MY Hines

Keywords for Delegation – Let Go!

Posted on: March 23, 2010

I am probably not the best person to be giving tips on delegation. It is something that I struggle with for multiple reasons – I like the control, I used to do it all, and sometimes I am delegating stuff I wish I had the time to do. But, realistically, I can’t find new things that I may like to do if I’m so busy trying to do everything still. Now, when I think about delegation, I simply think ‘Let Go’ and sometimes that helps.

But of course, Let Go means a lot more than just those two words:
Loosen up
Expect the unexpected
Take time to prepare

Go away
Open up for interpretation

Here is an in-depth look at each of these and what they mean to me. They may mean something else to you, but in this field, I’m sure we all agree any help is worth it.

Loosen up – If we continue to run the tight ship, running the 101 tasks daily, and not allowing for fun, our staff aren’t going to want the assigned tasks when it is finally assigned to them. Plus, that one thing you may be holding onto because you really really want to do it may be the thing your staff person really is going to shine with, or that task may give them a challenge that raises them to the next level. If you don’t shake it up and drop the reigns, you will never find out. My perfect example is when I gave up the employee newsletter. I had been the person who brought back the employee newsletter in 2000 when I was an intern. I had done it for years with very LITTLE assistance. I would even work on it from home when I simply couldn’t get it done at the office. Giving it over to my staff – wow – it was amazing. She is doing a great job, it’s growing in new directions, and now I don’t have to stress about getting it done at home. Better yet, she is now able to take on larger newsletters, such as the agency newsletter, which means more that I can delegate. I wouldn’t have known this if I hadn’t loosened up and allowed it to happen.

Expect the unexpected – In general, this is one of my everyday mottos (along with never a dull moment). You may be able to hand off a task to someone else and magically it grows simply because that person is able to give it the time and attention that it deserves. There may be a surge of new ideas, new interest in it, or simply it transforms into something else. You should never expect the task to stay exactly the way you would have done it and you should be prepared to see it unfold in a different way. Unexpected does not always mean bad.

Take time to prepare – The worst thing you can do is to assign a task over and not spend the time with the staff explaining the task. Sometimes it’s just a simple email, but sometimes you really do have to explain face-to-face what the task is. You may have to be a sounding board for ideas and help with brainstorming if the task is creative. Sometimes you are going to have to teach the task to hand it over. Whatever the task is, don’t always assume you can just assign and walk away. You are the expert so be prepared to teach the task. I found this was the case when I was training staff on how to create email address distribution lists. I could have just opened up Exchange and showed them, but what good would that have been? I waited until there were several addresses to make, I made sure that there was proper documentation, and then I walked them through making the email distribution list and then had them finish together the other addresses that were needed. That time spent will equate to success down the road when the email address needs to be created again.

Go away – What good is delegation if you are always there? I know that there are some things that I can’t stand working on when other people are around. I find it easier to work when no one is there. This is especially the case with new things. The same thing may apply to your staff. You have to simply give up that control and trust that it is going to get done. The best way to do this is to leave. It’s the reason why we delegate and you will never know if delegation is working if you are always there. Now, this has been simpler said than done, I must admit. I currently share my office with my staff so even if I am working on other things, I’m sharing the space while they are working on tasks. But I am finding it easier to leave “early” (which really means earlier than I used to leave and it does not mean less than 8 hours of work). It is also easier to go to meetings and know that things are ok.

Open up for interpretation – Your idea of what the end product may be can be completely different from the staff’s idea and you should be ready to see that happen. If you want it to be completed in a very specific way, make that the expectation. But if the task is creative or open-ended, don’t let your picture of the completed task derail the work that was done. Again, this one is so difficult for me – especially on things that I used to do all the time. I had that reaction in my stomach the first time I saw the employee newsletter – but I stopped that reaction because you know what, it looked better than when I had done it. It was more personalized and exciting because there wasn’t a rush to get it done as quickly as possible. interpretation is a good thing.


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