The Power Of: Delegation

22 07 2008

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This is the first of my ‘Power Of’ series of posts where I look at the power of certain skills used in work and personal life.

By Office Now on Flickr via Creative Commons

By Office Now on Flickr via Creative Commons

“When in doubt, mumble; when in trouble, delegate; when in charge, ponder.” James H. Boren

Utilising the abilities and time of other people effectively is a great lifestyle skill. If you are able to effectively delegate and trust the quality of work, having people work for you can free up your own time greatly for tasks that are a better use of your time, you are more interested in or actually have the skills to do. People often have hurdles to overcome before they are willing to delegate. Common ‘arguments’ for not delegating:

– I can do it quicker/cheaper/faster/better myself

Ask yourself what your time is worth? Do you have the skills to do the task

– It’ll cost more

Again, what is your time worth really?

– It won’t be done correctly

Maybe you aren’t delegating correctly? Sometimes ‘just good enough’ really is fine, or even better than it needs to be.

Tips for delegation:

1. Set clear objectives for the task you are delegating. Begin with the end in mind. If you are unclear about what the required results are, how can you expect the person you are delegating the work to understand? (this is why Wembley Stadium took so long to complete).

2. Seek confirmation of their understanding. (Get the delegated person to explain the task back to you). You could give them instructions verbally and ask them to email you instructions/objectives back for approval.

3. Be clear, concise and consistent with your instructions. Seek not to confuse. If you are not clear they will not understand. If you are not consistent there is room for misunderstanding, doubt and inconsistency.

4. Provide a Timescale. People working for you will expand to fill the time available. Give clear deadlines (even false deadlines) as required otherwise it is easy to creep into overtime and budget problems. Deadlines generate the by-product of making your delegated resource eliminate the unnecessary.

5. Set a Priority. This is useful if you have allocated more than one task to a person, but also if they have to balance several clients with requirements on their time. This is linked to setting a timescale (both elapsed and real time) but gives people a level of focus. Beware of ‘crying wolf’ on priorities; if you use a resource over and over, you need to gain their trust.

6. Reward. This can take many forms. For example, you may in work situations you will have no influence over pay and benefits, however you are still able to provide positive feedback to a superior.

7. Reporting Requirements and Communication Channels. I think that being a good communicator is the single, most important skill that anyone can possess. When delegating, it is important to define reporting requirements (i.e. when and how you want to receive these along with the communication channels (methods)). If the communication flows correctly, there is less room for error.

8. Trust. It is important to trust the person you delegate to. This is a two way process. For them to trust you, you need to behave how you would expect the person working for you to behave. Do what you say you will, be open and honest. For you to trust them this is a mindset you need to get into. To improve trust there are some tools you can use, set guidelines, empower decision making (set fair boundaries).

9. Measuring Results. If you’ve set out your requirements, as stated in the points above, and found the right person for the job, and have open and honest communication you should set out the results your require. Remember when delegating to understand what quality standards you should expect (remember when good enough is good enough). Provide feedback that is honest (this gains respect) and constructive. Also update your own FAQ, quality standards etc. as required. Remember every thing is a constant learning and reviewing process.

Follow the guidelines to utilise the power of delegating to free up your own time and get achieve more. In order to achieve the work:life balance you require, or at least tip the scales in your favour, you want to delegate as much as possible.

“Surround yourself with the best people you can find, delegate authority, and don’t interfere.” Ronald Regan

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Thanks for reading.

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4 responses

27 07 2008
Mini Mohan

These tips for delegation are really helpful. Utilising the power of delegation and we can more effectively manage Personal Outsourcing.

15 08 2008
Tools for Productivity « Lifestyle Project

[…] Outsourcing / Delegation These are great tools for getting stuff done but do require time and patience and learning for using as an effective tool. You should think of delegation at work (and personal outsourcing as appropriate) as you first option for every task. This way you can eliminate as much as you can. “Can’t someone else do it?” – make this your Mantra. See my other post on delegation. […]

15 08 2008
18 08 2008

Your blog is interesting!

Keep up the good work!

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