the Power of Other People's Help
Even "Super-You" needs
help and support. There is no shame in asking for assistance.
Push aside the pride and show respect for the talent others can bring to the
And, remember that there is no such thing as a single-handed success:
When you include and acknowledge all those in your corner, you propel
your teammates and your supporters to greater heights.
- Author Unknown.
feel stressed and overloaded? Or that your career seems stalled? If so, then
you may need to brush up your delegation skills!
If you work on your own, thereís only a limited amount that you can do,
however hard you work. You can only work so many hours in a day. There are
only so many tasks you can complete in these hours. There are only so many
people you can help by doing these tasks. And, because the number of people
you can help is limited, your success is limited.
However, if youíre good at your job, people will want much more than this
This can lead to a real sense of pressure and work overload: You canít do
everything that everyone wants, and this can leave you stressed, unhappy, and
feeling that youíre letting people down.
On the positive side, however, youíre being given a tremendous opportunity if
you can find a way around this limitation. If you can realize this
opportunity, you can be genuinely successful!
One of the most common ways of overcoming this limitation is to learn how to
delegate your work to other people. If you do this well, you can quickly
build a strong and successful team of people, well able to meet the demands
that others place.
This is why delegation is such an important skill, and is one that you
absolutely have to learn!
Why People Donít Delegate:
To figure out how to delegate properly, itís important to understand why
people avoid it. Quite simply, people donít delegate because it takes a lot
of up-front effort.
After all, which is easier: designing and writing content for a brochure that
promotes a new service you helped spearhead, or having other members of your
team do it?
You know the content inside and out. You can spew benefit statements in your
sleep. It would be relatively straightforward for you to sit down and write
it. It would even be fun! The question is, "Would it be a good use of
While on the surface itís easier to do it yourself than explain the strategy
behind the brochure to someone else, there are two key reasons that mean that
itís probably better to delegate the task to someone else:
- First, if you have the ability to spearhead
a new campaign, the chances are that your skills are better used further
developing the strategy, and perhaps coming up with other new ideas. By
doing the work yourself, youíre failing to make best use of your time.
- Second, by meaningfully
involving other people in the project, you develop those peopleís skills
and abilities. This means that next time a similar project comes along,
you can delegate the task with a high degree of confidence that it will
be done well, with much less involvement from you.
allows you to make the best use of your time and skills, and it helps other
people in the team grow and develop, so that they can reach their full
potential in the organization.
When to Delegate:
Delegation is a win-win when done appropriately, however that does not mean
that you can delegate just anything. To determine when delegation is most
appropriate there are five key questions you need to ask yourself:
- Is there someone else who has (or can be
given) the necessary information or expertise to complete the task?
Essentially is this a task that someone else can do, or is it critical
that you do it yourself?
- Does the task provide an opportunity to grow
and develop another personís skills?
- Is this a task that will recur, in a similar
form, in the future?
- Do you have enough time to delegate the job
effectively? Time must be available for adequate training, for questions
and answers, for opportunities to check progress, and for rework if that
- Is this a task that I
should delegate? Tasks critical for long-term success (for example,
recruiting the right people for your team) genuinely do need your
can answer "yes" to at least some of the above questions, then it
could well be worth delegating this job.
factors that contribute to the delegability of a task include:
- The projectís
Your expectations or
goals for the project or task(s), including:
- How much time is there
available to do the job?
- Is there time to redo
the job if itís not done properly the first time?
- What are the consequences of not
completing the job on time?
- How important is it that
the results are of the highest possible quality?
- Is an
"adequate" result good enough?
- Would a failure be
much would failure impact other things?
being said, having all these conditions present is no guarantee that the
delegated task will be completed successfully either. You also need to
consider to whom you will delegate the task and how you will do it.
The Who and How of Delegating:
Having decided to delegate a task there are some other factors to consider as
well. As you think these through, you can use our free Delegation Worksheet
to keep record of the tasks you choose to delegate and who you want to
delegate them to.
To Whom Should You Delegate?
The factors to consider here include:
- The experience, knowledge
and skills of the individual as they apply to the delegated task.
- What knowledge, skills and
attitude does the person already have?
