to-do-list-lrgI’m the first to admit that I was pretty terrible at delegation.  In fact, you could say I had become a master at doing everything myself (well, it sure felt that way!).   The problem with this approach is that it is very easy to become overloaded and let the stress overwhelm you. The best part about delegating is the freedom that it provides you to do the things you really want to, so how can you make that happen?

When I started at BRS, I think it became pretty clear to everyone in the team that I wasn’t so great at saying no.  I took on every and any task and wasn’t very good at sharing any back.  There were a couple of reasons for this, one being that in past roles I’d been in I didn’t have anyone to delegate to (or felt I didn’t) and I also suffered from what I like to call the guilt syndrome.  The thought of asking someone to do something work or personal wise, or even saying no made my stomach flip and I’d become wrecked with guilt at letting them down.  No one had ever responded negatively to me asking them to do something, I just really didn’t want to give them the opportunity to!

My first attempt was a bit of a disaster.  I would complete a task to 90%, delegate the last 10%, then do a final review – in essence re-doing the last 10%.

So it was with a coaching session or 2 and some lessons in asking for some help, I began my journey of letting go.  I was fortunate at BRS to be in a company that encouraged us to follow our passions, and for me to be able to work on the things that I loved to, I had no choice but to learn to delegate.

Some of the strategies and tips that helped me were:

  1. Write your to do list.  Now, look at each item on it again and work out which can be done by someone else. At first, it may help to have a manager or colleague look at your list with you as an independent voice will cut out your need to be nice.
  2. Consider your charge out rate – if you can outsource or delegate a task you don’t want to do to someone else – whether that be a person in your team or another company/freelancer for less than your charge out rate – hand it over
  3. Practice saying no and question the priority – constructively!  If someone runs to your desk asking you to do something that you don’t have the capacity to do – ask them what the priority of it is as you are working on some other urgent tasks, and offer a suggestion of where they can find the information they need or who else may be able to assist.
  4. Chances are, the first few times you delegate will take longer to ask someone else to do than doing the task yourself. This is a necessary pain, but by persevering, after the initial “training period” you will find yourself free of the task and you can watch those extra free minutes stack up to time that you can spend elsewhere.
  5. Remember the “why” – not just the “what” and the “how”.  Successful delegation involves taking the time to explain why you are asking someone to do something and why it is important in the company/project. Your tasks are more willing to get done if you communicate the why!

By delegating to others you are also empowering them and allowing them the opportunity to skill up. It frees you up to take on more exciting challenges and spend the time on the areas that you add the most value to, and gives others career advancement opportunities as well.