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05 May

Delegate more (and enable yourself to focus on your chore)

Datum: 2010-05-05 10:50

For most peo­ple there are times when we dur­ing a longer stretch of time have had a heav­ier work­load than we are com­fort­able with. 

If you are the man­ag­er or leader of a com­pa­ny, an orga­ni­za­tion or some kind of group, it might be that you don’t have the time to per­form all the tasks which are depen­dent upon you in par­tic­u­lar to per­form them (you hav­ing the posi­tion that you do).

If you have cowork­ers, it’s nat­ur­al to think I need to del­e­gate more”. But, at least speak­ing for myself, it’s not always easy to see how to make that happen.

Get your­self an overview

A first step might be get­ting a grip on what you are actu­al­ly doing, that is to say, what your dif­fer­ent tasks are and what they con­sist of. When we are in the midst of things, it’s easy not to see the for­est for all the trees, or rather, we can’t dis­tin­guish one tree from anoth­er since they all appear to be one, big green agglom­er­a­tion – a forest.

So, dur­ing the course of a few days, write down all the tasks you per­form on a sheet of paper which you keep with you at all time or in a doc­u­ment on your com­put­er. Don’t make it so detailed that it becomes a bur­den, but be con­tent with just writ­ing for exam­ple Con­ver­sa­tion with X regard­ing…”, Wrote a doc­u­ment on…” and so on. 

If you are in the habit of keep­ing your to-do-tasks in one des­ig­nat­ed place and described in such detail that each task can be per­formed in just one go, you can eas­i­ly get your­self an overview of your aver­age work­day by look­ing at tasks which have been com­plet­ed and checked off some­what recently.

Find­ing the candidates

Go through the overview of all the tasks you usu­al­ly per­form and tag those which are poten­tial can­di­dates” for being del­e­gat­ed to some­one else. 
They might be:

  • Fre­quent­ly recur­ring tasks – Things you do pret­ty much the same way every time and at fre­quent and equal­ly spaced inter­vals. If you have described the steps of how to com­plete the task thor­ough­ly, you make it easy for the per­son who will be doing it instead of you from now on to learn how to do it (or rather, to learn how you have done it so far).
  • Tasks you are tired of doing – But isn’t it a bit cyn­i­cal to just pass what you have grown tired of on to some­one else? In my expe­ri­ence, the peo­ple around me are often more dif­fer­ent from me than I tend to assume. What I find dull and bor­ing, might be inspir­ing to some­one else. Vari­a­tion is a com­mon human need and a task that has become rou­tine for me might be a new and wel­comed ele­ment of vari­a­tion for the per­son I will del­e­gate it to. 
  • Tasks some­one else might do bet­terOK, so you’re the one who has been respon­si­ble for this task thus far, but lets be hon­est, are you real­ly the one per­son in the orga­ni­za­tion that would be most suc­cess­ful in deal­ing with the task? Would it ben­e­fit your and the company’s striv­ing towards the vision if a cer­tain cowork­er got to take on the task instead from now on?
  • Tasks some­one else might see as a chal­lenge – To del­e­gate might also be a way to encour­age a cowork­er who has shown ini­tia­tive and dri­ve. You won’t lead or man­age this orga­ni­za­tion for­ev­er, so you need to start cul­ti­vat­ing the com­pe­tence need­ed when you decide to leave. 
  • Tasks where your key-com­pe­tence is not uti­lized – This orga­ni­za­tion needs you because you have cer­tain qual­i­ties and qual­i­fi­ca­tions which are par­tic­u­lar­ly impor­tant and valu­able to the orga­ni­za­tion. If those qual­i­ties are put to prac­tice more, more val­ue is brought to the busi­ness (and to you per­son­al­ly). If you are more occu­pied with oth­er things, less time is spent doing what you do best. 
  • Tasks which you have been in charge of for­ev­er, which you enjoy doing and know pre­cise­ly how to do – Try del­e­gat­ing one of your babies”, an assign­ment you care for. They might be excit­ing and chal­leng­ing for some of your cowork­ers as well. They may be able to find solu­tions more orig­i­nal and inno­v­a­tive than you have (since you may have become blind to oth­er oppor­tu­ni­ties and pos­si­bil­i­ties than those you orig­i­nal­ly saw). In oth­er words, kill your darlings. 
  • Tasks which you fig­ure Well, that’s so com­pli­cat­ed I bet­ter do it myself” — What you once learned, you can teach oth­ers. That way you make more time to learn some­thing new, some­thing that inspires you. 

Task or result? 

Should you del­e­gate a detailed task or a desired result? As I see it, giv­ing direct com­mands doesn’t nec­es­sar­i­ly serve it’s pur­pose and the future is not nec­es­sar­i­ly to only del­e­gate all the respon­si­bil­i­ty to accom­plish cer­tain results, since again, all peo­ple are dif­fer­ent. Some peo­ple are more com­fort­able with vivid and detailed orders”, while oth­ers want to be del­e­gat­ed the trust to solve a prob­lem in a way that suits her/​him best. 
?I have been in won­der over why I for a long time had bike-mes­sen­ger” as one of my dream jobs. Prob­a­bly due to the beau­ty of hav­ing many, short, and well-defined tasks every day, where it is com­plete­ly clear to me when I have com­plet­ed a task and if I’ve suc­ceed­ed or not.

Be spe­cif­ic

One thing is for cer­tain. The more spe­cif­ic you are when you describe what has to be done (in terms of task or out­come), the eas­i­er and the bet­ter” it will ulti­mate­ly be done. It’s just like in your own life; if you got to-do-tasks which are vague­ly for­mu­lat­ed, it is easy to pro­cras­ti­nate them since you are not sure where to start.

Define, for example: 

  • What needs to be done or what result has to be achieved 
  • What back­ground infor­ma­tion the per­son you have del­e­gat­ed to need to have
  • What kind of mate­r­i­al he/​she need from you in order to com­plete the task 
  • When it has to be completed
  • What the restric­tions are, that is, how much can it cost, what the time-lim­its are, which peo­ple in the orga­ni­za­tion who also may be involved, etc

Use your wait­ing for”-list

Do fol­low-ups on the tasks you’ve del­e­gat­ed using your wait­ing for”-list. Write down on your list what tasks you’ve del­e­gat­ed to whom and when it should be com­plet­ed. Once a week, skim through the list and think about what things you are wait­ing for, and con­sid­er if now is the right time to get back to the one respon­si­ble for get­ting it done and see how they are get­ting along.

Even if you dropped the task for­ev­er” and you don’t expect the per­son in ques­tion to get back to you with any­thing, let the del­e­gat­ed task remain on your wait­ing for”-list for a few weeks and get in touch with the one respon­si­ble for it a cou­ple of times to check in and see if he/​she have any ques­tions regard­ing the task.

Enjoy that you don’t have to 

Every time you do a fol­low-up, take the oppor­tu­ni­ty to enjoy that it’s no longer you who do the task, but that you now can pay atten­tion to things that inter­est you more instead.

How do you do it?

How do you man­age del­e­gat­ing in a smooth and effi­cient man­ner, mak­ing it eas­i­er for you to focus on the tasks most impor­tant to you? 

You are most wel­come to leave a com­ment below.