The art of telling people what to do has been studied for many years. Most everyone agrees that being clear about what you want done is critical to success. It seems obvious. The reality is that many people trying to teach, show, or tell others how to do something get frustrated.
The reason for this is surprising for many. As an expert, not everyone can do what you do – tasks that seem easy to you are not easy for someone else. Not everyone was graced with your experience and ability. It’s counter productive to assume that people are “dumb” or that “it’s faster to do it myself.” They need guidance – that’s not anyone’s fault. Help guide them and you will be pleased with the results.
One of the easiest ways to get started delegating is to write down what you want someone to do before you ask them to do it. This is more than just writing down a broad task, it’s about writing down the steps required to get the job done. You need to write down the process in 1-2-3 style baby steps.
Writing down the steps has another benefit as well. Someone can tell you where they are stuck. “I’m trying to take out the garbage like you asked, but here in step 2 it says I need to unlock the back gate – Where is the key?” This has monumental benefits for clearer communications and minimizing the time it takes for you to interviene and diagnose someone else’s difficulties.
Another overlooked delegation skill is to identify who to go to when a step in the process breaks down. In big business these are called escalation profiles. In small business the rules are similar. You should let folks know who to go to if they are stuck on a certain step. For example, in the process of getting your home address changed in the payroll system, you don’t need to go to the company president (unless you are a pretty small company). This again reduces the time it takes to actually delegate and manage your employees or vendors.
One of the most critical things to remember when delegating is to give the people an understanding of when to stop performing a task. It may seem obvious here too, but giving employees an indicator of when the process is complete or when you can tell that a “good job” is done is a very powerful way to get the results you are looking for. When you mention what a “good job” is in completing a task it’s also an indicator that the person should not stop until a certain condition is met.
With any system – you won’t get it right the first time. NASA tests everything hundreds of times before sending up the space shuttle. You shouldn’t give up the first time your process is “broken.” Improve it based on feedback and it will get better every time you do. Before long – you will be delegating like a pro.
Here’s a very simple printable template to get you started.