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delegate, delegation, delegating

You Can Do It, But You Can’t Do It All

You can’t do it all.  You may want to.  You may think you have to.  You may feel that there’s no one capable of doing it all as well as you can.  You may be right.  However, you may also find yourself burned out, overworked, stressed, and burdened with mundane tasks keeping you from doing the interesting ones.  Don’t worry; delegating can help.  Delegating is your friend.  Effective delegation is an excellent mechanism for completing the work you already have and for efficiently managing future tasks.

There are many reasons for which this may be a consideration.  Perhaps you’re a group manager whose primary responsibilities within the company include personnel management and case assignment; essentially, delegation as a core job function.  Alternately, if you’re closer to entry-level, delegation to you may mean load levelling with other similarly-experienced coworkers or providing instruction to vendors and subcontractors.  Appropriately for the purposes of this article, I’m somewhere in between:  a mid-level project manager responsible for delegating tasks and roles for my own projects, while also having certain items passed on to me.

As a project manager, I’ve found that a key component to effective delegation is to set clear and reasonable expectations.  Achieving success is much easier with all involved working towards a clearly-defined goal.  This can be accomplished in several ways, as dictated by your particular style:  some will prefer to take a hands-off approach, set an end-product goal, and let their coworkers chart their own course from A to B, whereas others will prefer to dictate milestones or step-by-step instructions to the finish.  The most-appropriate approach can also be determined based on the skillset of the coworker to whom you’re delegating; if that individual has a personality which craves explicit direction, you may be best served to provide instruction in that manner to ensure the successful completion of the project, regardless of your own preferred style.

Getting acquainted with the way in which others work – and prefer to be dictated work – is just one of the many things which can be improved-upon with repetition.  In general, the more you delegate, the easier it will be to do so again in the future.  Getting others acquainted with your projects/tasks/responsibilities will enable them a level of comfort with those projects/tasks/responsibilities.  Therefore, the next time you’re in a time-crunch for a project deliverable, you’ll already have someone up to speed, ready to work immediately on the task at-hand without any ramp-up time.  If you need another example of the benefits of this approach, consider who is going to fulfill your job functions while you’re away on that relaxing, work-free vacation…

Another impetus for delegating certain tasks to others is to make the most of the inherent abilities of your coworkers.  Certain people simply excel at certain tasks and not at others.  Delegating portions of a project on the basis of specialization is simply good project management.  Another important consideration is maximizing your own abilities; delegating is also a key step in advancement.  In most industries, advancement will involve some degree of management:  management of projects, management of processes, and management of people.  An old adage of interviewing is “dress for the job you want…”; in a way, effective delegation can be working towards the job you want.

If you’re still in need of another example of the power of delegation, take this article; it was delegated to me.

Adam Haydt is a Project Manager with a world-wide environmental consulting firm.  In his downtime, he likes to play soccer, basketball and write guest posts for his wife’s blog. 


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