(As previously seen on the HelaWrite blog.)
Make Your Own Damn Sandwich: Knowing When NOT To Delegate
There are times when we fail to delegate, and other times when we delegate too much or too often. Translation: being lazy, or, sometimes, being fearful of the unknown. In today’s American society, our “microwave” culture is used to instant results, instant gratification, and instant solutions. But most good things take time–time that we personally need to invest into a project or job.
When I taught junior high, some of my students were big-time offenders, delegating too often (or just not doing something at all). Sometimes, they expected me or their parents to give them the answers! I often used our class time to create teaching moments where I empowered them to think for themselves and do for themselves, while still understanding the need for and importance of community. I focused on values like teamwork and integrity, and would explain that integrity means doing what you say you’re going to do.
Happily, most of my students “got it,” especially after having me as a teacher for 3 years in a row. They rose to my expectations and escaped becoming part of the Me Generation statistics.
This lazy spirit doesn’t just affect the younger generation. Sadly, I’ve witnessed many adults doing the bare minimum to get by, or over-delegating tasks in order to take the easy road. No wonder my students acted the way they did! They were just following the example set before them.
I think we can and should change that.
Here’s my take on when NOT to delegate:
- When you’re really good at the task at hand. If this is a job or project that’s aligned with your top strengths and skill set, just do it! It’s not about getting all the glory, but rather about doing what you’re good at.
- If the process of getting the job done will be more efficient if you do it. There are certain tasks that we loathe to do. I, for one, do not always enjoy organizing things–my stuff, or others’. But you know what? I’m really damn good at it and I’ll do what needs to be done in that area if it’ll make things go by quickly.
- If you’ll waste time by teaching someone else how to complete the project. Here’s a non-conventional example: I used to own a knitted apparel business and I needed some help from my friends to meet a large order. I was knitting clutch bags and had to figure out how to best meet the demand. My friends knew how to knit, but I had a specific design and pattern I was following and would have wasted time by teaching them how to finish each clutch the way I did. However, I also knew they could sew linings into the clutches and add some finishing touches–things I wasn’t excited about doing. So, rather than delegate everything, I chose specific tasks for them to finish. Had I waited on them to finish the bulk of the product, I would never have met my deadline.
- If you can do it, but you’re just being lazy. Yes, we should be generous with one another and perform acts of service out of the goodness of our hearts, BUT we also need to know where to draw the boundary line. If we are capable of doing the task, and have the time and the skills, then we should just buck up and get it done.
- If it scares you, but you’re totally capable of doing it. Sometimes, we need to learn a new skill or embark on an adventure. Being out of our comfort zone can be very scary, but when we’re vulnerable and have an open mind, we often learn more from the experience. (And, in the end, we feel good about doing something different.)
I hope you’ve enjoyed this 2-part post about delegation. If you haven’t had a chance to read part 1, click HERE to do so. And, for pure entertainment, you can click HERE to see: 18 GIFS That Are Lazier Than You by BuzzFeed.