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How to Delegate

How to Delegate

Delegating tasks having to do with your coaching business seems to be a no-brainer, but can be surprisingly difficult to do. It also stands to reason that if you, as a coach, are not adequately leveraging the power of delegation; it will be difficult to help your overwhelmed, overworked client devise a delegation system that works for them.

Why so difficult?

Those coaches who do not delegate tend to tell themselves three things:

  1. No one can do things as well as I can
  2. It’s easier to just do it myself than to take the time to train someone else
  3. When I do delegate, the job doesn’t get done in a timely way or in the way I want it done

In 2009, I was struggling to keep up with all my responsibilities as my coaching program was just getting started. One task was trying to set up a newsletter. I felt like since it was my business, and I had my hand in every part of it, no one else could possibly have the insight I did to create a good newsletter. A colleague had repeatedly offered to help and I finally got to the point where I was desperate enough to accept. Turns out, one of her previous jobs was as the editor of a newsletter for a large golfing club. What she created in a few minutes looked far more professional than what I had been working on for weeks!

Then there are those who delegate unsuccessfully:

  1. They delegate all the “grunt work” that is no fun to do
  2. They delegate to the wrong people
  3. They delegate the wrong tasks
  4. They delegate and then micromanage
  5. They delegate and do a disappearing act

Delegating In Groups

While conducting a lot of coach training classes as well as group coaching, I have had an opportunity to observe the role delegation plays and how to get the best results.

To be effective, tasks should inspire commitment and bring out the best of or build on the talents of each team member. Listen in on a meeting of 5 or more people.

  • Pick out the leader of the group – the one who keeps everyone on topic, and sets the tone for how the meeting will proceed.
  • Then look for the talkers – the ones who are full of ideas and may even monopolize the conversation.
  • Others speak less often, but when they do, they contribute something meaningful and on point. They are thoughtful and solution oriented, not quick to jump to a conclusion. They will study the topic and organize their thoughts, their notes, even their notebook – it’s the one with the color coded tabs covering all the aspects of the project and what has been discussed for each one.
  • And some hardly speak a word.

Each of these people needs to feel as if they are important to the group in order for them to commit to the group’s goals. For that to happen, they need to have a clear role to fill associated with specific tasks. So, who would you delegate the following tasks to? What qualities would you look for? What makes you think they would be good at the designated task? You may count yourself as a member of the group.

  1. Organizing the agenda
  2. Taking notes
  3. Turning the notes into a usable document preparing for a paper to be presented
  4. Running the research portion
  5. Leading the discussion
  6. Determining next steps
  7. Sharing notes from last meeting
  8. Updating the group on individual progress
  9. Brainstorming
  10. Photographing the meeting

If this were my group, I would probably put myself in charge of the agenda, but then BUTT OUT as much as possible. I am a talker so I need to hold myself back in order to give other people a chance to share their ideas. If at the end of the brainstorming session I had an idea no one else brought up, I would put it forward to the group for their input, but make it no more or less important than the other ideas. Rather than pass on all the dirty work, I would occasionally give myself the job of note taker, updater, etc. just to get in the trenches with my team showing I don’t give out any task I am not willing to do myself. (1, 9)

Talkers sometimes have a need to feel important. Of course, this does not mean all of them. Some are simply confident and gregarious. Whatever the cause, most of us like to be validated and may even take over the conversation to be sure we are being heard. How to make best use of someone who is confident, not afraid to speak in front of the group, wants to feel important, and may talk a bit more than is conducive – sometimes even off the subject. I might put this type of person in charge of determining the next steps and present to the group. This gives them an important job, but also encourages them to carefully listen to others rather than get stuck on their own point of view. I would invite them to participate in the brainstorming, and have the group help to set the rules for that process – throw out any idea, good, bad or crazy, in one sentence. (6, 9)

The ones who seldom speak but come up with valuable information or creative thoughts when they do, I would put in charge of (3, 5, 8, 9). Turning the notes into a usable document, preparing for a paper to be presented, leading the discussion or updating the group on individual progress – in other words, reporting on behalf of other members for a brief overview.

Now for my quiet ones. If they are on my team, I’m going to assume they are very capable – probably more capable than they realize. Or they may prefer to absorb the information and process rather than do a lot of talking right away. To accommodate those needs (in the beginning at least) I would put them in charge of tasks like taking notes because speaking isn’t that necessary, running the research project if it is more “behind the scenes” work, share the notes from the last meeting, and photograph the meeting (or other creative, out of the box talent they may bring.) (2, 4, 7, 9)

Everyone is invited to brainstorm. (9)

At regular intervals, I would shake things up and re-assign the roles.

The Secret to Successful Delegation

The secret to delegating is to recognize that you don’t have to, nor should you put yourself in charge of everything. Not only will you be overworked, but you deny your project or business of the creative input from other people who may actually be better at something than you are!

Once you have delegated, respect the learning curve by giving the person the help and time they need to perform up to your expectations. Then step out of the way so that they can grow in confidence and ability. If you have a good head on your shoulders, you’ll find that adding a few more increases productivity while decreasing your stress levels.

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