Delegation is one of the secrets of good time management. But many people are reluctant to delegate because it often seems more trouble than it’s worth. When people you are depending on forget important tasks or miss deadlines it can be more than frustrating - it can be positively damaging. So here’s my Top 10 Tips on how to delegate effectively. And if you have a tip which you think should be in the Top 10, then tell us about it in the Comments.
1) Ask yourself which parts of your work can only be done by you. Then aim to delegate as much of the rest as possible so that you are free to make the most of your own work.
2) Never delegate even the simplest task without saying when you want it completed by.
3) Where possible, get the person to set the deadline themselves. Make it clear that you expect them to keep to it.
4) Always put a follow-up reminder in your schedule or Task Diary to check that the work has been done. Everytime you fail to do this, you have lost control of that part of your work.
5) Always chase work immediately if it hasn’t been done by the time you requested it. If you don’t, they will think it’s not important.
6) Break down large tasks into stages and set deadlines for each. Spell out what should have been achieved at each deadline. Don’t say “Let me know in a week’s time how you’re getting on”. Instead say “Send me the draft for the first section by lunchtime Friday.”
7) Remember you can delegate upwards and sideways as well as downwards, and the same rules apply when you do.
8) When someone overruns a deadline don’t say “Why haven’t you done it?”. Instead say: “I’m not interested in why you haven’t done it. What I want to know is when you will have done it.”
9) Remember no one is going to give the work they are doing for you more importance than you give it. So if they think you don’t care about it, why should they?
10) Remember that people whose time management is bad tend to react to what is making the most noise at the time. The way to get them to give your work priority is to make more noise than the other calls on their time.
If anyone consistently fails to do the work you are asking them to do in spite of your keeping to these rules, then you should cease to use their services. You are not doing them any favours by ignoring their poor performance.