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Using Delegation to Meet Your Goals

We see clients every day who seem to be stuck in a rut. They're overwhelmed at home and at work, and they simply aren't enjoying their lives like they should.

Usually, what most of them need is a little bit of time to reflect on their lives, devise a set of goals and an action plan to accomplish them. When we suggest this, more often than not, their response is "I just don't have time to stop everything and reflect."

The answer, of course, is to make the time. To do that, you need to take a hard look at your to-do list and figure out what absolutely has to be done, what can be tossed altogether, and what can be delegated. This article will discuss the latter, how and what to delegate successfully.

Now, when you hear the word delegation, you may be thinking we're just talking to CEOs. And, while successful, high-level managers are probably masters of delegation, big wigs and business people aren't the only ones who can benefit from delegation. Whether you're a manager of a team of 100 juggling annual reports and conference calls or a stay-at-home mother of two juggling PTA, soccer, and Boy Scouts-or anywhere in between-delegating those jobs that can (and frequently should) be done by others is a great way to return sanity to your schedule.

Most of us are under the mistaken impression that, in order to get a job done well, we, and only we, have to do it. Not only does this give us more credit than we probably deserve, but it deprives those we work with and who work for us the opportunity to grow their own skills.

After all, it isn't management if you do all the work yourself. The key to good management is empowering those who work for you to do their jobs, learn new skills, and, eventually, run the company themselves. Likewise, for parents, your aim is to raise confident, self-sufficient adults who can make good decisions and take care of themselves. You won't accomplish that if you do everything for them.

If you can successfully delegate, not only will you be ensuring that those who work for you are developing much-needed skills-making your whole company stronger-but you open up time in your own schedule to focus on those things that are important to you, whether it's training, team-building, business development, performance reviews, or self-improvement.

One of the keys to successful delegation is assigning appropriate tasks, properly explaining them and their context to your company's larger goals, and frequent check-ins.

What can you delegate? The first step is to write down everything you and your team are responsible for. You can't, and shouldn't, delegate managerial functions, such as performance reviews or confidential personnel matters. But those probably make up a small portion of your responsibilities. Look at those jobs left on the table and determine which of them can be done by others. Recurring jobs, such as monthly sales or activity reports, are particularly good candidates. But, depending on your company's business, there are likely many, many others.

When assigning tasks, be mindful of whether the job you're asking to be done is appropriate to your employee's skill levels. You want to stretch them, but not to the breaking point. This may take some trial and error, and you may find that you've initially over- or underestimated your subordinate's abilities.

Take the time to clearly explain the project, where it fits into your company's big picture, your goals for the project, and what resources are available to complete it.

Whenever possible, don't just assign task completion. Delegate ownership. Empower your subordinate to look at the job with fresh eyes and develop new, more efficient ways of getting it done.

When the task is delegated, schedule follow-up meetings to discuss progress and next steps. If decision-making is involved, ask your subordinate to set out the pros and cons of each alternative and, most important, his or her recommendation.

At the job's completion, your employee will appreciate and deserve an evaluation and, of course, thanks.

Good managers look for opportunities to encourage employees to develop and learn new skills. Not only does delegation offer managers a tool for training top-notch employees, but it can free up your schedule for those things that are most important to you and your company.

About the author
Mike McCurley provides personal, executive, drug and alcohol, and marital enhancement life coaching to clients looking to improve their lives through a rigorous process of self-examination, goal-setting, and accountability. Mike is a Certified Professional Coach, having completed training at the College of Executive Coaching, an International Coaching Federation-accredited institution.

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