If you are in a position of authority, or even if you’re a parent, chances are you need to delegate tasks to others. If you are too vague when you delegate, you cause your staff to be unsure of what to do, how to do it and when to do it. If they lack adequate direction and clear objectives, you’ll find yourself dealing with frequent interruptions during which you answer their questions and give clarifications—a waste of time and effort. The factors that must be present for effective delegating are:
When communication is clear and your staff succeeds, everyone benefits.
When delegating, it is crucial that you be specific. Define the project, the purpose of the project, its importance, any deadlines involved and the scope of the staff’s responsibility and authority in the project. The clearer and more detailed the information you provide, the better the result you can expect.
Suppose you’re planning a client appreciation dinner, and you want to have fresh, locally grown flowers on each dining table. If you say to your assistant, “Get me some information on flowers,” she may get back to you in four days with 20 pages of information on how to grow 50 different types of flowers. Although she spent valuable time and effort on this assignment, the information isn’t helpful in planning your event, is it? Your unclear communication just wasted a whole lot of company time, and you’re no closer to having the information you wanted.
Now suppose you said, “I’d like you to find three types of locally grown flowers that can be delivered for our client appreciation dinner on May 7. It’s very important that this part of the event be right, as we are inviting our top clients. I’ll need six centerpieces, and the budget is $300. Order two arrangements of each type of flower if it fits into the $300 budget, and let me know by the end of the day tomorrow where we stand.” Your assistant now has specific guidelines and can more effectively complete her task, reducing the likelihood of doing the wrong work, wasting time coming to you with questions or asking for clarification.
Your assistant knew the purpose of the assignment (flowers for the client appreciation dinner on May 7), she knew its importance (you said it was a very important part of the event), she knew the specific parameters involved (locally grown, three different types, six tables, $300 budget), she knew the deadline (report back the status by the end of tomorrow), and she knew she had the authority to order the flowers provided that the cost fit into the $300 budget.
By being clear and specific up front, you gave her everything she needed to successfully complete the assignment the first time. The result was a double win because you got the task handled effectively, and she got the opportunity to succeed. When communication is clear and your staff succeeds, everyone benefits.
Monica Ricci has been an organizing and productivity specialist since 1998. She offers onsite consulting, as well as motivational speaking and workshops. She has been featured on HGTV's Mission: Organization and is the author of Organize Your Office in No Time. Sign up for her monthly organizing tips at www.CatalystOrganizing.com or contact her at 770-569-2642.