“It’s quicker if I just do it myself.”
“I’ll do a better job of it.”
“I’ll end up re-doing it myself anyway.”
We’ve all heard the excuses; perhaps we’ve even uttered a few of them. There are plenty of reasons not to try delegating, but in our line of work, it’s clear that the pros of assigning work to others far outweigh the cons:
You can’t grow as a leader if you’re always doing below-your-paygrade tasks.
Your company can’t scale if its leaders are focusing on their individual contributions.
You’ll never have time for the things that matter if you don’t learn to pass work off.
Your team will get frustrated if they’re not given chances to grow and excel or exposed to new tasks and opportunities.
To delegate successfully, it helps to be clear, to personalize your ask, and to make time to check in on progress.
Here’s a loose framework you can make your own:
Give them the high level
Share what it is you’d like the person to do. A la, “I’d love your help putting together a communications matrix for the team.”
Give some context: what’s the task or project for? Why is it important?
For example: “This will reduce misunderstandings and impact how we work together every day.”
Match the project to the individual
Essentially, explain why you’ve chosen this person for this assignment. “You’re good at bringing order to things,” and “You did a fantastic job compiling [a similar project],” are good approaches here.
Ask if they’re interested.
“Can I count you in?” or “How does that sound?”
Set expectations/explain what the finished project might look like.
“For this task, it would be great to see a spreadsheet/report/slide deck/detailed analysis...” (Be specific. This step will save you time later on.)
Share a timeline.
Either share a hard deadline or ask, “When would be realistic to check in on this?”
Define next steps
Help get them started by perhaps sharing what your first steps would be. For extra certainty, consider calendaring a check-in or making a note to reach out a day or two before the assignment is due.
The longer you’re working with someone or the more competent they are, the less you’ll need to lean on this kind of framework going forward. For less-experienced team members (or more complex tasks), try a phased approach to delegation. For example:
“Why don’t you shadow me on this project?”
“Next time, why don’t you give it a go and I’ll stay close by to guide you through anything tricky?”
“Time for you to go it alone... Let me know if you have any questions.”
“How did it go?”
We’re big fans of making life easier. To that end, consider keeping a delegation email template in your drafts folder and simply adapting it each time you’d like to assign a task.
Pencil or Ink is an NYC-based communications company that helps individuals and businesses lead. We offer individual coaching, group workshops & facilitations, and strategic communications support. Talk to us here, here, or here.