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  • Writer's pictureJeremy Cooper

How do delegate the right way

Now you know you need to stop doing what you don’t need to, how to do it

Over the last few newsletters, I’ve talked about focusing your workload on what provides the most value, what’s urgent, what can you get others to do etc. Therefore, I feel I should go into delegation a little bit as it can sometimes be a challenging task to do.

As we’ve discussed we can’t do all the work ourselves and shouldn’t either, but often we find we don’t trust someone enough to delegate work to them or it’s just quicker without others. This is short term thinking and causes you more stress, late nights, time away from the family etc. and means you’re often working on low level, low value tasks rather than working to the strategic elements you love or to your true values.

Also, how do you know the person can’t do it?

An attitude like this also means you’ll always be looking external for your successor as ‘no one in the company can do what I can do’ or you feel you can’t leave or change role as the team will fall apart. I’ve had these feeling more time during my career than I’d like to remember and it’s often a trait within IT staff due to deep technical knowledge but also the highly customised nature of a lot of our work, processes and systems. We probably make it harder than we need to, in order to show how smart we are 😉

In order to start delegating, list out your tasks using either the Time matrix or the Eisenhower matrix that were discussed in the previous newsletters

Then consider the following questions:

  • Does/could someone else knows the necessary information and can complete the task?

  • Will this give an opportunity for someone to grow or develop a skill?

  • Is it’s a reoccurring task that won’t change too much? (also, a great target for automation!)

  • Do I have enough time to train the person, provide guidance and review etc.?

This helps build a list of what you genuinely can delegate.

You’ll notice that there isn’t a question on what I hate doing. Delegation is about assigning tasks to people to free you up for the important work and provide opportunities for the person delegated to. It is NOT a tool to remove all the crap work from your day just for the sake of it!! This is not beneficial to the person getting the task and also shows you as a poor leader. There are times the job won’t be fun for the person, but it still must be delegated for the right reasons

Now you know what you need to delegate, who do you assign it to?

Roll of the dice, your best employee or leverage the trusty office wheel of fortune?

Hopefully you realised it’s none of the above, however it would be funny to use a wheel of fortune in team meetings 😏, I wonder if there is a Zoom or Teams add-on. You find the person that has the knowledge (preferably), has the time and resources to complete the task and is suited to it. By suited to it I mean don’t give a data task to someone who doesn’t get the value of data or isn’t very accurate as they won’t enjoy it or excel at it. Also, if you find the right person but they don’t have the time, but the opportunity would benefit them, you might need to see what they can delegate out also. Remember it can often be best to delegate the task to a person closest to the work, don’t be afraid to delegate to someone on the front line that is doing work related to the task or will understand the context really quickly rather than someone close to you as it’s easy. For example, if the task is regarding customer service feedback interviews, it is great to have someone from the Service Desk complete the task as they understand the customers well and will understand the feedback.

Delegation in not straight down the management org chart

When you’ve found that special person, make sure you’re clear on outcomes, timings, resources, constraints etc. Remember you’re setting them and you up for success at this stage, and therefore you still need to be available to support and guide them

A cautionary note that has caught me before - Is the task something you can let go of? Sometimes you have that pet project you do and deep down you’re very particular about it. Think very carefully about delegating this until you can separate emotion from it. Otherwise you’ll blame the other person for any issues or lack of quality even if they did an excellent job, but it wasn’t to your exact way.

Finally, it all comes down to ownership, trust and values. You are still accountable, you delegated it, you own it, this not a tool to remove responsibility or distance yourself from an issue!

"Delegation is the passing on of actions, not the passing on of responsibility" - Eric Edmeades

You have so much important work to do, by delegating you increase the amount of high value work delivered across your organisation, frees you up to be successful on your biggest goals and provides the career opportunities for your team to progress and have new, challenging work.


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