Some people work extremely hard with little success. Others make great things happen seemingly without effort. What is their secret? They leave things to others. They delegate. That sounds very simple but … it’s not. Talent can help.
Take the example of Barbara, principal of five private schools in Uganda that employ about 250 teachers. Her regular schedule was to work 18 hours a day, six days a week.
She wanted to change this and have time for her own children. But how? Up to now, delegation had not worked. Why not? Because, she wanted others to do the work her way. And she had not yet found that perfect copy of herself …
Discovering her own talent ‘Mother’ was an eye-opener in itself. But she discovered more! Namely, that others also have talent and do things in their own way. Even more so, that others are more effective when they work ‘in their own way’ than when they try to copy her.
It may seem obvious, but this realisation had a huge impact. She started to gain faith in the talent and practices of others, and this suddenly made delegation a lot easier. Within a couple of months, she was working only ten hours a day and had she been on holiday for a week with her husband. That had not happened in years. “And do you know what?” she said, “I’m even working more effectively.”
Delegation is often difficult, but you can make it easier for yourself. There are two principles to make it work.
- Make a clear agreement on WHAT the result of the delegated task should be and WHEN it should be done.
- Give the other person the freedom in HOW they do the task, knowing that another person’s talent implies another method.
How hard can it be? But if you’re honest with yourself, how easy is it for you to leave something to someone else? And to leave 100% of the job to that person? Especially when they may do it differently? Challenge yourself. Practice at home too.
- Make a list of the top five energy draining jobs. Tasks that you postpone or that take more energy and time than you would like.
- Ask yourself who the right person could be to do each task.
- Choose one task and hand it over to someone else, using the ‘what-when’ agreement above.
- Enjoy the extra time delegating the task gives you.
Is there no task in your top five that you can delegate? Alarm bells should then ring and, in your own best interest, be critical and ask yourself why they are ringing.