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Delegation can be a real struggle for people. It seems like it can take longer to explain something to someone than simply doing it yourself. Turning a task over to someone else that you have become successful at seems risky. If you’re responsible for the results, sharing part of the process is scary. If the consequences are high and others don’t have the same level of commitment than you, it seems unfair you should be punished for their lack of drive. 

The excuses for not delegating go on and one. Those excuses are going to keep you stressed by time and lacking in organizing time well.

Delegation is an opportunity for you to:

  1. Accomplish more towards your goal
  2. Develop your bench so in the future everything doesn’t fall on your shoulders
  3. Provide development in soft skill areas for those having a gap
  4. Teach, train, role model, coach, reinforce, and support the people around you in their advancement
  5. Focus on higher level tasks
  6. Expand your own skills sets

What often reinforces the excuses are:

  1. Delegating without really knowing what to delegate
  2. Delegating with poor instructions so they are unclear as to the task
  3. Delegating with all-or-nothing thinking; you can delegate pieces of a task to several people
  4. Delegating with unrealistic expectations of the outcome
  5. Delegating to the wrong person, whether for skill or desire, so they are set up for failure
  6. Delegating without permission to take full responsibility, have authority, or empowerment for the process (RAE)
  7. Delegating without benchmarks for Trust and Validation
  8. Delegating while taking all the credit

The results of delegating are the responsibility of the person doing the delegating, not the person executing the task! Read that again and let it sink in…that’s right, you might be the real issue.

But, once again, you’re in the right place to get this all worked out and become a delegating ninja Let’s go.

What to Delegate

After completing your Priority Matrix, list out each task from your Big Wins on the Delegation Planner. We start with the Big Wins because, well, they’re Big Wins and we want immediate results on reducing our stress.

Delegation Planner

Step 1: What to Delegate

Where most people get stuck with delegation is they really don’t even know what to delegate. Now that you have your tasks established as Urgent and Important and then Prioritized using the Priority Matrix, it should be much easier to assess. If not, consider starting with:

  1. Items that have been on your list the longest
  2. Menial tasks
  3. Tasks you hate to do
  4. Those causing you stress and frustration

Step 2: Clarify the Task

This step is where you take time to get very clear on exactly what task you are assigning. You want to make sure you answer the following questions:

  1. “Is this something only I can do?” If yes, don’t delegate. If no, press on.
  2. “What is the task?” This should be answered in such a way that if you walked up to a stranger on the street, they would understand exactly what you wanted. The task should also be broken down into small enough pieces that it could be completed within 1-2 steps. Anything longer than that and you might not have a task, you probably have a Major Project. 
  • Write your item in the Task sections.

Step 3: Assign All, Some, or None

Even though your Tasks are broken down into small steps, it still might be prudent to assign multiple people to one task, break a task up into parts and assign the parts to different people, or decide you will complete all of the Task yourself. You want to make sure you are deciding based on people’s quality of work, skill level, natural talents, impact of the Task, and risk of the Task.

  • Write specifically what you are delegating of the Task and mark A (All), S (Some), or N (None).

Step 4: Set Expectations

Think of expectations as a way of you communicating your desires about this task. It contains how you feel about the process and outcome. Here are some examples of expectations you may list:

  1. Be respectful of everyone’s contribution as they were selected for their gifts and talents.
  2. Ask for assistance when you get stuck, we don’t judge.
  3. We collaborate, not compete.
  4. Faster doesn’t get you a bonus, efficiency does.
  5. Provide a welcoming environment by smiling, waving, and connecting through chitchat.
  • List any Expectations outside of the norms or any you think need to be highlighted for a successful outcome.

Step 5: Select Your Person

Put thought into this and have a reason for your selection. Your reasons can be to:

  1. Develop them
  2. You trust them
  3. They have experience
  4. They are looking for new experiences
  5. It’s their turn
  • Write your person’s name in the section marked Person.

Step 6: Confirm Skill Level

Knowing the delegate’s skill levels with the Task behavior gives you insight as to how much guidance you will need to provide along the process. It also forces you to accept reality of timelines, quality of work, expected delays so that you can calibrate your stress threshold in preparation of their skill level.  

In addition, when delegating to people it’s easy to assume a person’s skill level by their age, length of position, rank, hierarchy in the organization, or diversity characteristics (gender, race, culture, where they live, etc.). Assumptions only increases our stress levels. It’s important to confirm a person’s skill level by looking for facts and evidence. Make sure you:

  1. Review their assessments
  2. Observe them completing the Tasks before
  3. Ask them to verbally give you their step-by-step process
  4. Have them draw out what they plan on doing
  5. Submit a draft or proposal
  6. Have them teach the Task to another 
  • In the space marked Skill Level, use the following scale to assess this person’s mastery:

1: Neophyte   2: Advanced Beginner     3: Skilled     4: Proficient     5. Master

Step 7: Confirm Interest Level

Once you identify the person/people you’ll be delegating to, make sure they have an interest in executing the Task. Ask the scaling question, “On a scale of 1-10, with 1 being ‘I’m going to drag my feet on this because I have no interest’ to a 10 of ‘OMG, thank you for delegating that to me!’ where are you on that scale?” If you don’t have many choices of people to select from and they don’t have an interest, you can always follow up with, “How can we make this Task something you see as a neutral or positive item in your day?” 

  • Mark their response in the section marked Interest Level.

Step 8: Outline Responsibility, Authority, and Empowerment

Set these boundaries at the onset of the Task:

  1. What decisions can they make about the process? 
  2. What can they change if they encounter barriers?
  3. How do you want to be updated?
  4. When do you want to be brought back into the Task?
  5. What final authority do they possess freely?
  • In the section marked RAE indicate their level of F (Full), P (Partial), or N (None).

Step 9: Establish Benchmarks

Delegating a Task and then leaving it to the end is a dangerous way of making sure things don’t get done the way you want. Make sure to establish benchmarks along with the task for you to trust people are doing their best and following along with expectations, while also Validating they are. You want to catch behaviors when they are small and inconsequential than have to rework a Task at the end. 

  • List out benchmark dates, what you want to be completed, and how you want follow-up done (email, meeting, phone call).

Step 10: Give Credit

The cliché, “Give credit where credit is due,” is exactly what needs to happen. By giving acknowledgment of work done you’re also building self-esteem, self-confidence, and closing the skills gap, all of which will aid you in the future. 

  • Write down how you will give credit: public meeting, family text, conference, newsletter, special dinner. 

When you have all of the Tasks delegated with clear outcomes and timelines, you can begin to schedule.

Key Takeaways

Delegation can be a real struggle for people. Delegating opens you up to so many opportunities you wouldn't normally have time for. In this lesson, we outline the delegation planner and the steps to filling it out.

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