I want to make August into National Delegating Month.
Do I have that power? Well, no. But Zirtual founder Maren Kate might. Perhaps she has some hidden magic wand that I don’t know about – that, or a Twitter following of thousands strong to help march out the announcement.
Either way, the calls for task delegation are apparent. Zirtual’s growing, existing clients are finding better ways to use the service (more on that coming in future blogposts), and the Harvard Business Review blog network just published a post asking “Why Aren’t You Delegating?. Does it get much clearer than that?
So delegating is becoming more commonplace. That’s great news. And if you don’t think that’s great news, perhaps the delegating-themed blogposts coming throughout August will help to convince you otherwise. So keep your ears open.
Today, I’m going to follow along with the aforementioned blogpost. Why aren’t you delegating? Seriously, why not? There’s got to be some reasons and I bet I can guess a few.
The first reason you may not choose to delegate responsibilities is that old adage – “if you want something done right, do it yourself.” Fine, fine. Adages are great and all and I could come up with one that says just the opposite. And I’m going so far as to say the adage is wrong. I think delegation is an extension of personal work.
How can I say this? First off, you’re the one delegating. Sure, someone else is doing the work and the responsibility is shifted. But it’s not completely shifted, and it’s not shifted without your say. You’re still the one setting up the task, setting up the time limits and perimeters. In short, it’s your task/idea/need, performed by other hands. How well that task is finished by the workers depends on how well it was presented (of course, not in all cases, but with any good assistant this is the case).
You’re also picking who it goes to. When it goes to them and, if you’d like, when it should be done. You can control more than just the handoff. You can control the blueprint of the completion of said task. That blueprint is your doing, and is shaped by personal ability.
The saying should be “if you want something done right, make sure it gets put in competent hands.”
A second reason is personal drive. Too many people think that delegation may hold them back. That, somehow, it limits personal accomplishment. I hear the echo of “I won’t get anywhere having others do my work for me”. Yikes. The HBR blogpost does a good job of explaining just how “delegation is a critical skill.” It points out that a 2007 study pointed out that 50% of companies studied were worried about their employees delegation skills. It also discusses the problem that Professor Jeffrey Pfeffer calls the “self-enhancement bias”. More, business journals have previously proclaimed that the ability to delegate determine success.
If you’re going to be move up in the working world (and even more if you’re hoping to start your own successful business), you’re going to be the boss of some people. It’s as simple as that. Bosses should be great at delegating; it should be their calling card. You don’t want underused employees, paid to sit around. You don’t want overwhelmed employees, falling asleep at their desks. You want a balance. Proper delegation is a balance as much as it is a critical skill. Practice delegating at earlier stages in your career – any experience with an assistant will quickly teach you about that balance.
It’s so hard to find good help these days. Right? Wrong. There’s an army of skilled labor out there – especially as nationwide unemployment levels have found intelligent minds becoming more creative with their employment. Zirtual has a pool of talent that’d blow the minds of more than a few doubters. But this isn’t a sales pitch. What it is a proclamation that there are thousands of experienced, tech-savvy, customer-friendly workers out there that would love to take your work on.
And it doesn’t have to be a one-shot and it’s done experience. Try a few assistants out. The beauty of the virtual model is that you’re not stuck signing a full-time assistant on with a contract and salary that you can’t deal with within days of starting.
Either way, know that there is talent out there waiting. It’s time to give up on the idea that no one can handle the work you need done. Even the most complicated of people have simple tasks that they could use help with.
Like I said, August is about delegation. You’ll see some interesting blog posts pop up here on the subject. We’ll tackle some more reasons you may be hesitant and some of the beauties that come with a solid delegation relationship.
By the end of the month I hope the question “Why Aren’t You Delegating” won’t even be in the ballpark anymore.