Delegate or frustrate? The art of getting things done

Delegate or frustrate? The art of getting things done

If you are frustrated by things not getting done around you to your liking – take a good look at yourself this week, the fault could lie with you. I am reviewing my own delegation style at the moment and how I can be more effective. Delegating can be problematic in the largest corporates as well as in privately owned companies and the fault often lies with us as business owners in not communicating well. Lawson Consulting Group experts tell us that the biggest barrier to effective delegation is you. Activity doesn’t equal productivity. Being busy isn’t clever, being productive is.

The 2011 Safe Work Australia study, identified that “body and mental stress” costs the Australian economy approximately $30 billion a year, and highlighted a feasible solution was better workplace delegation and communication.

So why do frustrations exist in the workforce – or in the home! Delegating effectively is an evolving art form, but there are some basic guidelines to help us. The first thing to recognise is that people are not like you. People approach things differently. The sooner you realise that, the easier life becomes.

Over the years, I’ve worked with hundreds of staff members to get things done and delegation has often worked like clockwork. Having like-minded people on side you can trust, enjoy and travel a road together is a precious place to be and one of the greatest and most rewarding joys of being in business. My first staff members still work with me. We are virtually telepathic in our task allocation and have a deep mutual respect. On that road, I’ve devised with the help of my team and some business reading, to produce a few delegation tips. I’d welcome your additions:

The Taurus five secrets to better delegation


When a ship sends a message to another ship they do so using Morse code, a series of taps and signals that tap out the entire message. When a ship receives a message it sends the message back in entirety to the sender ship to ensure the right message has been received. There is simply no place for error. In the same way, when you delegate a task, ask your team member to repeat back to you what the task is. This way you can pick up any mis-communications and check that your request has been understood.

The “it’s not done till it’s delivered’’ boomerang

The magic of a boomerang is that when you throw it, it comes back to you – and this is what you want with delegated tasks. Ensure your team members understand that the task isn’t complete until a response or feedback is returned to the Task Director.  I tell my team, ‘’it is not done until it is delivered.”’  Until you, the Task Director, know that a task is competently done you have not delegated effectively.  Ensure your team knows that a task is not considered ‘done’’ until an update or status is delivered back to you.

Beware of Black Holes

Black holes generate fear. They exist in the sci-fi books and movies and enable the Universe to swallow up planets, stars etc. Things become lost in black holes and I tell my team I want no Delegation Black Holes at Taurus. I want to hear back on progress, all the way back up the management line.

Cultivate a Culture of Care not ‘’Who cares!’’

Disengaged staff harm a business. If staff are not interested in servicing customers beyond expectations, performing duties well, the business will suffer and ultimately so will bottom line.  A good starting point is to put the right people in the right jobs, and allow them to fulfil their core strengths. In a competitive marketplace, most people won’t stay if they are not happy. We tend to be good at what we enjoy.

The magic of the DI

I’ve pinched this one from Steve Jobs. But he was ruthless at ensuring that in every meeting, someone was the ‘’Designated Individual’’ the DI to get the tasks completed. He made someone take responsibility. Great idea! So many times we agree things as a collective, but don’t allocate the responsibility accordingly.

Whether you are a business owner or you work in a multinational organisation, your need to perfect the art of delegation is the same. I request new team members to ask six questions when delegated a task:

  • Who is the work being prepared for specifically?
  • For what purpose am I doing this?
  • When do you need it by?
  • What format do you need it in?
  • Where should it be saved or stored?
  • How long do you expect it to take me?

An effective training session on improved delegation could boost your productivity this next week. Good luck.

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