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Click here to view a video on how to delegate like a pro.

If you are still doing everything yourself, perhaps you are not using the talents of other people to best effect. Others can be of considerable help in allowing you to use your time better. If you take a little time to delegate to them properly, you can also help them to develop their own skills and thus save you time in the future.

Delegation is a very important tool to help you maintain your workload under control. While not directly related to prioritisation, it is mentioned here since it involves the decision of what not to do yourself.

Note that whether a task is delegated or not does not affect its priority. The task is still an A, B, C or D irrespective of whether you are doing it yourself or not.

Don't make the mistake of automatically delegating all your C tasks to others just because you can. The person receiving the task may place a much higher priority on it than you have and accidentally sacrifice more important work just to get it done.

In general, you should only delegate work that you know needs to be done. Otherwise, you are better off delaying low priority work until it is no longer required, or it becomes more important.

You Will Be Doing Better If
  • You delegate certain tasks instead of doing them all yourself.
  • You follow the guidelines when delegating.
  • You pass on interesting tasks and routine tasks in equal proportions.
  • You prevent someone else from wasting your time and theirs.
  • You communicate clearly, and you check that you are properly understood.
  • You verify what is required of you before you go ahead and do it.
  • You cannot think of anything that you have done recently which has wasted the time of others.

Helping others to help you make better use of your time is an essential part of managing your time well.

Delegating work can save you time if you make sure people know what they are doing, but you need to communicate properly and spend a little time ensuring that they are quite clear about what is required of them.

Equally, when you take on work you need to clarify exactly what it is that you are expected to do. Often others neglect to inform you sufficiently about what is required, and you could waste valuable time doing what you think is needed rather than what is.

It is alarming how much time is wasted repeating tasks unnecessarily. So, it is never a waste of time to check that you have fully understood what is needed. Making certain of the facts means that everyone makes better use of their time.

Delegating Work

Passing tasks on to others allows you more time for yourself. However, in the ‘leaner and fitter’ environment of many businesses, finding someone to pass the tasks to is often not easy.

Many people think that delegating is simply about passing work out willy-nilly and hoping that someone will do it properly. But there are some points which need to be observed if you are to ensure that tasks get done correctly and on time.

You need to:

  • Make sure you choose someone who is willing and able to do what needs to be done.
  • Tell the person precisely what you would like done and, if necessary, how you would like the work carried out. State the time-scale for the task and indicate how often you would like a progress report.
  • Assign a priority to the work being delegated so that it can be fitted in with other work, which that person must do.

Make sure the person who is taking on the work has the authority to carry out these responsibilities. If the work requires liaison with others, especially with senior people, make sure you ‘smooth the path’ for the person concerned. Above all, do not introduce anyone unprepared and unsupported into situations that may be fraught with problems such as company politics.

As well as defining the results you want, show that you care about them. If others know that you care about the task being completed successfully and on time, they will also care about achieving this.

Regularly review progress and discuss any problems being encountered when carrying out the work - especially if you are developing a person’s skills.

If you do not make it clear what is required and why, the task will be brought back to you to do all over again yourself. You may also have irretrievably upset the people you are delegating to, since they have not only failed to complete the task, but they have also wasted their time.

There are two other important things to remember:

  • Delegating efficiently means passing out the good things as well as the not-so-good things. It will soon be noticed if you only delegate the dreary tasks and keep all the attractive ones yourself. If this is happening, you cannot be surprised if people are reluctant to take on work from you or do not complete it on time.
  • You should not delegate work that you find difficult to do yourself. If you have problems, how will other people do any better than you? This is when you should be going to someone more expert to seek assistance, not leaving someone who is not competent to struggle on and ultimately be defeated and demoralised by the task.

Having Work Delegated to You

Working with others involves managing their time as well as your own. If other people are disorganised, they can waste your time. So, you must help them to make better use of your time and theirs by discussing with them:

  • Why the work must be done.
  • What is wanted - precisely.
  • When the work is required.
  • What form the work should take.

Knowing why the work is needed can give valuable clues as to what must be done. If the work is for internal use, a rough draft may be enough. Being able to focus on the end-receiver helps prevent time being wasted in providing the wrong sort of information. Knowing in what form it is required is even better. Producing a 5-page report when a verbal briefing would have done is clearly a waste of time.

Work out if what you have been asked to do fits in with your priorities. This way, you can make a sensible assessment as to whether what is requested can be fitted in without detracting from your own activities.

NB. If you do not find out, you can be laden with work, not of your own making, and may be unable to complete any of it satisfactorily. You may be a busy person, but also as one who is unable to get anything done on time.

Delegate work whenever possible. This does not mean simply passing your work to someone else. If constructively applied, delegation ensures that other people are also given the opportunity to acquire the skills and training to do the work.