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Last Updated on December 4, 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

More by this author

Leon Ho

Founder & CEO of Lifehack

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Last Updated on March 23, 2021

Manage Your Energy so You Can Manage Your Time

Manage Your Energy so You Can Manage Your Time

One of the greatest ironies of this age is that while various gadgets like smartphones and netbooks allow you to multitask, it seems that you never manage to get things done. You are caught in the busyness trap. There’s just too much work to do in one day that sometimes you end up exhausted with half-finished tasks.

The problem lies in how to keep our energy level high to ensure that you finish at least one of your most important tasks for the day. There’s just not enough hours in a day and it’s not possible to be productive the whole time.

You need more than time management. You need energy management

1. Dispel the idea that you need to be a “morning person” to be productive

How many times have you heard (or read) this advice – wake up early so that you can do all the tasks at hand. There’s nothing wrong with that advice. It’s actually reeks of good common sense – start early, finish early. The thing is that technique alone won’t work with everyone. Especially not with people who are not morning larks.

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I should know because I was once deluded with the idea that I will be more productive if I get out of bed by 6 a.m. Like most of you Lifehackers, I’m always on the lookout for productivity hacks because I have a lot of things in my plate. I’m working full time as an editor for a news agency, while at the same time tending to my side business as a content marketing strategist. I’m also a travel blogger and oh yeah, I forgot, I also have a life.

I read a lot of productivity books and blogs looking for ways to make the most of my 24 hours. Most stories on productivity stress waking up early. So I did – and I was a major failure in that department – both in waking up early and finishing early.

2. Determine your “peak hours”

Energy management begins with looking for your most productive hours in a day. Getting attuned to your body clock won’t happen instantly but there’s a way around it.

Monitor your working habits for one week and list down the time when you managed to do the most work. Take note also of what you feel during those hours – do you feel energized or lethargic? Monitor this and you will find a pattern later on.

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My experiment with being a morning lark proved that ignoring my body clock and just doing it by disciplining myself to wake up before 8 a.m. will push me to be more productive. I thought that by writing blog posts and other reports in the morning that I would be finished by noon and use my lunch break for a quick gym session. That never happened. I was sleepy, distracted and couldn’t write jack before 10 a.m.

In fact that was one experiment that I shouldn’t have tried because I should know better. After all, I’ve been writing for a living for the last 15 years, and I have observed time and again that I write more –and better – in the afternoon and in evenings after supper. I’m a night owl. I might as well, accept it and work around it.

Just recently, I was so fired up by a certain idea that – even if I’m back home tired from work – I took out my netbook, wrote and published a 600-word blog post by 11 p.m. This is a bit extreme and one of my rare outbursts of energy, but it works for me.

3. Block those high-energy hours

Once you have a sense of that high-energy time, you can then mold your schedule so that your other less important tasks will be scheduled either before or after this designated productive time.

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Block them out in your calendar and use the high-energy hours for your high priority tasks – especially those that require more of your mental energy and focus. You also need to use these hours to any task that will bring you closer to you life’s goal.

If you are a morning person, you might want to schedule most business meetings before lunch time as it’s important to keep your mind sharp and focused. But nothing is set in stone. Sometimes you have to sacrifice those productive hours to attend to other personal stuff – like if you or your family members are sick or if you have to attend your son’s graduation.

That said, just remember to keep those productive times on your calendar. You may allow for some exemptions but stick to that schedule as much as possible.

There’s no right or wrong way of using this energy management technique because everything depends on your own personal circumstances. What you need to remember is that you have to accept what works for you – and not what other productivity gurus say you should do.

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Understanding your own body clock is the key to time management. Without it, you end up exhausted chasing a never-ending cycle of tasks and frustrations.

Featured photo credit: Collin Hardy via unsplash.com

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