Delegate! – Part II

I imagine you’ve been waiting all week for “Delegate! Part II.” It’s hard to argue with the principle of delegation, but effectively practicing it is a bit of an art. We learn by doing it—even though getting started is sometimes difficult.

It takes longer at first.
You might feel out of control.
You might feel threatened by someone else’s good work.
They may not do it as well as you do in the beginning.
You might be seen by others as “not doing anything.”
You might need to let go of a task you enjoy.
People might view you as passing on jobs that you dislike.
Perhaps the task will not be completed and you feel (are) responsible.

Maybe, like me, you are apt to say, “I like things to be done my way, but by somebody else!” Well, unless you are assembling widgets by a standardized, detailed factory process, the person who does the task you delegate probably won’t do it exactly like you. But that’s really the beauty of working together as a project team or department. Everyone brings something to the table to drive the movement forward.

Even so, you are entrusting another person with a task for which you remain ultimately responsible. That might mean leaving what you do well (the task) and moving into the realm of managing other people. Now, some of the art of delegating means that you must ensure that the other person has sufficient autonomy to undertake the task in their own way, and yet be able to influence the person and the process.

Here is the process:

  • Decide which tasks should be delegated, and clearly define the deliverable, the deadlines and the process of working together.
  • Choose the best person for the task and make sure they understand the parameters. You can’t hold someone responsible for vague or undefined tasks.
  • Develop a process for monitoring or coaching the person to whom you have delegated.
  • Review the experience and decide what changes should be made, on both sides, next time around.

And finally, remember to recognize the effort that was put into a task, and reward it in an appropriate way.