So, we're slowly getting back into the swing of things: it’s very much business as usual as the ‘new normal’ beds in.
And while this is all great, we must also always remember not to become complacent. As we approach the end of another year of ups and downs, there has never been a better time to get those back-burner projects underway - no excuses!
The challenge is how best to launch something that has been brewing in the back of your mind; you don’t want to suffer from a problem that I call the ‘stop-start syndrome’ where – even with the very best of intentions – things never quite get off the ground.
The art of delegation (or a severe lack of it) is the problem
I think that, even at the best times, effective delegation is a tricky skill to master in a sector of perfectionist control freaks (I say this with love of course!). Although we try very hard to remember that other people have good ideas, many of us tend to believe that our way is the only right way.
The challenge is very real, but the three-step solution is so simple.
Ultimately, teamwork and true collaboration are the keys to a business’s success, which is why it's essential to have a robust and scalable process in place for delegation and just getting stuff done.
1. Start with this list
- If the required task needs to be completed by someone else, it's vital that the handover process is effective. A misunderstood task could result in catastrophic outcomes. Be clear about what's expected and make sure that the person undertaking the task has all the information they need from the outset.
- Adequate time should be allocated to handing over key tasks. Notes should be taken to make sure the instructions and details are clear, and can be easily recalled at a later point.
- Be clear on both the absolute and desired outcomes. Ambiguity doesn’t help anyone!
- During the handover meeting (which should be scheduled into all diaries), both parties should be clear about the work involved and the time allocated to complete it. Any potential issues should be raised, discussed and resolved at this point.
- Agree check-in points. It’s no good discussing what needs to be done at the start, but then not again until the end. You don’t want anyone to go off-track and waste time. Work-in-progress meetings are recommended throughout the task.
- Once the action points have been agreed, these tasks should be incorporated into the master ‘to do’ list (see below), task planner or project planner.
2. Don't forget the 'D' word
There's one word that's very important here and that's: deadline. The primary deadline rule is that no task should be delegated or requested without a deadline attached. We are all really busy, we all have more stuff on our lists than we have hours in the day, so the main purpose of a deadline is to focus the mind – be that yours or someone else’s.
Most people are drawn to starting and (hopefully) completing tasks that have direct deadlines attached to them. In fact, most people do their best work when a deadline is fast approaching and the pressure is on. Why? Focus.
With an imminent deadline there’s no time for faffing, over-thinking or procrastinating. It’s time to get it done. So, even if there isn’t a deadline associated with a task, give it one (even if you have to make it up.) Trust me… with a deadline, everyone’s a winner!
3. Remember these rules (sneaky recap!)
- There are only so many hours in the day – don’t over-commit or over-promise. If you do, you will only under-deliver
- Being busy doesn’t mean you’re being productive
- Lists and structures (whether held as hard or soft copies) are crucial to success
- Learn to love lists and structures
- There’s always a more effective and efficient way of doing something – so strive to find it
- We are not designed to multi-task or multi-focus… so, wherever possible, don’t even attempt to
With the world evolving daily, give yourself a break, stop trying to do everything yourself and ease off on the obsession for everything to be perfect. Sit back see what others are capable of doing when given the trust and space to do so.
That way, you can bring your dreamed-of projects to life!