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Master Delegation: Let Go and Trust Other People

2011 May 8

Delegation is one of the most powerful tools for effective time management, and it’s also the most psychologically loaded. Relying on others can bring up deep-seated issues of dependency and trust.

delegatingMany people, from managers at work to adults at home with a family, often fall into the trap of ‘doing everything.’  You may think that you can do the task better, or faster, than anyone else can. Or you may simply not want to impose on anyone by asking for help. You may even do everything yourself because you feel guilty if you’re not busy all the time!

With this type of thinking, not only are you at risk of burnout, but you’re not working efficiently or living your life to the fullest.

Do any of these excuses sound familiar to you?

  • I can do it better myself.
  • No one else will do it right.
  • I’m the only one qualified to do it.
  • Everyone else already has enough to do.
  • It’s faster to just do it myself.
  • I’ll be embarrassed if they do it better than me.
  • What if they say no?

Believe it or not, there are people out there who can do certain things better than you, faster than you and may even ENJOY doing them more than you do.

This is where learning to delegate comes in. When handled correctly, delegation not only frees you to make the most of your unique talents, it allows others to learn and grow while making a contribution. In fact, it is quite liberating once you really do let go and put your trust in other people.

“People rise and fall to meet your level of expectations for them. If you express skepticism and doubt in others, they will return your lack of confidence with mediocrity. But if you believe in them and expect them to do well, they will go the extra mile trying to do their best.” ~ John C. Maxwell, Author and Speaker

While it is a skill that anyone can learn, there is much more to delegating than simply handing out assignments. It is a science and an exercise in understanding one’s self.

Tips for Successful Delegation

  • Be as specific as possible about what you want done. It’s no good delegating a task to someone and then complaining because they haven’t done what you wanted them to do. You have to be very clear about what you need done and how you want it done if the delegation is ever going to be successful – or repeated.
  • Let the other person get on with it. You have to accept that when you delegate something, it’s literally out of your hands and you need to avoid interfering with the process or micromanaging. As hard as it is, wait for the end product before you judge how successful the delegation has been.
  • Avoid delegating many tasks at once. If you are new to delegating, or if the very idea of delegation makes you uncomfortable, you should start by delegating only one task or project at a time. Your delegation skills and comfort level will build over time as you see each job you’ve assigned completed successfully.
  • Teach people to be problem solvers. When someone comes to you for help, resist the temptation to dive into the task as if were yours. Instead, point out possible solutions by offering advice and suggestions. Point out what the issues appear to be, and ask for ideas on addressing them, but make it clear you consider the task to still be their responsibility to complete.
  • Don’t expect perfection.Learning how to delegate responsibility can take a lot of practice and patience, no matter what task you’re delegating. While it’s important to clearly establish a standard of quality and a reasonable time frame for achieving it, avoid falling into the self-defeating trap of expecting perfection.
  • Reward the effort.Recognition for a job well done encourages similar future efforts. So if the person to whom you delegated responsibility does a fine job, let them know. Also, if the end result isn’t ideal but they put a lot of time and hard work into the task, let him or her know you appreciate the effort.

If we want both our businesses and our personal lives to thrive, delegation is a skill we have to master. When you allow yourself to ask for help it is actually a sign of strength and a sign that you’re willing to allow others to be of value.

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You may also be interested in this article: It’s Called Delegation for a Reason: Give Up Control to Get Control


22 Responses
  1. August 13, 2011

    Hi Marty,

    Letting go of any tasks seems to be a struggle for business owners and even some managers. Delegation is a great tool if used correctly. One of my own mantra’s is to delegate for success and not for failure which is something you often see in corporates.

    Nik recently posted..BBC News – Further TJ Hughes store closures confirmedMy Profile

    • August 14, 2011

      Thanks for stopping by and taking the time to share your thoughts Nik. Hope you’re having a great weekend!

