Learn how to identify the tasks you can safely delegate to others.
- So here's the million dollar question. What should you actually delegate anyway? What's okay to delegate and what would be a tragic mistake? Here are some questions to ask yourself to answer this effectively. And, if you have the exercise file handy, feel free to follow along with it. If you don't, no worries. First, before you can figure out what to delegate, it's useful to get over an overall sense of the tasks you actually do. For a period of time, like a week or perhaps two weeks, write down every different task that you do. It's easy to forget if you try to do it all at the end of the day or every few days.
So, you might even want to set a timer every couple of hours to remind you to write things down. Your list might include things like respond to emails, book plane tickets, create a PowerPoint, write up a research memo, attend project meeting, brainstorm a list of suggestions for a new initiative, process invoices, or things like that. Next, once you have the complete list, look through it and make a note of which things, number one, you dislike doing, and, number two, possibly related to this, things that you procrastinate on.
If you really don't like something or you feel enough of a block or anxiety about it that you keep putting it off, that's often a sign you might be better off without it on your plate. That doesn't necessarily mean you should delegate it. Of course, you also need to find an appropriate person to delegate it to which we'll talk about later on, but it is an important clue. Now, look at the list again and search through it for tasks that other people in your orbit really love or are really good at. These might be things that you're fine doing or maybe even that you like, but if you have an employee or a colleague that is stellar at that thing, maybe it's worth thinking about handing it off to them so they can play to their strengths.
Again, no decisions yet, just possibilities to consider. In a similar vein, if you have employees who report to you or whom you're responsible for developing professionally, scroll through the list with them in mind. For each of them, what skills have they expressed an interest in getting better at and are there particular abilities you think it's important for them to cultivate in order to do their jobs well and advance at the company? Another screen you can use as you think about tasks to delegate isn't just what needs to get done today. It's about cultivating your employees for the future.
Think about whether any of these tasks might be good learning opportunities for them to take on. Finally, of course, go through the list one more time and circle the activities that you feel are truly at the heart of who are you and what you do. What on here is the place where you excel and make a unique contribution? Where do you add value that no one else can? If you're a graphic designer, for instance, it's a lot more important for you to spend your time designing than it is to write up expense reports. Keep your highest and best use activities close and consider everything else potentially delegatable.
With that frame in mind, you can turn to the next question. Who might you be able to delegate to and how do you do it effectively?