Delegating. It's a dilemma that has plagued business owners since the beginning of time.
You know the power of delegation. You have way too much on your plate and you know you need to hand things off. But every time you try, you think one of the following:
- "It's just easier to do it myself."
- "I'm too busy to take the time to explain this to someone."
- "I've tried to delegate in the past, and the results were terrible."
While these statements may very well be true, if you commit to spending a little time and effort upfront to set up the delegation process correctly, the time you'll save in the long-term will be astronomical.
The Right Way to Delegate Tasks
It would be amazing if people could just read our minds and be able to take a task and run with it and deliver it exactly as you expect it to. However, mind-reading is not possible yet, so it's your responsibility as the delegator to clearly communicate your expectations. This is the ONLY way the person completing the task will know what you're looking for.
What does this mean?
- Clearly communicating the scope and expectations of the deliverable
- Clearly communicating the urgency or importance of the request
- Approving negotiated delivery date and time estimate
- Accepting or renegotiating the delivered work
- Giving and accepting useful feedback on the process/work
The Delegation Process
Step 1: Assigning the Task
This might be in a conversation, slack message, email, or the creation of a new task in your project management tool (recommended). Regardless of the tool you're using, all communication about the task should be done in that place.
The important part of this step is a clear description of deliverables and expectations.
You should be communicating:
- Scope of the task
- Medium for delivery
- Size, shape, and number of tasks they are asking the person to provide
- Access, Assets, and Information the person will need to execute
- Any Internal/external resources they should use
- Communication expectations/milestones (do you want them to give you updates throughout the project?)
- Reason for this project/task (this helps the person have a better context for the task, and in turn, will become more invested/connected)
If the deliverables, timeline, and/or expectations are not clear, the person doing the work may make assumptions and go in the wrong direction or spend more time than they should or deliver the work in a completely useless format.
Pro Tip: For recurring tasks, create a bulleted process in a Google Doc or a Loom video of you walking through and narrating the task. This will make the task quick and easy to hand off to someone.
Step 2: Negotiation of Deliverables and Timelines
The person doing the work should be empowered to ask questions for clarity, request access to tools they need, and negotiate the timeline if needed.
You have two responsibilities: To be responsive to the things they need so that the project can get started and to be flexible as flexible with the timeline as possible. Remember, if the person carrying out the task feels rushed, the quality will suffer.
Step 3: Commitment
Both you and the person doing the task should communicate their commitment to the deliverables and timelines that have been agreed upon.
If anything changes in the scope or timeline, it is your responsibility to communicate that with the person doing the work ASAP. Remember, they still can't read your mind, so if something changes, they need to know so they can deliver to your expectations.
Step 4: Delivery & Acceptance
Once the work is delivered, you should communicate to the person that you received it and accept it as complete per your expectations. If using a project management tool, be sure to mark the task as complete!
Step 5: Feedback & Improvement
If you are not happy with the deliverable, be sure to communicate that to the person (in a nice way).
Ask questions to determine how the process could be improved in order to get better results.
- Were you clear in your assignment?
- Did the person doing the task have all the access and information needed?
- Did your expectations change in the middle of the project and was that communicated with the person?
- Were you responsive to questions?
If you can get to the root of the breakdown (hint: it's almost always a communication issue), you can work with the person to improve the process next time. Once you work out the kinks, the process will go so fast
Successful Task Delegation Example
Task: Research SEO Tools
Description: We need a new SEO tool because the one we’re using (SEM Rush) isn’t giving us the data we need.
Here’s what we need the tool to do: X, Y, Z
We don’t care about features like: A, B, C
We only want to spend $100/month or less on a tool
Please send me a Google Spreadsheet of 3-5 different tools that fit the above parameters. The information we’ll need is: Name, website, cost
Can you have this to us by Monday 10/28?
Delegatee: Hi @name! Sure, I can provide you a Google spreadsheet of 3-5 different SEO tools that have the feature X, Y, Z and are $100/month or less including name, website, and cost.
This will take approximately 1-2 hours.
I’m out of the office tomorrow, so would Tuesday 10/29 work for delivery?
Approval & Acceptance
You: Hi @name! Great! I approve the time estimate and yes, Tuesday 10/29 works just fine. Have a great day off!
*Update due date to reflect agreed upon date.
Delegatee: Hi @name! Great! I’ll deliver this by Tuesday 10/29. Thank you!
Delegatee: Hi @name! I ran into an issue. I’ve been digging and was only able to find 2 tools that meet your parameters. I’ve put in 1 hour so far. Would you like me to keep working on it?
You: Hi @name! Thanks for letting me know! If you could please spend another 30 minutes trying to track down at least 1 more, that would be great. If you can’t, please add the others you’ve found (that don’t match the parameters) to the bottom of the spreadsheet so I can review them. Thank you!
Delegatee: Hi @name! Will do! Thank you!
Delegatee: Hi @name! Attached please find the Google Spreadsheet of research on the SEO Tools. Please let me know if you have any feedback.
You: Hi @name! Thanks so much! This looks great and is exactly what I wanted. I appreciate your help!
Delegating can be scary, but when you take the steps to communicate clearly, it can make your day-to-day tasks a lot easier to manage.
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