusing. Thanks for the tip.

  • Thanks for stopping by and commenting, Sean. I don’t want to sound like an ogre regarding the point you highlighted. The idea there is just that if you give people extra rewards just for doing what they already agreed to do, then where’s the incentive to do more?

  • Darleana

    Paul, enjoyed this article. I received two interns yesterday. I have been letting go of things and simply guiding them. It feels good to allow someone to take ownership and responsibility.

  • Thanks for stopping by, Darleana. It certainly is good to have help, when you have so much to do! Effective delegation can really help to take quite a bit off your plate. I agree it does feel good to allow others to take ownership of tasks and projects and see the pride they feel when they accomplish them!

  • Emily Stoik

    Ooh this is good….delegating can be such a challenge especially when you are in the position of Leader–sometimes it’s so much easier to think, “If I want something done Right, I need to do it myself!” But that really isn’t true….and you can really only do things right if you DO delegate…then you can manage your time more efficiently etc, etc…awesome reminder!!

  • Absolutely, Emily! Delegation can be tricky. It’s key to make sure that your expectations are clear from the very beginning. Also, it’s key to have a great team to whom you can delegate. If not, you end up having to re-do a lot of the work and it turns out to be counterproductive. Thanks for stopping by! Paul

  • It´s always been hard to delegate for me. I suffer from the Wonderwoman syndrome! But it´s really great when you can find someone you trust and you can take a breather. = )

  • Hi María,

    Agreed — sometimes it’s tough to delegate! Superwoman (or Superman) Syndrome is very common! The key is to make your expectations very clear to your “delegatee(s)” and then give them progressively more responsibility. Once you do get to the point of fully trusting your team, you’re right, it’s great when you can continue to be productive and take a breather at the same time!

    Paul

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  • What a really good blog post!