Get More Done by Doing Less

C'mon, King!

In today’s fiber optic-fueled world, we barely find the time to do what needs to be done, let alone what we want to get done. We’re just too busy with work, family, friends, pets, etc. The boss wants this, the spouse needs that, and the pets need watering and the plants need to go…no wait…the plants need watering and the pets need to go outside. See? It’s just too much work trying to keep it all in perspective…and on track.

What if I told you there was a way to help balance it all out? Would you be interested? Let’s hope so. There are a number of ways that you can try to squeeze more into a single 24-hour span, and we’ll discuss some of them in future posts. But for today, let’s focus on just one of them – delegation.

Delegation is one of the most powerful tools in your manger/leader toolbox. It is really a dual-edged sword, delivering more time to you and getting more done. Plus, it has a secret bonus effect – it provides growth opportunities for those being delegated to.

So maybe you’re thinking that delegation is too hard or you just don’t know how to do it well. Or perhaps you think that your people will regard this as an act of dumping more work on them. Those are valid concerns, and they all depend on your method of delivery.

Understand that delegation might not be the easiest thing for a manager to do, but it is one of the most rewarding – both for you and your team members. Let’s take a look at the right way to get more done through the assistance of others.

There are three steps.

  1. Plan
  2. Ask
  3. Clarify

PLAN  Successful delegation starts with planning. This is the most important step, because without proper planning, your delivery will sound stilted, weak, or authoritarian…and you might delegate the wrong tasks. With that in mind, let’s map out a simple way to prepare for your next delegation opportunity.

  1. Write down all of your current tasks/responsibilities on a sheet of paper.
  2. Strike through the two or three top jobs you have to do or are most important to your job.
  3. Circle the ones that you can delegate and think about the people who are most able (and likely willing) to do those jobs.

Great! Now you know exactly what to delegate and whom to delegate to. Next step.

ASK  This can step can be tricky, because we tend to jump ahead, but ease into the ask and resist the temptation to move into the details of the task.

  1. State your need for help. Say something like, “Hey, Ben. I need your help with the Friday reports.”
  2. Explain why you chose them. Say something like, “You’re the best researcher and you have the diligence to get things done on time, every time. And I appreciate that.”
  3. Ask for their acceptance. Say something like, “Would you be willing to help me out with this?”

Stop. Notice that you don’t go into detail about the reports or how you want them done. You simply want to put the idea out there and see if you get a bite. If they do accept the challenge, then you go into clarifying the details of the task. If not, you have a great opportunity to do a little coaching. But let’s assume they accept this new responsibility. On to Step 3.

CLARIFY  Now is when you get into the details of the task. You want be very clear about these details so your direct report has all the resources and knowledge accessible to be successful at this new task.

  1. Discuss time and quality standards. You need to make sure that they are meeting your standards and you have time to review the work before you need to turn it in.
  2. Implement a follow-up schedule. Follow-up is critical to early success. Do not allow this task to go unchecked for too long. New tasks require lots of immediate feedback, so the direct report feels competent and confident.
  3. Offer assistance. Don’t actually offer to do some of the work; just make sure you provide all necessary resources, whether human or material. More new responsibilities fail from lack of resources than any other reason.

Using this format will increase you capacity to get more done every day and provide growth opportunities for your staff. Just remember to prepare, and maybe even rehearse out loud, so you feel comfortable in your next delegation offer. Now go out there and give it your best shot!

Image: baloocartoons.com

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