  2. Hans Schoff permalink
    June 7, 2011

    Hey Marty, great post and very true. Delegation can be huge to simplify one’s life, to free up time, mental energy and help you get ahead as it gives you your time and energy back to focus on more important things. There’s a reason why you don’t see people like Donald Trump or Richard Branson mowing their own lawn, washing their dishes or helping their friends move. There’s nothing wrong with any of those things if you enjoy them and find value in them, but if you’re looking to get ahead, delegate those low-outcome activities to someone else so you can focus your time on more productive activities that will produce great rewards!
    Hans Schoff recently posted..Why You Need A System For Creating WealthMy Profile

  3. May 22, 2011

    What I hate about delegation sometimes is that other people don’t have the same mindset as I have for the work. Not enough dedication and they’ll just do whatever you tell them to do and nothing more than that. Then when you tell them about it, they will just say yes but their actions show otherwise. *sigh Don’t get me wrong, Marty. Delegation is very important but its really hard most of the time. :(

    • May 23, 2011

      I completely understand Calli – I’ve been there to and I will be the first to admit when it comes to important projects I often hold back a bit of the critical stuff to make sure I’m not left out on a limb. I guess the best thing is to just try and make sure we’re investing the time we’re saving by doing something that will really help to move our business along. Thanks so much for your thoughtful comment!

  4. john guapo permalink
    May 18, 2011

    Thank you for this great piece of content. Best Regards

  5. Theuns
    May 11, 2011

    Hi Marty

    This is a good post, thx.

    You make a good point about Delegation.

    I does not make you a lazy person, but
    it make you stand out as a leader and
    people look up to you if they see that you
    can Delegation task to make the job faster
    and also helping other people in the proses.

    Theuns recently posted..The Subconscious Mind- The Subconscious Mind and the BIOS of a ComputerMy Profile

  6. May 11, 2011

    That is one of the hardest things to do as an entrepreneur. We are so used to being resourceful, and doing everything ourself that we have trouble letting go of our baby. I am working on some things right now to help my business with that. It is challenging to not jump in all the time.

  7. May 10, 2011

    It’s interesting that you gave this the title you did. Who would ever think that doing something myself is a trust issue? Certainly not someone like me who NEEDS to see it that way! I know I have trust issues, but don’t always see when the issue is manifesting itself.

    My children need me to teach them certain skills so that they’ll be able to stand firm and independent when they leave home.

    My team members downline from me need to learn to do things for themselves.

    And I need to turn to my upline for help now and again.

    No matter what area we are talking about, NONE of us can do it all alone!

    Willena Flewelling
    Willena Flewelling recently posted..I Control My ThoughtsMy Profile

  8. May 10, 2011

    Great post, Marty! You are so right about the importance of delegation. It reminds me of a quote from J.P. Morgan that my primary often reminds us of, “It is better to receive 1% of the rewards of 100 people than 100% of the rewards of only your own.” This is why it is so vital to realize that if we try to do everything ourselves, we are limited by our own time; if we delegate, we are able to free up more of our own time.

  9. May 10, 2011

    This is certainly something I can identify with… my usual excuse is it’s quicker to do it myself that explian to someone else how to do some thing! I’m getting a lot better … short videos are helping me leverage my time in this way too. I make a short how to videos for all sorts of things in my business and for my customers too. So as I do tasks I often record them for the future when I may need to delegate in a hurry! Thanks for sharing :o)

  10. Yasser Khan permalink
    May 10, 2011

    Hi Marty,

    Part of the problem is people, especially entrepreneurs, tend to manage by abdication, rather than responsibly. They run after handing over to someone else, and then later on reinforce the same belief that they can do it better than others, when their trust breaks.

    The crucial thing they’ve neglected is that they had to create a system first for people to find their places in, then let then run that system.

    Great reading your post.

    Yasser Khan recently posted..Don’t Believe A Word You Read In This PostMy Profile

  11. May 10, 2011

    This couldn’t have come at a better time for me! Delegation is something I was struggling with this very week. I wear many hats and had to let go of the “no one could do this like me” syndrome!
    I thought it would be difficult to explain to someone else of all the how to’s. I realized it was just ME that was the problem.
    I was burning out and when that happens, nothing gets done. I know deep inside I needed to delegate some work. I started with hiring one person. By the end of the week, Nothing blew up, nothing bad happened. I had more time to do something else. What a learning curve for a control freak like me.
    Thanks for posting this. It is like you read my mind.

