Ten tips for delegating more effectively

How many times a day do you utter a version of the sentence, “How can I get _ to do _?” It could be as simple as getting your son to take out the garbage, your daughter to clean up her room, or your husband to prune the overgrown tree blocking the driveway, but it is a constant source of stress and frustration. And then what happens? Do you just give in and do it yourself or do you end up looking like Linda Blair in the Exorcist as you scream at the top of your lungs? What’s a modern woman to do? It’s called effective delegation. It might sound like something taught in an executive workshop (and it often is), but it is the key to keeping your sanity while getting some tasks accomplished.

Looking for a little inspiration? Read below for our top ten tips for effective delegating.

1. Know Thyself.

Are you the type that tells someone to do something and then scrutinizes and criticizes the whole time? Do you want to delegate but then feel somehow guilty and think you should do it yourself? You need to do a little soul searching before you even start.

2. What’s your Goal?

Figure out why you are doing something and not relinquishing control. Are you afraid if you don’t pack your kids lunches that the teacher will look down on you? Think about what you are afraid of (chances are, it’s without merit), then think about how someone else might benefit. Passing the task of making lunch to your kids will give them a sense of responsibility while letting them make their own choices. Plus, a less over-taxed mom will be happier.

3. Divvy It Up.

Sit down with your family and make a giant list of all of the things that have to get done, then divvy it up. You can assign tasks by skill set or let them pick, as long as the tasks are evenly distributed (read: you are not the only one on the list).

4. Be Clear About Standards.

After divvying it up, be clear about how it needs to get done. Taking out the garbage means putting it in the can with the lid on, not just taking it down to the basement. The clearer you are in the beginning means less nagging later.

5. Be Clear About Timelines.

This is similar to above and may seem self-explanatory, but teenagers (and husbands) often need a little extra guidance. Beds aren’t just made but done before school. Garbage is put away each night after dinner. Whatever the guidelines and deadlines are, be sure to express them.

6. Repeat.

Remember the game of telephone where someone starts with a word or phrase and by the end it’s completely different. Make sure what you’ve discussed above has been heard and understood.

7. Set a Context.

Rather than just barking orders and telling people what to do, explain why you need help and why you think that person is the right one for the job.

8. Negotiate.

Maybe you really want the garbage taken out after dinner but your son prefers to take it out in the morning on the way to school. Remember that you’re not the only one in the relationship and that it’s ok to give and take.

9. Let Go.

Don’t micro-manage. If you aren’t doing a task but it still gets done, resist the urge to tell them what they’ve done wrong.

10. Positive Feedback.

It’s ok to set consequences if something doesn’t get done (i.e., taking away toys if chores aren’t finished, etc.) but when something is done, make sure you notice it and pay special attention. It goes a long way.

What type of delegator are you? Do you let go of tasks easily, or do you tend to stand over the people you’ve delegated to, watching their every (mis)step? Do you finish the half-done tasks of others, or do you let the offenders know their work is not yet done? Do you find yourself barking orders, or explaining the big picture? How might you become a better delegator? Or if you’re really good at it, what tips could you offer others who struggle to ask for/get the help they need? Let us know!