By Dr. Layne J. Harpine, LERN Vice President
If you do all your own work and never delegate, you eventually hit a production ceiling. You can only work so many hours in a day and there are only so many tasks you can accomplish in the hours you work. Without delegation, you limit your productivity and the success of your organization. Delegation also helps you make room for new projects and helps you absorb growth in the projects you’re responsible for.
Of course, some things should not be delegated. Things for which you really are the only person with the requisite skill, authority, or connections should not be given to others. Sensitive or potentially conflict-laden work should only be given to others if they are ready and able to handle it. If a task is highly confidential, take care delegating – it’s you who will have to pay the price for a breach of confidentiality.
When should you delegate?
To determine when a task can be delegated, ask yourself a few simple questions:
- Is there anyone else who could do this job as well as me or better, or is it critical that I do it myself?
- Is this a task that will recur in the future? If I don’t have time to do it now, will I have time to do it then?
- If I gave this task to someone else, would it help them increase skill, learning, or opportunity to do something new or gain recognition?
- Do I have enough time to delegate this job in a way that ensures the other persons’ success?
If the person taking the work on is not familiar with the work, it probably will not happen as fast as if you did it yourself or if it was done by another experienced colleague. On the other hand, if this is work that is likely to come along often, an investment now in training and offloading of the task may pay off over the long run.
If the person is doing this work for the first time, how important is it that the work be especially high quality? Who would be affected by a failure? Would a failure impact other important processes or projects?
These key questions and considerations will help you pass along the work… and relax!