Updated: Aug 31
One of my favorite training modules is on Delegation. The tips are actionable both @home and @work, with co-workers, partners, and kids. Recently, I put the Delegation principles into action with my children at a Master’s level.
More on that shortly, but first let me share the four key components to successful delegation:
Trust: I trust that you can do the work, but I also trust you will ask for more guidance if you lack clarity or want more direction.
Instructions: Be clear as to what is expected and when; better to be redundant and specific rather than make assumptions that there is alignment on what you want.
Expectations: My personal addition to successful delegation, expectations help us to align on timelines in order for you to successfully schedule the task. How long to do you expect this work / project / assignment to take. Without clarity on expectations, it is hard to plan and deadlines may be missed due to a lack of understanding of scope. It is also a chance for the delegatee to point out any concerns about finishing what you need by your deadline.
Empower: Let it go. There are always opportunities for feedback, but ask yourself ‘Is it wrong, or is it not my way’ if you find yourself re-doing work that was completed as assigned.
So, I was scheduled to move, but had to leave town when my father needed emergency surgery. A move is stressful as is, but imagine if you weren’t going to be present to supervise or actually participate. In that moment, I felt like I had no choice but to delegate the move to my 23-year-old son and 19-year-old daughter. We each had to be where we were needed most, and I was needed in Florida. Let’s break down the delegation paradigm.
Trust: Implicitly I had to trust that my children were capable of managing and executing this task. I did. I knew that directions I outlined would be followed (close enough) and that if they had questions along the way, text, phone calls, and FaceTime would serve us well. I trusted they would ask if they had questions and that ultimately, we were all in this together so they had a vested interest in completing the project to our collective satisfaction.
Instructions: Before I left, I outlined my vision of how the move would go: priorities, helpers, timeline – all of the logistics, so we were, from the outset, aligned on the vision. This was an opportunity for them to ask questions and for us to work through any anticipated issues.
Expectations: Their assignment was to move as many of our belongings as they could or that we would not want the professional movers to transport: clothes, pantry, garage items, housewares, pictures, etc. We needed clarity on the expectations of scope and also how much time I anticipated the work to take so they could enlist friends who would be paid for their time. In turn, they communicated with their ‘workforce’ on arrival, breaks and end of day.
Empower: You might say I had no choice; they were inherently empowered to do the work as soon as I boarded the plane, but to truly empower them, I needed to not second guess or question the outcomes once I returned. What was moved, where items were unpacked, how cupboards and closets looked, the organization or disorganization did not matter. It was not wrong, even if everything was not my way.
In the end, the move went smoothly and everyone was successful in their assigned priorities. Sure, there were “opportunities for feedback”, but not to a level of making anyone feel like they had done a poor job or did anything wrong.
So what could you successfully delegate to kids or colleagues to free you up to do the work worth doing?