There are things you want to do and things you have to do. Eventually everyone finds there is very little time to do both. The only way out of this fix is to delegate the Have To tasks to someone else. This is harder than it sounds as most people, whether they want to admit it or not, are at heart control freaks!
Whether you’re trying to pass on a task to an employee, colleague, or even a family member, there are two basic reasons you don’t delegate tasks you dislike.
A. You don’t trust other people to do the task “right”.
B. You can’t or won’t take the time to teach someone to do it “right”.
“right” being the way in which you think it should be done.
In either case, most people choose the path of least resistance, which is to simply do the task themselves. Unfortunately, this approach perpetuates poor productivity and overload. Don’t fret! Here are some simple (not necessarily easy) tips to help you break the job-hogging cycle.
1. Keep a Process Diary
If you are ever going to fully trust someone else to do the job, you first must extract the detailed information from your brain. Keep notes in a file on your computer or on a little pad every time you work on a Have To task. Just jot down a few inside tips about getting the job done your way. A few minutes of writing each time you do the task will create a complete insider’s guide in no time. These little guides help potential delegates get tasks close to right the first time. Ultimately, these guidance manuals and a little tolerance on your part for slight imperfections will help your team grow more confident and efficient when taking on tasks from you.
2. Dedicate Lunch to Learning
Assuming the people around you are ready, willing, and able to take on new tasks, they probably lack the information and training. If you keep waiting to teach them until the task is upon you, they’ll never be capable of freeing you from the task. Be proactive by using casual time to educate new people on your Have To tasks. Whether it’s one person or 20, buy lunch for anyone who wants to learn. A few meals later, you’ll have plenty of alternative resources when you are ready to focus your time and energy back on Love To tasks.
3. Encourage Self-Delegation
One person’s dreaded task may be another person’s dream job. Create a physical or electronic message board in an easily seen place in your work place where people can list tasks they are anxious to pass along. Offer desirable rewards to those who will learn, take on, and perform these tasks to acceptable standards. You’ll encourage a culture of empowerment by saying any job is here for the taking and simply pointing to the board when someone asks: Hey! How does a person get bonuses or promotions around here?
In case you’re still struggling to delegate, here is a dramatic measure from Kinko’s founder Paul Orfalea. Several years ago, at a conference of the Entrepreneur’s Organisation, he relayed this critical and effective advice regarding delegation:
If you go on holiday for one week, you’ll come back to two weeks of work.
If you go on holiday for two weeks, you’ll come back to four weeks of work.
If you go on holiday for three weeks, people seem to figure it out for themselves.
Go enjoy a three-week holiday so you can come back to just the tasks you love to do. It really works!