It seems that at least once each week I hear the same five words from friends and clients: “I need to delegate more.” And then, immediately afterward, they say, “But I don’t think there’s anybody who will understand my work, take it as seriously as I do, and do a really great job.”
As a result, nothing gets delegated and they are left doing everything for themselves.
The problem, I’ve discovered, is not a lack of capable and committed people willing to help. It’s that people simply don’t know how to delegate and are afraid to let go, even a little. So they assume there’s no way forward.
Here’s what I recommend instead on your way to becoming a delegation rock star:
1. Do your research. It’s important to know what skills are needed by the person you’re going to hire. Just like hiring an accountant to do your taxes, you’ll want to find someone with expertise. If you need to delegate setting up your newsletter, find someone with experience using Mailchimp, Constant Contact or a similar program.
This may sound obvious, but I often hear solo professionals say they are thinking about hiring very smart friends, but I discover after a few questions they don’t have any relevant experience. You wouldn’t hire a “very smart friend” who knew nothing about cars to act as your auto mechanic – delegation of your business needs works the same way; specific skills are required.
2. Take time to plan. You’ve got to give the person doing the work enough time to schedule it into their calendar and get it done. This requires planning ahead. When I get ready to write my newsletter, for example, I ask my editor on Sunday or Monday if she has time for edits on Tuesday afternoon or Wednesday morning. I don’t just assume and send it over to her. You need to be prepared, too, for the answer to be “no” or “not this week.”
3. Provide specific information. “Can you handle this?” is not enough information for the person you’re delegating to – even if it’s a simple and (in your mind) self-explanatory task. Include details, timelines and any supporting information. For example: “I’m ready to publish my next newsletter. Attached is the word document and the images I’d like to use. Can we schedule it for this Friday at 6:00 am?” Be thorough: include deadlines and guidelines about how you’d like the work to be done.
4. Create check-in and control points. If you’ve delegated a project, schedule check-in points for milestones to make sure things stay on track. Sometimes there can be misunderstandings about the required tasks even when you both think you understand. Regular meetings will help with discovery and allow for adjustments.
5. Develop a communicative relationship. When you work with someone you are in a relationship with them. I don’t mean you need to be BFFs, but simple things that work in your other relationships will work in this one too. A simple, “Thank you – great job,” or “How was your weekend?” will go a long way. Be sure to answer questions about the project quickly so that it can stay on track and on time. Your work together will require conversation – either written or verbal.
My guess is that 99% of the time the person assisting you wants to do a good job. If that’s not happening, check these five points to see where you two might be going off track.