There are several reasons to delegate. But before delegating it’s important to make sure that the work needs to be done. Before doing any kind of work, it can be good to ask a few quick questions.

Photo credit: via / CC BY

Photo credit: via / CC BY

Early in my career, I was part of a leadership team responsible for a large department of several hundred employees. Each leader was responsible for various aspects of leading the department.

We  brought various reports with us to a weekly leadership meeting with all department leaders. One report was a legacy report traditionally delegated to various staff on our teams to create. Being new to the team I had a license to ask the “silly” question “why are we producing this report?” After some initial justification, it was eventually determined that the report served no real purpose to help us lead and make decisions for the department. The report was never created again saving countless wasted hours.

What are some questions you can ask before delegating work?

1. Why complete the work in the first place? What result does the work produce and is that result something that will be used? In the legacy report example, this question saved a lot of unnecessary future work. Don’t accept responses like; “We have always done this work.”, “At one time there was a need.”, “I don’t know why.”.

“I delegate everything so that I can spend time doing what I am gifted at doing.”
– Mark Victor Hanson
(author “Chicken Soup for the Soul”)

2. Should someone else do the work? If you are already doing the work, is it better for someone else to do it who has more skill than you or it is part of someone else’s job description? Could someone else do the work? Who are you developing? Does it help someone else to grow a skill they need?

3. Should you just do it? If it is not in better hands with someone else, don’t delegate if for delegation sake, keep it. If it is part of your job description, keep it. If you have a fiduciary obligation (signing payroll), keep it. If the task is yours, keep it.

Our busy lives can cause us to take quick action, especially when delegating tasks. Asking the few simple questions outlined above can give confidence that work should or shouldn’t be delegated. In the next post, I will outline four phases of delegation.

What was the last thing you delegated?
Did you ask questions like those above to determine if the work should be delegated?

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The New Leaders Guide to Delegation and Accountability

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