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Published on May 29, 2020

Delegating Work: What to Delegate and What Not to?

Delegating Work: What to Delegate and What Not to?

Here’s a fact:

You might have heard a lot about the importance of delegating work. But if you’re a new leader or manager, it won’t be all fun and games.

Like everything in life, delegation isn’t a piece of cake unless done the right way.

You’re highly likely to face a lot of unexpected obstacles. And sadly, there’s no way around them. No circumstances in life are going to go easy on you just because you’re inexperienced.

Luckily, you can tackle these hindrances very easily if you’re smart enough to learn.

Learn from your mistakes, your surroundings, and this post!

Today, you’ll find an answer to one of the most frequently asked questions by new delegators:

What to delegate and what not to?

Believe it or not, this is one crucial step in the process of delegating work. So, read through this article to clarify all your confusion in this regard!

Tasks That You Should Always Delegate

When you’re just getting into delegation, it is quite common to feel like you’re delegating too much work. Inexperienced managers usually feel like they are over-burdening their employees, giving away their own tasks, or asking subordinates to do what’s not their job.

While all these concerns are 100% valid and should always be avoided, they can keep you from delegating the work that has to be distributed among your team.

This defeats the purpose of delegation even if you are well-aware of how to delegate tasks effectively.

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Here are some tasks that you should always delegate. However, reason with yourself according to the environment of your workplace to make the final decision.

1. Repetitive Tasks

Every office has a fair share of a few projects that are recurring and repetitive.

Now, these jobs are either the same every time or even with a slight variation, they require a similar work process and skillset. For example, auditing, budgeting, event planning, etc.

Such tasks have to be done every day, weekly, fortnightly, or monthly. The problem here is that even if these jobs are quick and easy, a manager is wasting time doing them.

You should always delegate projects like these so that you can save up a lot of your precious time in the long run.

Simultaneously, you can train your subordinates to perfection for jobs like these. With regular practice, your subordinates can begin to work on level 5 of delegation, which is where the employees can work independently.[1]

Whether or not you want to categorize annual projects in this category depends on how often the employees in your organization are promoted or replaced. If the same people will be around to do the job for 3 to 4 years at least, it is best to train them for it.

2. Time-Consuming Work

One of the most prominent features of delegation is that it helps save time. So, it is only right if you delegate the work that will take up too much of your time.

Instead of spending a week on one project, you should spend a few hours explaining the work to your subordinates and let them take charge.

This way, not only will you clear your own schedule, but it will also get the job done quicker. Since delegation is all about distributing work among a team, more people can work together on one project simultaneously. This will cut down a huge chunk of the work that goes into it.

What this means is that if there are tasks that are time-consuming but have a short deadline, you must always delegate them. It is an easy and fool-proof method to tick off big projects on your to-do list!

3. Projects That Boost Basic Skills

While delegating work, you shouldn’t forget that as a leader or manager, you also must encourage skills in your subordinates.

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Certain projects are too complicated for people that do not have the skills to do the job. However, some challenges are a healthy way to encourage your team to broaden their skillset.

If you don’t offer opportunities, your team will never grow. And that is a huge failure as a management leader.

4. Whatever Is Beyond Your Job Description

Every person in an organization has a defined job description. These are the duties that the person has to fulfill.

As a leader, you too will have a job description, and you don’t have to do anything beyond it unless there is no one else skilled enough to do it.

Ideally, anything that isn’t a part of your job description should be delegated. This isn’t done with selfish intentions. Instead, it is important to do so, or else you won’t have enough time to fulfill the tasks that are actually a part of your job.

Things that are out of your job description are generally tasks that can be done easily by your team. Even if they face difficulties, you should only offer help and assistance instead of taking on the entire job.

5. Interesting Tasks

Keeping the employees interested in what they do is one difficult job that a manager must do.

To keep the motivation levels high, you should delegate more fun work. Things that your employees will enjoy doing, let them.

So, for example, if you’ve noticed that your team enjoys outdoor tasks, assign them jobs that require work to be done outside your office building. Other interesting tasks include field research, event planning, etc.

