Today in the 31 Days To A Less Stressful Life Challenge your task is to delegate a job you would normally do to someone else.
Delegation is time management kryptonite, but like any powerful substance, it has to be handled carefully. You'll need to climb the delegation slope, as it often seems initially to take longer to delegate a task than to do something yourself.
The Delegation Slope
There's a saying which runs:
If you want to get something done, ask a busy person.
The thing to hold onto is that if you don't delegate any of the tasks on your plate, everything that needs doing is always yours and yours alone to do. Believing yourself to be the only person who can carry out all the tasks sent your way is a recipe for becoming over-stretched and in the end is self-defeating.
One good question to ask yourself is this:
"What are the few tasks/jobs that I and I only I can do?"
In my experience that's usually a smaller list than everything that's sitting on your to-do list.
Six Reasons To Choose Delegation
Here are six major reasons why delegation should feature in your stress-busting armoury.
- Delegation inspires loyalty in the people you trust.
- Delegation strengthens your team as members develop new skills and capabilities.
- Delegation speeds things up as not everything has to funnel through you.
- Even when you're not around, things will still get done.
- Your reputation as a trusting manager grows and with it trust that you can get things done by getting the most from your team.
- You preserve valuable time to concentrate on being strategic about your next move.
3 Delegation Options
Let’s look at three ways you could effectively delegate a job to someone else.
1 Delegate to Another Team Member
If you’re fortunate to be a member of a team you can maximise the team’s productivity by starting a conversation about team roles.
Remember that in addition to a team member’s specific role (doctor, nurse, therapist, admin) each team member also has a set of skills. Their skills might be unrelated to the requirement of the job they currently have.
- A team member might have excellent communication skills which would be useful in sharing team objectives with the group.
- A team member might have an interest in IT which might make them the right person to prepare the slide-deck or pull together the spreadsheet you need.
- One of the team might be a great organiser who could figure out how to plan the seminar or take responsibility for planning the team away day.
You're never going to access these additional skills if you don't get to know your team members. Running a team based tool like MBTI can be a great way to uncover capabilities that are normally hidden from view.
The social element in successful teams is always an important ingredient. People are often very willing to go the extra mile for people they know and like. Invest in your team by getting to know them a little better and you can access new dimensions in team productivity that a more formal and hierarchical approach won't get close to.
As team leader here are two questions you could ask yourself:
- Is the team playing to their strengths?
- Could something you’re struggling with be better done by another team member?
2 Delegate To A Subordinate
To delegate to a subordinate, you’ve got to spend the time necessary to make sure the person, a) understands what’s required and can do the job b) monitor their progress until you’re confident things are working as expected.
This is why it can feel like more work when you start to delegate. I call this the delegation slope.
Delegation, however, does pay you back, so definitely make sure you maximise the potential to delegate downwards.
3 Delegate By Outsourcing
This is something I only recently started doing. If you spend three hours a month doing something routine or administrative, put a price on your time.
If you were paying yourself by the hour, how much are you worth?
I recently had to migrate my website to a new server. This is a moderately complex technical task would take me many hours to achieve. I decided that it would be a more productive use of my time to focus on other areas. I found a way to outsource this work and I'm confident that in doing so the outcome will be better than if I’d tried to do it myself.
I also save myself a lot of time which I was able to use on more important areas.
You can find a huge list of potential outsourcing solutions in this post about outsourcing your battle with stress.
You can start outsourcing for as little as five dollars.
Overcome Your Resistance
One thing to bear in mind is that people avoid delegating tasks for a variety of reasons.
- Fear that the person will not do the the delegated task well — see the delegation slope above.
- Fear that the person will do the job better than you — come on, get over it.
- Belief that delegation is too risky — not every task can or should be delegated.
To manage the risk involved in delegation here are seven ways you can minimise the perception of risk:
- Consider whether the person to whom you're delegating has done similar tasks before.
- Does the person have the necessary skills and knowledge?
- Is some form of training appropriate before handing on the task — even if this is just a quick run through?
- Does the person have an appetite to do more? It's easier to make delegation work with a willing volunteer.
- Ensure you clearly communicate your expectations.
- Build some check-points in so you can assess whether things are on track.
- Once completed, review how well things have worked and take any lessons forward into your next go at delegation.
Today's challenge is to look at all the available tasks on your to-do list. Work out which of them you can delegate by involving a team mate, or asking a subordinate or by outsourcing.
I guarantee there'll by at least one task and usually many more that you can get off your plate. Imagine the relief you'll feel when someone else is working on one or more of your tasks.
So take action today and create some much needed headroom for yourself!
What Worked For You? Leave A Comment Below
Which jobs have you decided to delegate?
Tell us what your experience was like by leaving a comment.
Other Posts In This Series
- Day 0: Introduction
- Day 1: Are You Ready To Face Up To The Challenge?
- Day 2: How To Accurately Identify Your Stress Signals
- Day 3: The Best Way To Deal With Feeling Overwhelmed
- Day 4: How And Why Being More Assertive Unlocks Your Happiness
- Day 5: How To Create Healthy Boundaries That Will Reduce Your Stress
- Day 6: How to Sleep Better at Night Naturally
- Day 7: How to Answer What Kind of Person Are You?
- Day: 8: How To Build Some Headroom Into Your Day