Five steps to delegation

Having too much to do seems to be a permanent feature of working for yourself.

Oops, hang on a tick while I just answer the phone, send three emails and find a cure for cancer. OK, now where was I?

Oh yes. If you’re way too busy, but you’re lucky enough to have a helper, here are five steps to delegation, and giving yourself space to think.

1. Accept that, in the first instance, it’s going to take you longer to successfully delegate a task than it would to do it yourself.
(This is nearly always true, or you would have already delegated all those tasks long since, and you wouldn’t be bothering to reading this. The magic of delegation is that once you’ve gone through the trouble of successfully delegating something, the next time your helper will be able to do it by themselves. You’ll be able to get on with something else like sitting down with a nice cup of tea. Note that step 1 is the hardest step. Steps 2 to 5 are a breeze by comparison.)

2. Make a list of five things that your helper could do for you.

3. For each one, write down how you’re going to know whether they’ve done it, and done it properly.

4. Choose two from the list, and go ahead and delegate. Make sure to explain the tasks, the steps needed to get it done, and when you need it done by. You might like to explain why it needs doing and why it’s important to you, and finish by asking if they have any questions.
(Your helper is not a mind reader and most likely not a stand-out genius either, otherwise, you’d probably be the helper, innit.)

5. After a decent interval, return to your helper and check whether they have done the tasks to your satisfaction. If yes, return to step 2 and repeat the cycle. If no, hold a post mortem to understand what happened. Do not under any circumstances allow the helper to return the dead body of the failed task to you. Understand the obstacles, and talk the helper through all the steps needed to bring the task back to health. Wait again for another decent interval, then repeat step 5.

My brethren, go forth and delegate. May peace be upon you.

About the author

Jessica Kennedy
Wednesday, 13 June, 2012 - 12:56
United Kingdom

Jessica is an acupuncturist,, and the founder of