We go to work, we sit down at our desk, we move a piece of paper or two around, make a phone call, send an email, and (probably) go to a few meetings…

That is a day’s work. From time to time; however, we come up with something that MUST be done, that we can or should NOT do ourselves.

We’re either “too busy” or we don’t have the skill set to take the action that is necessary. In that instance, it is important (and necessary) to delegate the task, action or project to someone else. And, in doing so, you develop two leaders…

(1) You grow as a leader, manager, and promoter of talent, 
(2) they grow as individual contributors.

Here are three things to keep in mind the next time you’re delegating something (or, someone asks you to do something!

1) Perception check: During and after the conversation, I like to ask a perception checking question (or two) to clarify exactly what is being worked on, and what is expected. “So, what I hear you saying is…” or “Is this what you’re expecting?” Taking just a little time on “this side” might go a LONG way in saved time on THAT side!

2) Timeline: When is What due? (Yeah, you might read that sentence again…) Clarify the end result and the due date, if there is one. “As soon as possible…” is not a clear due date. The person who needs it will think it’s going to happen soon…the person doing it will think they have extra time. Consider putting in a “half-way” marker check-in mark. If the project is due at the end of the month, stop around the second or third week to let the stakeholder know where you are, and what (if anything) you might need. (See #3)

3) How/when to ask for assistance: One of the reasons projects “go weird” is that people think they understand what they need to do, only to recognize nearer the due date that they are off…ever so slightly. So, ask, on the front side (see a theme here?!) how to ask for help along the way. Does that manager want to meet face to face? Get an email update? See a wiki or sharepoint update?

We work alone…together. It’s absolutely critical that we know “how” to work, so that we reach the end of the project that everyone anticipated.

How about you? What do YOU do when you delegate work?