Steve Jobs once asked the hypothetical question: “If today were the last day of your life, would you want to be doing what you’re doing?” I’d be willing to bet that most people reading this would answer this with a resounding “No”.
If we knew we were going to die tomorrow, we wouldn’t be wasting our time on the Internet or typing away at a cubicle. We’d be on a plane to Italy, or swimming with the dolphins in the Caribbean. Of course, we can’t just up and leave our families and jobs in order to pursue the things in the world we simply want to do. But we do have power over our own destiny.
We can get where we truly want to be if we put in the effort required to experience the amazing things this world has to offer.
1. Choose your own path
So many of us drift through life without really ever making a major decision for ourselves. We do what we think is expected of us by our parents and society in general.
We jump into careers at 21 without being completely sure if it’s what we want to do with the rest of our lives. We get married and have kids because society tells us we should. We sacrifice our hobbies, interests, and time in order to chase money and success. I doubt very many people would want to be at work today if they knew they were going to die tomorrow.
It’s important to blaze your own path, and create your own version of success. Don’t let society or naysayers tell you how to live your life, or that you can’t do something you set out to do. Whatever path you choose, make sure you put your all into it every day of your life, so that when you do reach that final day, you’ll be happy with how you spent it.
2. Picture your ideal life
Now that you understand the importance of living for yourself, you should figure out what it is you really want out of life. You might choose to focus on your career, or you may look forward to having a loving, tight-knit family of your own. Or you might want both.
Do you want the freedom to be able to hop in a plane on Friday and spend the weekend on the beach? Or would you be happier taking your 8-year-old daughter mini-golfing, or watching a movie with your wife?
Don’t settle for anything less than what you would consider perfection. And, again, don’t let anyone else cloud your vision of perfection. What makes you happy makes you happy, regardless of what anyone else thinks.
3. Realize and face your fears
Everyone has their own set of fears that have haunted them throughout their lives. As you get older, your fears start to become more realistic.
A lot of adult fears stem from a person’s relatively small comfort zone. The only way to alleviate these fears is to pinpoint the exact problem, own up to them, and face them with everything you’ve got.
If a fear of public speaking is holding you back from your dream job, seek out classes you could take to practice speaking in a public forum. If you feel out of shape, force yourself to hit the gym. You’ll realize that after you dive into that which had previously held you back, your comfort zone will immediately begin to expand.
4. Start taking steps immediately
Don’t ever think you’re too young or too old to get moving on your dreams. So many people waste their college-age days (myself included) thinking they have all the time in the world to do everything they’ll ever want to do. On the other hand, those who have been stuck in the same dead-end job for years often believe it’s too late to get started on their dream life.
On both ends of the spectrum, these thoughts are a waste of valuable time that could have been spent making the changes needed to live that dream life. Don’t put off til tomorrow what you can do today. After all, one day there won’t be a tomorrow, and you’ll have spent the last day of your life looking ahead to a future that will never come.
All managers and leaders must master the art of delegation. Understanding how and when to allocate responsibility to others is essential in maintaining a high level of productivity, both on a personal and organizational level. Knowing how to delegate is also essential for an effective leadership.
To learn how to delegate is to build a cohesive and effective team who can meet deadlines. Moreover, knowing when and how to delegate work will reduce your workload, thus improving your wellbeing at work and boosting your job satisfaction. Unfortunately, many leaders are unsure how to delegate properly or are hesitant to do so.
In this guide, you will discover what delegation really entails, how it benefits your team, and how to delegate work effectively.
An effective leader knows how to delegate. When you delegate some of your work, you free up your time and achieve more on a daily basis. Effective delegation also promotes productivity within a team by drawing on the existing skill set of its members and allowing them to develop new knowledge and competencies along the way. The result is a more flexible team that can share roles when the need arises.
When you are willing to delegate, you are promoting an atmosphere of confidence and trust. Your actions send a clear signal: as a leader, you trust your subordinates to achieve desired outcomes. As a result, they will come to think of you as a likeable and efficient leader who respects their skills and needs.
Delegation isn’t about barking orders and hoping that your staff falls in line. A manager’s job is to get the very best from those under their supervision and in doing so, maximizing productivity and profit.
Here’s an example of bad delegation:
Careful delegation helps to identify and capitalize on the unique strengths and weaknesses of the team members. Delegation also boosts employees’ engagement as it proves that the managers are interested in drawing on their talents.
The Fear of Delegating Tasks
Delegation boosts productivity, but not all managers are willing or able to delegate. Why? Here’re some common reasons:
They may resent the idea that someone else may get the credit for a project.
They may be willing to delegate in principle but are afraid their team won’t be able to handle an increased degree of responsibility.
They may suspect that their staff is already overworked, and feel reluctant to increase their burden.
They may suspect that it’s simpler and quicker just to do a task themselves.
