15 November, 2009

Do What You Do Best; Delegate the Rest

There is a strong likelihood that the things you do best are those for which you would pay another person your hourly rate. Another way of stating this is, "delegate any tasks that can be performed by a person earning less than your hourly rate—or your desired hourly rate."

Delegate to a Person with Demonstrated Competence
Having determined what to delegate, the next step is to select the person to whom you will delegate the task. If you delegate an important task to a person who is incapable of performing adequately, you are setting that individual up for failure while inviting disappointment and frustration on your part. This is not to say the person has to be as capable as you. But he must have sufficient skills and experience to effectively perform the delegated task. Choose carefully. It is in the best interest of the person to whom you are delegating and of course, in your own best interest as well.

Define the Task Clearly
Be clear as to your intended outcome. What is the end result you want to achieve when the delegated task has been completed? Make every effort to describe this clearly to the person to whom you are delegating the task. Then ask her to repeat her understanding of the assigned task. If her description is not an accurate summary of what you want to accomplish, explain the differences in detail and ask her to again feed back to you her understanding of the assignment. If the two of you do not start out on the same page, there is little likelihood of success.

Set a Deadline
Set a clear deadline for completion of the delegated task. Do not be vague. An ambiguous target such as "sometime next week," or "as soon as you can get it done" will not serve either of you well. Without a clearly defined completion date, there will be no sense of urgency, and the job may very well drag on ad infinitum, frustrating you both.

Establish Benchmarks
It will be important for both of you to be able to gauge the progress being made as the delegated task is carried out. Specifically, how will you measure this progress? Reach agreement on the yardstick by which you will make such judgments.

Agree on Consequences
What will be the consequences of the person successfully completing the delegated task? Are these consequences known by the person charged with the responsibility of carrying them out? Are they important to him? Will they serve to motivate him? The consequences do not have to be enormous, but they should be meaningful to him. Otherwise they will have little effect. Their emotional import is what will have the greatest affect.

Put it in Writing
Before the delegated assignment is launched, there is one additional important step. Have the entire process described to this point documented in a written agreement. Then, have each of you sign it. Psychologically, this final step transforms your mutual understanding into a commitment.