Delegating effectively is a tricky concept! If you delegate in too much detail you run the risk of annoying the person you’ve delegated to AND spending more time than necessary. Yet, if you don’t share enough detail you run the risk of the end product not being what you want.

Recently a client (we’ll call her Lexi) shared her delegating challenge with me during our session. However, she didn’t realize it was a delegating challenge . . . in fact, she thought is was a personnel challenge. Listen in to our conversation.

Lexi – Lisa, I want to ask you something. Have you ever needed to fire someone?

Me – Yes. Why do you ask?

Lexi – I think I need to fire my web designer, and it’s making me sick to my stomach.

Me – Wow! I know you really like her as a person, no wonder you are sick to your stomach. What’s going on that you think you need to fire her?

Lexi – She just isn’t able to do the things I need her to do on my website.

Me – Really?! I know about a month ago you were thrilled with her work. What have you added to your website that she isn’t able to do?

Lexi – Well, I guess I haven’t really added anything. It’s just that when I ask her to do something, she has 10 questions. I just want her to DO it – and not ask so many questions. I spend so much time emailing back and forth that I could have just done it myself.

Me – Ahhh, it sounds like a communication and delegation problem to me . . . not a technical expertise problem.

Have you ever found yourself in this situation? Frustrated because when you delegate it just takes sooooooo much time!

As Lexi and I discussed her challenge, we talked about the Five Levels of Delegation. Lexi wanted to delegate at a Level 5 Here’s the “big picture” of what I want done. I trust you, do what you need to do to accomplish the goal. Her web designer felt more comfortable at a Level 1Here are all the options, here’s exactly how I want you to do it, don’t deviate.

No wonder there was frustration on my client’s end . . . and probably the web designer’s end also! Lexi wanted the project DONE; the web designer needed details.

So, what’s the solution?

  1. Direct Communication:  Lexi and her web designer had a conversation, and both were able to explain their level of comfort with the project and the delegation process.
  2. Project Worksheet:  Since many of the tasks Lexi asks her web designer to complete are similar, they developed a checklist of all the steps, the expectations, and who was to complete each step. Lexi made sure her web designer had all the details she needed to be successful. (Download my Project Worksheet to help you with this process.)
  3. Evaluation:  After a couple of these projects, Lexi and her web designer had another conversation about how both felt the project was going. They made some adjustments to the process until both were comfortable.

Will it always work out this way?  Absolutely not!  Some people are never comfortable working at a Level 5 delegation while others are never comfortable delegating above a Level 1.

Lesson learned: effective communication at the START of a project leads to mutual understanding and success. When all parties involved have their eye on the same target and have an agreed level of communication, then delegation is at its best!

And to help you understand your “target” and the tasks along the way, I’ve created the SystemSavvy Consulting Project Worksheet. This worksheet helps you identify all those “moving parts” so you know exactly what needs to be done, when, and by whom.