Delegation and me…

0010354635U-565x849I’ve been thinking about delegation a lot recently.  My work life has become very busy with the influx of the new interns, and since I’m currently recruiting to fill a vacant position in my team as well, you can imagine how hectic life is.   I’m needing to delegate more and more and I worry that I am delegating boring and repetitive tasks, rather than delegating interesting and fulfilling work that will develop the interns.

I saw this blog post yesterday by Danielle Rainbolt, which lead to an interesting post about leadership: Top 10 things I wish I knew the day I became a leader by David Peck. David lists 10 things that I also wish I had known 10, 15 years ago.  It would have made my life so much easier!  Number 7 on his list however was about delegation:

Delegation is about trusting someone with responsibility and verifying they are handling it responsibly.

Obviously I agree with this statement.  For me it is quite obvious.  However, I then went on to read another blog post, this time specifically about delegation by author wotuw8ing4.  He quotes My Coach Bob:

Delegation is about giving away a project, not giving away a task

It made me think, so I started to analyse exactly what I delegate, why I do it and how I can do it better.

0010051796Q-849x565Why should I delegate?

Primarily most people delegate because:

No one can do everything; delegating frees you up to do other tasks.  When you quit worrying about minor tasks, it allows you to do more strategic work.  Highly paid people should not be doing low-skill work

Does that sound about right?  However, I’d like to point out that just because you are highly paid, it doesn’t mean that

Someone else cannot do your work better

So as Coach Bob said, perhaps we should be delegating projects rather than tasks.  This will aid in career development for your team; they will hone their skills by doing the work, and they will feel more fulfilled.  In addition, by delegating a project, you will have even more free time than if you delegated individual tasks.  They feel empowered and a culture of trust is developed.

0010357464U-849x565So then, when don’t I delegate?

Here’s my list – obviously yours might be different:

  • When I would be annoyed by being given that task to do.  I try to live by the adage “Never ask someone to do something that you would not be prepared to do yourself.”
  • When it takes longer to explain something than it would to do something.
  • When the work is beyond someone’s capability.
  • When there is a confidentiality issue.
  • When there is a lot at stake and I want to keep the control.

Obviously, I will continue to keep in place the first point on the list, but I am going to start to challenge the other points more.  Even if it might take longer to explain, or even if it is currently beyond someone’s capability, long-term it can still be better to delegate the work.  The more trained my team is, the better they will perform.

As for the confidentiality aspect, if you don’t trust your team, well they shouldn’t be your team!

The final point is difficult for me, and I suspect for others as well.  The higher the stakes, the harder it is to trust and to delegate, especially with a team of interns who do not have the same experience in the work environment.  Still, I am going to challenge myself on this issue as well.  The more you control, the less likely your team is going to be innovative and creative.  If you allow your team to choose their projects, manage their own time, and give them latitude to make decisions and take action without consulting you first then new leaders will naturally emerge.

My delegating plan

0010791924M-1920x1280 (Medium)

I am going to try to find balance between delegating repetitive tasks and missions / projects

I am going to trust my team more

I am going to continue to expand the capabilities of my team more and delegate even when it will initially cost me more time

I am going to meddle less and allow more innovation in my team and watch as new leaders emerge

What about you?

Alesandra Blakeston

8 thoughts on “Delegation and me…

  1. Hi Alesandra,

    I posted on delegation a few days ago, and under my “reasons people don’t delegate”, It did not occur to me to include one of the reasons you cite, that you don’t want to give people boring or mundane work. Now that you mention it, I can relate, and can see where I’ve not delegated myself because the job, well, sucked. But…even boring and tedious work needs to get done, and better it be done at the most cost-efficient level.

    As for the not enough time excuse, as per your new plan, you’ll soon see how much time you save in the long-run, just by the small investment in training.

    My post, “Delegation: Why, When, and How” is here:

    I learned a simple formula years ago and it’s been really useful.

    I’d love your feedback.


    1. Thanks Michael. I just scanned through your post. You’ve raised some excellent points yourself! As to not delegating boring tasks, of course everyone’s boredom level is different and tasks do have to be done at a cost-efficient level as you say. However, my point really is about balance. Making sure that NOT ONLY boring tasks are delegated.

      I did like your four step process and I think I use it. Often the back up step is missing and for me it is the most vital part! As a trainer, I always try to ensure that I challenge my team, but I also support them. Great post!

      Anyway thanks for stopping by. Glad you found the blog useful.

  2. Hi Alesandra,
    I wouldn’t worry about delegating tedious tasks. We’ve all done them, and at first most of us didn’t mind because we were still learning the trade – you did mention interns. Tasks an experienced professional views as boring may well be new to a young professional. Then there’s the matter of personality: we don’t all like or dislike the same things. And there’s more…
    The best part: every now and then you find yourself running into an intern or a young professional who points out easier ways to get a chore done that didn’t exist when you started out or which you weren’t aware of. A bonus, definitely.

    1. You’re right, of course. I guess my problem stems from the fact that I want everyone to be as motivated as I am and to enjoy their work. As you say though, we don’t all like the same things and young professionals do need to learn!

  3. Something my team and I have done together is work to identify and leverage our individual strengths. When I delegate, I try to be as purposeful as I can to align the project/task with their strengths, and to invite them to take on something new because of that strength. This approach has helped with engagement and empowerment for all of us!

    Thanks for your post!

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