The Key to Delegating to Get Results You Want

“The best executive is the one who has sense enough to pick good people to do what he wants done, and self-restraint enough to keep from meddling with them while they do it.”

–Theodore Roosevelt

The most successful people have a talented team supporting them. Think of any entrepreneur who is growing their business, making a healthy profit, and has any sort of balance outside of work. That individual has at least one person assisting them.

We are all told to delegate, but most people fail in this area. It may not be a miserable, walls come crashing down sort of fail, but a fail none the less. Maybe the items you delegated are not coming back the way you want them so you end up spending time revising work you thought you got rid of. Perhaps the person who is supposed to be helping you doesn’t get things done as quickly as you would like or to the level you hoped.

All common challenges with busy professionals, and all fixable. Assuming the person is qualified to do the work, one of the top missteps people make when delegating work to someone is in the request.

Make me a sandwich…
For instance, if you were to tell someone to make a sandwich, how many end results could you have?! PB&J on white bread, turkey and swiss with lettuce and tomato on a french roll, tuna salad with pickles on rye … this list could go on and on. If you really don’t care what sort of sandwich you get, there is no problem with this, but if you hate mustard or have a vision of what you want the end result to be, you must communicate that.

I have seen clients ask a virtual assistant to create a template for their email newsletters. They say something like “use green and blue, and make it look clean”. More often than not, a person who makes this request really does have an idea in their mind of how the template should look, and when the template comes back different than that idea, they get frustrated.

So how can you fix this?
Be specific in describing your desired outcome.
The same client could have said:

  • Match the blue and green tones that are one my website.
  • Here are two examples of email templates that look “clean” to me – I like the curved edges and the two column formats. I also like that there is an image for each section and article.
  • Here is an example of what I do not like and here are the reasons why…”

Next time you delegate, take a few minutes to prepare and then follow these 5 steps.

  • Communicate your desired outcome as clearly as possible
  • Give specific instructions, details, examples or resources the person needs to succeed
  • Check for understanding from the other person and/or allow her to ask clarifying questions
  • If time is an issues, provide your requested due date or ask how much time the person thinks it will take to complete the project
  • If possible, start with small projects and give feedback so that you become more comfortable communicating clearly and your support person gets accustomed to your style and requests.

Follow those five steps and chances are the added detail in your request will save you from frustration and revisions in the future. Delegating gets easier with practice, and can become quite effortless and fun!