We’ve seen that saying no and negotiating should be your first two lines of defense. But what if the job HAS to be done?
Your next option is to say yes to it and then give it to someone else. Delegation can apply to all areas of life, not just at work. If you have nobody working for you, it is still possible to delegate.
Delegation at Work
If you are a manager of people, then delegation is your number-one most important skill. And it’s not easy. You’ll have to overcome your various fears of the other person not doing it as well as you, the other person doing it better than you, the amount of time it takes to explain it the first time around, the belief that your people are already too busy, and even the fear of delegating yourself out of a job! These fears are all false, of course, and all good managers are good delegators—you just have to learn how to do it.
Just think: If you have ten people working for you, and you give each person two hours of your work to do each week (don’t worry, they can fit it in!), then you are saving 20 hours a week. That’s 20 weeks a year you have gained! Just think how much you could get done with an extra 20 weeks!
But most of us are not managers of other people, so is delegation still an option? Yes! You can sometimes get colleagues, suppliers, or even customers or bosses to do things for you. Remember, every little helps, the time all adds up.
Delegation at Home
It might be possible to delegate things to your family: Persuading your teenage son to clean the car once a week might save you an hour a week, and that’s your week per year saved.
Paying people to do things is the other way you can delegate. I recently decided to pay a man to cut my hedge once every few months. It costs me a bit, but it saves me a whole day of my life each time, and I think a day of my life is worth a bit of cash!
General Delegation Rules
Whether it’s at home or at work, there are a few things to consider.
With the 80% rule, if the person you want to delegate to can do it at least 80% as well as you, give that task to them. That last 20% is mostly in your mind: “They won’t do it the way I would do it.” And if a small amount of the gap is genuine—your teenage son won’t clean your car quite as brilliantly as you would have—then does it matter? Will anyone else even notice? And how can this other person reach 100% unless you give them a chance to learn it? If you wait for them to be 100% before you delegate, then you’ll wait forever.
And there’s almost no risk because you can monitor their progress and check that they are doing it right (but try to resist interfering) or you can check the finished job before it gets sent to the customer (but try to resist being critical or unduly picky). You’ll probably be amazed at how well they do it. And if you’re thinking that someone who works for you is too busy (they’ll always look busy when the boss is around!), then again, just try it. I bet they’ll find a way to do it.
You should always remember that anything routine is a waste of you! Delegate the routine work whenever possible. Even if you have to train someone up, it’s worth the short-term effort.
What’s also important is to think of it as being good for them. Remember that as well as saving you time, delegating is a development opportunity for the other person. They get a challenge, the thrill of achievement, and the pleasure of learning, and you get a better person in terms of both skill and motivation.
Onward and upward—I’ll see you tomorrow for option four of five!
Homework: Make a list of things you could and should delegate. What would your team like you to delegate? What could be done by someone else (e.g. service provider)? What is a waste of you?
Share with friends