- Do you have time and
resources to provide any training needed?
- The individual's preferred
- How independent is the
- What does he or she want
from his or her job?
- What are his or her
long-term goals and interest, and how do these align with the work
- The current workload of
- Does the person have time
to take on more work?
- Will you delegating this
task require reshuffling of other responsibilities and workloads?
When you first start to delegate to someone,
you may notice that he or she takes longer than you do to complete tasks.
This is because you are an expert in the field and the person you have
delegated to is still learning. Be patient: if you have chosen the right
person to delegate to, and you are delegating correctly, you will find that
he or she quickly becomes competent and reliable.
Should You Delegate?
Use the following principles to delegate successfully:
- Clearly articulate the desired outcome.
Begin with the end in mind and specify the desired results.
- Clearly identify
constraints and boundaries. Where are the lines of authority,
responsibility and accountability? Should the person:
- Wait to be told what to
- Ask what to do?
- Recommend what should be
done, and then act?
- Act, and then report
- Initiate action, and then
- Where possible, include people in the
delegation process. Empower them to decide what tasks are to be
delegated to them and when.
- Match the amount of responsibility with the
amount of authority. Understand that you can delegate some
responsibility, however you can't delegate away ultimate accountability.
The buck stops with you!
- Delegate to the lowest possible
organizational level. The people who are closest to the work are best
suited for the task, because they have the most intimate knowledge of
the detail of everyday work. This also increases workplace efficiency,
and helps to develop people.
- Provide adequate support, and be available
to answer questions. Ensure the project's success through ongoing
communication and monitoring as well as provision of resources and
- Focus on results. Concern yourself with what
is accomplished, rather than detailing how the work should be done: Your
way is not necessarily the only or even the best way! Allow the person
to control his or her own methods and processes. This facilitates
success and trust.
- Avoid "upward delegation". If
there is a problem, don't allow the person to shift responsibility for
the task back to you: ask for recommended solutions; and don't simply
provide an answer.
- Build motivation and commitment. Discuss how
success will impact financial rewards, future opportunities, informal
recognition, and other desirable consequences. Provide recognition where
- Establish and maintain
- Discuss timelines and
- Agree on a schedule of
checkpoints at which you'll review project progress.
- Make adjustments as
- Take time to review all
thoroughly considering these key points prior to and during the delegation
process you will find that you delegate more successfully.
Once you have worked through the above steps, make sure you brief your team
member appropriately. Take time to explain why they were chosen for the job,
what's expected from them during the project, the goals you have for the
project, all timelines and deadlines and the resources on which they can
draw. And agree a schedule for checking-in with progress updates.
Lastly, make sure that the team member knows that you want to know if any
problems occur, and that you are available for any questions or guidance
needed as the work progresses.
We all know that as managers, we shouldn't micro-manage. However, this
doesn't mean we must abdicate control altogether: In delegating effectively,
we have to find the sometimes-difficult balance between giving enough space
for people to use their abilities to best effect, while still monitoring and
supporting closely enough to ensure that the job is done correctly and
The Importance of Full Acceptance
When delegated work is delivered back to you, set aside enough time to review
it thoroughly. If possible, only accept good quality, fully-complete work. If
you accept work you are not satisfied with, your team member does not learn
to do the job properly.
than this, you accept a whole new load of work that you will probably need to
complete yourself. Not only does this overload you, it means that you don't
have the time to do your own job properly.
course, when good work is returned to you, make sure to both recognize and
reward the effort. As a leader, you should get in the practice of
complimenting members of your team every time you are impressed by what they
have done. This effort on your part will go a long way toward building team
member's self-confidence and efficiency, both of which will be improved on
the next delegated task; hence, you both win.
At first sight, delegation can feel like more hassle than it's worth, however
by delegating effectively, you can hugely expand the amount of work that you
When you arrange the workload so that you are working on the tasks that have
the highest priority for you, and other people are working on meaningful and
challenging assignments, you have a recipe for success.
To delegate effectively, choose the right tasks to delegate, identify the
right people to delegate to, and delegate in the right way. There's a lot to
this, but you'll achieve so much more once you're delegating