Passing to People – Delegation

If delegation is not working for you, you aren’t doing it well.

We are always delegating. We don’t deliver our mail; we expect the internet or a postal service to do this for us. Few of us milk our own cows, we expect dairy farmers to get our morning “moo-juices” flowing. Even fewer of us build our own cars. We prefer to pick from designs already manufactured and ready to roll. We are always using some elements of delegation in our survival system. We are fairly skilled at delegating within a collective.

Most of us are not so good at delegating on the smaller economy of scale – within our own business. There are a multitude of reasons why we don’t. We might avoid passing jobs on for reasons that include:

  • Not knowing what we can or should give away;
  • Not having enough support or knowing who to delegate to;
  • Not having enough faith in delegation to trust that things will be done to specifications;
  • Not wanting to give up the experience or the credit for the work when it is completed;
  • Fearing that unless you do it all, it will fail.
  • Not including the people we delegate to in the planning of the work projects the will be asked to do.

Rest assured that when it comes to delegation, if you do it right, you still have more control than you’d think. Delegation is a means to growth, improved effectiveness, increased efficiency and a host of other virtues. Nevertheless, you always have the ultimate control and responsibility. If delegation is not working for you, you aren’t doing it well.

We generally start to think about delegation, which is a two-way interaction, when we are knee deep in planning, which for the entrepreneur is often a one person activity. When the people we delegate to are not part of the planning they miss about 75% of the picture they’ll need to deliver on our expectations.

Here’s the best recipe we could find in outlining how expert delegation can occur.

First, use these three questions to guide your delegation actions. If the activity is a NO for all three questions, you can delegate it. We’ve adapted them from John Maxwell’s book, developing the Leader Within:

  1. What is required of me? In other words, ask yourself if this particular piece of work requires your personality, skills, talents, and involvement.
  2. What gives me the greatest return? You are here to make a difference and to make money. Spend time on activities that affect your profit margin with high returns.
  3. What is most rewarding? Sometimes we need to do things because we need a boost; we need to feel like we could raise our arm in the air and scream, “Yes!” All everyone to get a taste of this type of energy from the work they are doing.

Second, cement in your mind that delegation is a two-way conversation. It involves strong communication skills and regard for the people we pass to. Borrowing from the book To Do, Doing, Done by G. Lynne Snead and Joyce Wycoff, here are important criteria to effectively hand off work:

  • Make sure the person you give the task to has both the authority and the materials and skills to complete the job. If they need to make purchases, be sure they can do so. If they need a specialized piece of information or knowledge, make sure they are capable.
  • Include these people in the planning stages of the work that will be passed to them. When we help plan out what will be done, we have greater clarity on the expectations and desired outcomes of the work we’ll be doing.
  • Share the responsibility of the final results with the person you are delegating to. Allow the person to see up front how they will be given praise or be recognized for the final result. Allow them to see how the benefits of the completed work fit into your overall goal.
  • Make agreements with the delegated party. Agree to support them as needed. Ask them to agree upon regular status checkups and to agree together on due dates.

Third, follow the process through. Follow-up often with those you delegate to. Allow respect to guide your check ins. Follow-up according to an agreed upon check-in schedule. AVOID what has been called the “dump and run” version of delegation. Without doing the actual work, do everything in your power to support the people you delegate to. Praise them for work accomplished on time and according to specifications. Clarify and explore the “how come” when things don’t work out and co-create solutions with those you wisely pick to hand off to.

Even when a task has been handed off, you still share responsibility for the work meeting expectations.


Using the Power of Focus for Weekly Planning

The practice of doing weekly and daily planning are imperative when we want to improve our power of focus – getting the most important things accomplished. The four-step process we advocate when using our iPhone app Today and Not Today can be applied to weekly planning.

Here’s a quick tutorial on how to use the same four-step strategy when planning out your week.


Time is Part of Life

I have come to understand as you may have as well that there is never enough time to do everything. However, there always seems to be enough time to focus on the most critical things. This is one of the reasons I have created the Today and Not Today i-phone app. It is the reason that we created this animation about using a planner. This concept is the reason that no matter who I coach and why they come to me for coaching, we usually end up working on some element of time management.

Time is part of life. Managing it well usually equates to success. So this month I’m going to share the concepts I apply to stay on top of all the stuff I have to do. I hope this handful of items helps you as well:

1)     Learn what “enough” means to you. Just as I mentioned above, we don’t have time for everything yet we generally have time for the critical few things that need to be done each day or each week. Focus on those things first and foremost.

2)     Plan. I usually take five to ten minutes each morning to plan out the strategy for my day. I don’t use elaborate plans. I simply determine what has to be completed today or else. I prioritize these few items and make time in my schedule to get them completed.

3)     Know the difference between planning and scheduling. You’ll need both. Planning means you outline what needs to be done. Scheduling means you know when things are to happen and when tasks are going to get done.

4)     Stick with your plan. I admit that I only plan well about four of five days out of each week and I only plan well about 40 of 52 weeks a year. However, I get the most important things done each year because I have enough discipline to stick to my plans about 80% of the time.

There you have it. I’d love to learn what your best time management practices are. Please feel free to post your thoughts here.