Delegation is the key to a balanced schedule. Most of us have simply taken on too many responsibilities, and need to delegate in order to be successful. But how can we delegate effectively? We all have excuses.
I hear over and over again about incompetent husbands, boundary-challenging kids, and unreasonable bosses.
But guess what: you can delegate tasks anyway, husbands, kids, and bosses be darned!
Here are my 4 Keys to Successful Delegation:
If the task being delegated is new, you can provide some teaching. To keep it light, I always preface my teaching with the question: “Do you want to know what I find works best?” This is the time to offer suggestions and hints. It is also the time to bluntly state your expectations. You might explain that breakfast goes more smoothly when you just prepare food and put it on the table instead of asking what the kids want to eat. You can tell your kids that the trash has to be taken out every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday, no matter what.
Once you’ve done the teaching, walk away. Allow the person to learn from her own experiences. Don’t come back a week later and “teach” again. That’s just going to sound like criticism.
Delegating only succeeds when you are willing and able to completely let go of the delegated task.
We’re all guilty of a little “backseat driving” when it comes to delegation. The husband starts loading the dishwasher and we come behind him and reload it. The employee writes a report and we rewrite it under the pretense of “editing.” This communicates a lack of confidence in the person’s ability. Eventually this can demoralize the person to the point that s/he won’t agree to do any task you delegate.
For every wife I’ve heard complain about a lazy husband, I’ve heard a frustrated husband complain about criticism of any task he attempts.
The best way to overcome this tendency is to focus on results, which is my third key.
Focus on the ends, not the means.
Too often, I see people who are focused on the way something is done. I get it, I’m a mom too. I’ve seen my daughter dressed in outfits I wouldn’t have chosen, ever. I’ve seen every single pot in the house used to cook a simple meal. But I choose to focus on the ends. My daughter is happily wearing clean daytime clothing. I am eating a meal I didn’t have to cook. If you truly think that the means matter more than the end, then that task may not be one you should be delegating. Which leads me to my fourth tip.
Delegate tasks you dislike.
If you delegate tasks that you dislike, it’s much easier to follow the steps above. I hate cleaning, so I have no desire to teach, criticize, or worry about how it gets done. If I have a clean house and I didn’t have to clean it, I’m happy.