When it comes to making sure that everything gets done in your firm, there’s a thin line between delegation and abdication. As a business owner, it’s easy to hear the term “delegation” and develop a feeling of dread in the pit of your stomach.
This is because we usually approach delegation in one of two ways – and neither of them actually results in a task being delegated.
The first approach is to simply not delegate anything to your staff. When you use this approach, your line of reasoning may go something like this, “I really need to get this task done, but don’t want to/don’t have time to do it myself. I’ll hand it off to Mary. Wait a minute… what if she doesn’t do it right/turns it in late/doesn’t do it my way… oh well, I might as well just do it myself.”
The second approach may seem like delegation, but it’s actually something very different. This approach is to identify a task that needs to be done, hand that task off to someone in your office, and simply walk away. This is what a lot of us think of as delegation, but it’s really abdication – and it rarely works.
What’s the difference? Abdication is simply handing off a task to another person, while failing to acknowledge the fact that you are still the one responsible for the ultimate outcome. Delegation, on the other hand, is giving a task to another person, with the responsibility to act on your behalf. This means you realize that, ultimately, you’re still responsible for the final outcome, and this realization can make all the difference.
Here are the steps for actually delegating a task:
- Define precisely what task you want to delegate.
- Make sure your employee understands what you’ve delegated.
- Explain why it needs to be done the way you want it done.
- Spend time teaching how it is to be done.
- Make sure your employee understands what’s expected.
- Set a deadline for the task to be completed, or for a progress report.
- Follow up and check on the employee’s progress.
- Get an agreement on a deadline for completion of the task.
Try it and see: when you actually delegate a task to a well-trained employee, you may be amazed at the results you get!
President & Co-Founder
American Academy of Estate Planning Attorneys, Inc.
6050 Santo Rd., Ste. 240
San Diego, CA 92124