In The Trenches

Need some help delegating?

Published on July 14, 2014 Back to blog

Delegating is often one of the most difficult skills to learn. It definitely was for me. But, once I overcame my fears – and learned some skills to make it work – I’ve been able to get a lot more done in a lot less time.

Until you learn how to delegate work to other people, your productivity (and, likely, your compensation) will be limited. So, here are a few tips to help:

First, you need to overcome your fears:

Fear #1: He/she won’t do it as well as I would
That may be the case. Treat it as an opportunity to teach and help your delegate learn a new skill. Often, a fresh set of objective eyes provides a different perspective, helping to create a better product than you may have otherwise delivered on your own.

Fear #2: I don’t have the time to go over it with him/her
You may think that it will take you less time to just do it yourself. But every time you delegate to someone, the next time becomes that much easier (and faster). You need to start sometime. Why not now?

Fear #3: He/she doesn’t have the time to get it done
The reality is that you don’t have time to get it done either. And you may be reluctant to ask someone else, who is also very busy, to help. If someone doesn’t have the time to help, they will tell you. But, in most cases, people are willing to help one another. Just ask.

Once you overcome the fears, you need to be savvy about the act of delegation. Otherwise, it is a self-fulfilling prophecy and you will only reinforce your fears.

1. Recognize the skills of the delegate
You need to be honest with yourself about the capabilities of the delegate, and set your expectations accordingly. If you give an assignment to someone who is completely unfamiliar with the project/task, without any direction, you may not get the optimal result. In these cases, recognize that you will need to put in the training time and provide plenty of feedback – or find someone else more suited to the task. And, when appropriate, set up “check-in” times to make sure the work is heading in the right direction.

2. Set deadlines
Be clear about when your tasks are due, and make sure the delegate agrees to the timeline. Otherwise, you may end up with a less than optimal result and a client deadline staring you in the face.

3. Don’t wait to delegate
The longer you wait to delegate, the tighter the deadline for the deliverable. It will become more difficult to find someone to help you. Your work doesn’t go anywhere by sitting on your to do list.

Being a successful delegator will free up your time so that you can spend it on the things that you are bested suited to do. And, you will make your delegates happy as well—by empowering them with knowledge and responsibility for a task that they wouldn’t otherwise have had.

Happy delegating. And, have a great day!

Jeff Freedman
CEO/Managing Partner
Small Army | Finn Partners