  12. May 9, 2011

    The most brilliant leaders of this world are the ones who “help” others to achieve something. Who help, through delegation, teach others the process by which they’ve come to achieve so much success through their work. I often think of Christ, who was someone who taught by example, and then helped his disciples to learn for themselves as well.

    A great post.
    Christian Hollingsworth recently posted..Spring Cleaning For Your BlogMy Profile

  13. May 9, 2011

    Thanks for this great post on delegation Marty,

    This issue has been difficult for me. It’s not a problem that I have with micromanaging, my tendency is to just do everything myself and not think to delegate. I like that you pointed out the importance of being specific and helping the other person solve the problems on their own. Without this focus on independence, any delegation will break down into micromanaging or as Stephen Covey puts it, gopher delegation instead of stewardship delegation.
    Paul Reimers recently posted..Blog Comments and SEO – Are You Rewarding Your CommentorsMy Profile

  14. May 9, 2011

    Hi Marty,

    You have said it so well ! I will have to definitely agree with you about delegation.

    Just wonder how people could live with doing all things by themselves and never try to let go some responsibilities to others. Actually, there are many who just can’t let go of things not because they don’t trust others but they enjoy doing something to satisfy themselves. Again, how much can they do just to stay satisfied ?

    Marty, you have mentioned the great tips to help people to have successful delegation. I thank you for this. I have known many leaders who are successful, they are actually very good to delegate.

    Keep coming with such great post and glad I also pick up new ideas from you, Marty :-)

    Pearly Quah recently posted..The Relationship BuilderMy Profile

    • May 9, 2011

      Thanks for your comment Pearly. I think most of us get why delegation is a good thing, but it can be tough trusting people some times. I just think we need to take it one day at a time and give people the opportunity to learn and grow along with us. Aloha!

  15. May 9, 2011

    Marguita you have made some very nice points in this post.

    A lot of people tend to be to close to a project or endeavor and it’s just hard to trust outcomes to others.

    I would have to say one of my hang ups is I feel it will get done faster if I just do it. Well all those just do its can take me away from the major vision if I’m not careful.

    By the way what twitter plug in is that with the little bird that is so cool.

    Steve Shoemaker recently posted..Mindset Article Of The Week Channel Your Inner MillionaireMy Profile

    • May 9, 2011

      Thanks for your comment Steve. Wish I could say I’ve personally “mastered delegation” but I am working on it. Glad you like the little bird!

  16. Adrian Campbell permalink
    May 9, 2011

    Letting it going and just trusting people to get work done is a tough thing to do. I have struggled with this myself for a long time. Good article on how to start trusting people and “passing the buck” to someone else to get things done as they should be.

  17. May 9, 2011

    What…you mean there are people who can do it better than I can?! ;)

    Oh, delegating. As a lifelong perfectionist, this one has been tough for me. There are certain times where I resist it and certain times where I cannot do anything but surrender and trust! Like now for example ~ I’m due with my second child in 2 months, and this pregnancy has been HARD. Add to that we’ve moved across the country and just bought our first house (yeah!), and I am the kind of person that loves organizing and settling in to a new home and getting things just the way I like them. Well, my back has other plans, so I’ve had to let go and be grateful for all the family we have around now who are going above and beyond to help. Is it the way I’d do it? Nope! But it works and I was able to honor my personal needs in the process.

    Everyone worked hard to check in and do their best to create my vision, and from there, I just had to let them get on with it, know that it would not be “perfect” and definitely showed my love and appreciation for it all!

    So I can really relate to this right now, great advice for life and business both, absolutely! Thanks Marquita! :)
    Beth Allen recently posted..5 Keys to Establishing &amp Cultivating Quality Business RelationshipsMy Profile

    • May 9, 2011

      Thanks so much for taking the time to share Beth. I so wish I could say I’ve mastered this skill myself, but I’m working on it. Take good care of yourself!

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