Delegation is an important part of making our work efficient and effective. We aim to grow the company and ourselves every day. As you grow, more and more of your work will become trivial for you, and you will have the capacity to take on challenges that would have previously been too hard for you. Delegation is the art of passing along your trivial work to a team member for whom it represents a stimulating opportunity.
This could be someone in the same department, but who is junior. Or it could be someone who is interested in working in your department, but hasn’t yet. For instance, a PM who wants to learn how to code. If you encounter a simple coding task that they can accomplish, passing it along to them benefits both of you. You free up time to build the skills you are working on and become more senior. They get the chance to tackle a challenge they will enjoy.
Likewise, others in the organization should be on the lookout for what you might like to be doing, and finding opportunities to delegate that work to you. This starts with your manager, but if you are vocal with your team, everyone will be on the lookout for opportunities for you to meet your goals.
Delegation can also be an effective tool for managing overload. If you are effective, work will find its way to your list. If you have more than you can handle in on time, you should push back, or delegate it.
How it Works
We use the Manager Tools delegation model:
The key points are:
- Ask the person you are delegating to you if they would like to take responsibility for the task
- Detail the task completely for them in writing
- Establish how you plan to follow up to ensure that it is being completed successfully
- Manage communication with other project stakeholders to make sure there is a smooth handoff
Their philosophy includes a key metaphor called the Juggling Koan. This is a must listen if you plan to do any serious amount of delegation:
The Juggling Koan (Hall Of Fame Guidance)
Mark recently blogged with our first ever management koan, "What Would An Effective Manager Do?" It was clearly a big hit - we got 45 responses within 2-3 days. Clearly, many of you wanted to know what the answer is, and that's great - the burning desire to get better is at the heart of all good managers.
The core message:
- Your task list is like a box filled with balls of different sizes. The balls fill all the space in your box.
- As you work on a project, the ball representing that project becomes smaller, until it disappears.
- When your box is full but you want to take on more work, you need to either work on current projects, or you can delegate.
- When you delegate, you are handing one of the balls in your box to a teammate.
- If they are junior, the ball will be larger in their box than it was in yours. This is OK. This means they are going to grow by handling the task.
Nice short webinar by our very own Nikki Munson :