6. Work That Your Subordinates Are More Skilled In

Just because you’re leading a group of people does not mean you have all the skills that they don’t have.

There may be something that your subordinates are way better at. For instance, you might not be very tech-oriented, but someone in your team could be.

So, jobs that require skills that someone in your team is better at should always be delegated. Do not take it personally or make it a matter of ego.

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Tasks You Should Never Delegate

Generally, once a manager gets comfortable with delegating work, all the concerns that were previously there vanish.

While that is a good thing, some leaders may begin to ignore those issues completely.

They may over-delegate and assign tasks that aren’t in the job description of the subordinates. Sometimes, managers delegate every single task and they are left behind with so much free time.[2]

To avoid this from happening, you should never delegate the tasks with the following nature. However, the final decision depends on the nature of the exact task and your workplace.

1. Work That Takes Long to Explain

Imagine spending 3 hours explaining something that you could’ve done in 30 minutes yourself.

That defeats the entire essence of delegation, doesn’t it?

So if something needs deep explanation and has a long instruction manual even though the task itself isn’t that elaborate, your best bet is to avoid delegating it. Similarly, if you think you can do a job quicker yourself, do it.

2. Confidential Jobs

Certain matters just cannot be put into the hand of the employees.

High priority and confidential jobs should never be delegated. These tasks are highly important so your expertise should come in handy. Moreover, assigning such jobs to the team can lead to a breach of privacy and other similar issues.

Decision-making tasks such as appraisals, employee hiring, and other similar things also fall in the same category.

3. Crisis-Management

Every organization has to plan for the worst-case scenario. Such decisions are of high importance. You cannot risk letting your team, which is generally less experienced than you, to make these choices.

You should plan and develop for the future of your organization yourself. The subordinates are just not in the position to do these jobs due to the lack of their exposure and level of responsibility.

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4. Boring Tasks

As mentioned previously, you have to keep the employees interested and highly motivated.

Boring tasks can demotivate employees. They take away the enthusiasm which eventually cuts down on the quality of the output produced.

Keep boring tasks to yourself. This is a sacrifice you’ll have to make to keep the morale of your team up.

5. Very Specific Work

This is only applicable to a work which is already broken down into a small task. There is little to no room for creativity, and the instructions are very detailed and exact.

Now, the expectations are to produce an output that is exactly what is being asked for. Since such tasks are too specific, only one person should do it.

If a project like this is delegated, there is a high chance of slight variation in the results caused by individual subordinates. Therefore, the best option is that you do tasks like these on your own.

The Bottom Line

In the end, it is up to you how you weigh each scenario.

There may be exceptions where you’ll have to against the aforementioned suggestions. But, for the most part, these are pretty universal.

So, start your journey of successfully delegating work by using these tips from today!

More Tips for Effective Delegation

Featured photo credit: Alex Kotliarskyi via unsplash.com

Reference

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Leon Ho

Founder & CEO of Lifehack

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Last Updated on July 8, 2020

How to Prevent Decision Fatigue From Clouding Your Judgement

How to Prevent Decision Fatigue From Clouding Your Judgement

What is decision fatigue? Let me explain this with an example:

When determining a court ruling, there are many factors that contribute to their final verdict. You probably assume that the judge’s decision is influenced solely by the nature of the crime committed or the particular laws that were broken. While this is completely valid, there is an even greater influential factor that dictates the judge’s decision: the time of day.

In 2012, a research team from Columbia University[1] examined 1,112 court rulings set in place by a Parole Board Judge over a 10 month period. The judge would have to determine whether the individuals in question would be released from prison on parole, or a change in the parole terms.

While the facts of the case often take precedence in decision making, the judges mental state had an alarming influence on their verdict.

As the day goes on, the chance of a favorable ruling drops:

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    Image source: Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences

    Does the time of day, or the judges level of hunger really contribute that greatly to their decision making? Yes, it does.

    The research went on to show that at the start of the day the likelihood of the judging giving out a favorable ruling was somewhere around 65%.

    But as the morning dragged on, the judge became fatigued and drained from making decision after decision. As more time went on, the odds of receiving a favorable ruling decreased steadily until it was whittled down to zero.