They dislike the idea of letting go of tasks they enjoy doing.
They fear that if they delegate responsibility, their own manager will conclude that they can’t handle their workload.
Delegation vs Allocation
Most people think that delegation and allocation are synonymous, but there is an important distinction to be made between the two.
When you allocate a task, you are merely instructing a subordinate to carry out a specific action. You tell them what to do, and they do it–it’s that simple. On the other hand, delegation involves transferring some of your own work to another person. They do not just receive a set of instructions. Rather, they are placed in a role that requires that they make decisions and are held accountable for outcomes.
How to Delegate Work Effectively (A Step-By-Step Guide)
So what’s the best way to delegate work so you can fight the fear of delegation, build an efficient team and work faster? Here’s a step-by-step guide:
1. Know When to Delegate
By understanding how much control you need to maintain over a situation, you can determine the best strategy for empowering workers. There are 7 levels of delegation that offer workers different degrees of responsibility.
This brief video explains these levels and offers examples of when it’s appropriate to use each one:
Delegation occurs along a spectrum. The lowest level of delegation happens when you tell other people what to do. It offers little opportunity for employees to try new approaches. The most empowering form of delegation occurs when you are able to give up most of your control over the project to the employee.
Knowing how to delegate work helps you understand how to connect people with tasks that make the best use of their talents. When done properly, it ensures that you will get the best end-result.
When you’re deciding how to delegate work, ask the following questions:
Do you have to be in charge of this task, or can someone else pull it off?
Does this require your attention to be successful?
Will this work help an employee develop their skills?
Do you have time to teach someone how to do this job?
Do you expect tasks of this nature to recur in the future?
2. Identify the Best Person for the Job
You have to pass the torch to the right team member for delegation to work. Your goal is to create a situation in which you, your company, and the employee have a positive experience.
Think about team members’ skills, willingness to learn, and their working styles and interests. They’ll be able to carry out the work more effectively if they’re capable, coachable, and interested. When possible, give an employee a chance to play to their strengths.
Inexperienced workers may need more guidance than seasoned veterans. If you don’t have the time to set the newer employee up for success, it’s not fair to delegate to them.
You also have to consider how busy your employees are. The last thing you want to do is overwhelm someone by giving them too many responsibilities.
3. Tell and Sell to Get the Member Buy-In
After you’ve found the perfect person for the job, you still have to get them to take on the new responsibility. Let them know why you chose them for the job.  When you show others that you support their growth, it builds a culture of trust. Employees who see delegated tasks as opportunities are more likely to be invested in the outcome.
When you’re working with newer employees, express your willingness to provide ongoing support and feedback. For seasoned employees, take their thoughts and experiences into account.
4. Be Clear and Specific About the Work
It’s critical to explain to employees why the project is necessary, what you expect of them, and when it’s due. If they know what you expect, they’ll be more likely to deliver.
By setting clear expectations, you help them plan how to carry out the task. Set up project milestones so that you can check progress without micromanaging. If your employee has trouble meeting a milestone, they still have time to course correct before the final product is due.
This type of accountability is commonly used in universities. If students only know the due date and basic requirements for completing major research papers, they might put off the work until the eleventh hour. Many programs require students to meet with advisers weekly to get guidance, address structure, and work out kinks in their methods in advance of deadlines. These measures set students up to succeed while giving them the space to produce great work.
5. Support Your Employees
To see the best possible outcomes of delegating, your subordinates need resources and support from you. Connect them with training and materials to develop skillsets they don’t already have. It may take more time up front to make resources available, but you’ll save time by having the work done correctly. For recurring tasks, this training pays off repeatedly.
Sometimes employees need a help to see what they’re doing well and how they can improve. Giving and receiving feedback is an essential part of delegation. This is also a good way to monitor the delegated tasks as a leader. While you can keep track of the progress of the tasks, you are not micro-managing the employees.
Throughout the project, periodically ask your employees if they need support or clarification. Make it clear that you trust them to do the work, and you want to create a space for them to ask questions and offer feedback. This feedback will help you refine the way you delegate work.
6. Show Your Appreciation
During periodic check-ins, recognize any wins that you’ve seen on the project so far. Acknowledge that your employees are making progress toward the objective. The Progress Principle lays out how important it is to celebrate small wins to keep employees motivated. Workers will be more effective and dedicated if they know that you notice their efforts.
Recognizing employees when they do well helps them understand the quality of work you expect. It makes them more likely to want to work with you again on future projects.
Now that you know exactly what delegation means and the techniques to delegate work efficiently, you are in a great position to streamline your tasks and drive productivity in your team.
To delegate is to grant autonomy and authority to someone else, thus lightening your own workload and building a well-rounded, well-utilized team.
Delegation might seem complicated or scary, but it gets much easier with time. Start small by delegating a couple of decisions to members of your team over the next week or two.