Delegate Your Way to Effectiveness - 6 Actions You Can Take

Are you a good delegator?

As leaders and business owners, our tasks are endless - and range from crucial to trivial. A few are things only we can do. What if we delegated the rest?

Here's 6 helpful actions:

1. Audit yourself. How are you really spending your time? Take a few minutes to reflect on your week and do a rough pie chart of how you spend your working hours. Then draft a pie chart for how you would spend your time "in a perfect world." The items that didn't make it to the second chart probably need to be delegated (or done more efficiently.) 

2. Delegate to yourself. Sounds weird, but sometimes that mental framework can speed up our productivity on the trivial or routine. For items you'd like to delegate to someone else but can't, give yourself a clear task and purpose and a set amount of time. Protect that time so that you aren't pulled into other obligations. 

3. Be prepared to coach. In an article in Harvard Business Review, Sabina Nawaz calls it a "dream" to expect instant success when we delegate a task. She says, "Delegation is a shared task," as we'll need to invest time in coaching until the team member is proficient. It's a common peril for leaders to give a task and walk away - expecting success to magically appear with no further involvement. It's no coincidence that the Army's 8 Troop Leading Procedures conclude with "Supervise." 

4. Endorse mistakes. This is closely related to #3. As an Infantry company commander, my lieutenants once gave me feedback that I needed to "give them enough rope to hang themselves." And if they did metaphorically hang themselves, I needed to endorse their mistakes rather than metaphorically yank their legs to finish the job. The anecdote may sound morbid, but it was good advice. When learning new tasks or taking initiative, team members will make mistakes. Endorse those. It's worth it. 

5. Outsource. When internal options are limited, look outside.  In building this website, I initially tried my own hand at it. I quickly saw my limitations - both creative and time. It also occurred to me that if I encouraged clients to hire an "Outsider Consultant," I should take my own advice. So I outsourced to Joel Griffith at Loud Speaker Creative

(For some humor and outside-the-box business and personal outsourcing, check out CNBC's roll up of strangest jobs through TaskRabbit.) 

6. Leverage technology. "There's an app for that." Siri has been a top performer in my company for months - ever since I discovered that I can simply speak appointments and reminders  into the phone in seconds. Even if you're a digital immigrant (like me), a minimal amount of time researching current apps can have a great ROI. (Example lists here and here.) 

A quick reminder - delegation should be viewed in light of the development and empowerment of our teams. We may delegate tasks, but it's shortsighted to see any team member as just "making my life easier." As leaders, we have the opportunity and obligation to develop our team members, helping them grow far beyond where they are today.