    However, right after their lunch break, the judge would return to the courtroom feeling refreshed and recharged. Energized by their second wind, their leniency skyrockets back up to a whopping 65%. And again, as the day drags on to its finish, the favorable rulings slowly diminish along with the judge’s spirits.

    This is no coincidence. According to the carefully recorded research, this was true for all 1,112 cases. The severity of the crime didn’t matter. Whether it was rape, murder, theft, or embezzlement, the criminal was more likely to get a favorable ruling either early in the morning, or after the judges lunch break.

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    Are You Suffering from Decision Fatigue Too?

    We all suffer from decision fatigue without even realizing it.

    Perhaps you aren’t a judge with the fate of an individual’s life at your disposal, but the daily decisions you make for yourself could hinder you if you’re not in the right head-space.

    Regardless of how energetic you feel (as I imagine it is somehow caffeine induced anyway), you will still experience decision fatigue. Just like every other muscle, your brain gets tired after periods of overuse, pumping out one decision after the next. It needs a chance to rest in order to function at a productive rate.

    The Detrimental Consequences of Decision Fatigue

    When you are in a position such as a Judge, you can’t afford to let your mental state dictate your decision making; but it still does. According to George Lowenstein, an American educator and economy expert, decision fatigue is to blame for poor decision making among members of high office. The disastrous level of failure among these individuals to control their impulses could be directly related to their day to day stresses at work and their private life.

    When you’re just too tired to think, you stop caring. And once you get careless, that’s when you need to worry. Decision fatigue can contribute to a number of issues such as impulse shopping (guilty), poor decision making at work, and poor decision making with after work relationships. You know what I’m talking about. Don’t dip your pen in the company ink.

    How to Make Decision Effectively

    Either alter the time of decision making to when your mind is the most fresh, or limit the number of decisions to be made. Try utilizing the following hacks for more effective decision making.

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    1. Make Your Most Important Decisions within the First 3 Hours

    You want to make decisions at your peak performance, so either first thing in the morning, or right after a break.

    Research has actually shown that you are the most productive for the first 3 hours[2] of your day. Utilize this time! Don’t waste it on trivial decisions such as what to wear, or mindlessly scrolling through social media.

    Instead, use this time to tweak your game plan. What do you want to accomplish? What can you improve? What steps do you need to take to reach these goals?

    2. Form Habits to Reduce Decision Making

    You don’t have to choose all the time.

    Breakfast is the most important meal of the day, but it doesn’t have to be an extravagant spread every morning. Make a habit out of eating a similar or quick breakfast, and cut that step of your morning out of the way. Can’t decide what to wear? Pick the first thing that catches your eye. We both know that after 20 minutes of changing outfits you’ll just go with the first thing anyway.

    Powerful individuals such as Steve Jobs, Barack Obama, and Mark Zuckerberg don’t waste their precious time deciding what to wear. In fact, they have been known to limiting their outfits down to two options in order to reduce their daily decision making.

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    3. Take Frequent Breaks for a Clearer Mind

    You are at your peak of productivity after a break, so to reap the benefits, you need to take lots of breaks! I know, what a sacrifice. If judges make better decisions in the morning and after their lunch break, then so will you.

    The reason for this is because the belly is now full, and the hunger is gone. Roy Baumeister, Florida State University social psychologist[3] had found that low-glucose levels take a negative toll on decision making. By taking a break to replenish your glucose levels, you will be able to focus better and improve your decision making abilities.

    Even if you aren’t hungry, little breaks are still necessary to let your mind refresh, and come back being able to think more clearly.

    Structure your break times. Decide beforehand when you will take breaks, and eat energy sustaining snacks so that your energy level doesn’t drop too low. The time you “lose” during your breaks will be made up in the end, as your productivity will increase after each break.

    So instead of slogging through your day, letting your mind deteriorate and fall victim to the daily abuses of decision making, take a break, eat a snack. Let your mind refresh and reset, and jump-start your productivity throughout the day.

    More Tips About Decision Making

    Featured photo credit: Kelly Sikkema via unsplash.com

    Reference

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