We are often encouraging clients to take actions that increase the demand for their services. What about those times when you have not only enough work, but you have too much – more than you can do yourself? What do you do then? LEARN TO DELEGATE.
Delegating is easier said than done. Your ego will tell you that no one other than you can do the job, which is why so many people are clamoring for your services. If you are an aggressive “go-getter,” you may tell yourself that it is easier to do it yourself than to take the time to train someone else to do it. However, when you delegate, you may discover that the other person needs less training than you had anticipated or you may find that they can do it as well as you – sometimes even better! When we teach delegation, we explore “The Seven Sins of Delegation,” which we define as:
- Not establishing clear expectations
- Failing to communicate clearly
- Believing people are not ready yet
- Being unwilling to invest the time
- The “Do It My Way” Syndrome
- Abdicating, not delegating
- Taking it back
Consider, too, that it’s just as important to evaluate your options to delegate when you are accepting delegation as you likely need to hand off some of your responsibilities to someone else so you can manage the new assignment. I recently accepted “backup” status as a counselor in a healthcare agency, which included case supervision of two other counselors and regular attendance at weekly case conferences. When one of my supervisees suffered an accident, the expectations for my services changed from 3 hours per week to 2-3 days per week. I adjusted my various assignments with other contracts to attempt to do this for one month. Soon, it became clear that the injured counselor would be out for 6-9 months instead of the 4 weeks we had anticipated.
I presented the new information to the decision-makers in the agency and recognized that they were avoiding making a decision about what to do. This was partly because they didn’t need to act while I was accommodating their need, but it started to inconvenience me and my other contractors and patients. I realized I needed to make plans to manage the abundance of work I had and find other resources to delegate work to which included:
- Reviewing my original contract to manage my superiors’ expectations
- Setting a “by-when date” to return to my originally agreed-upon duties
- Delegating some of the assigned work to the other counselor available
- Recruiting two additional resources who could do the work
- Offering to assist in the orientation and training of the new staff, including budgeting the number of hours I would set aside to do this
So far, this plan is working. My alternative would have been to terminate the contract as it felt like it was becoming an all or nothing proposition for me. In hindsight, I could have recommended that the agency hire a temporary replacement initially instead of agreeing to be the person with chief responsibility for the work. Or, I could have said that “yes, I will do it for 4 weeks. But, if it takes longer, you will need to find a replacement” as my colleague, Tamera Loerzel coaches in her The Art of Saying No blog. In this time of crisis, I wanted to be there for my injured friend and not have her worry about the job while she was healing, but I found this added emotional factor was influencing how I was managing (or not managing, in this case!) the overflow of work.
When you have an abundance of work, temporary or long term, pay attention to how your delegation may be influenced by who is available, how you feel about their skill level, your willingness to “let go,” and then remember the importance of making yourself available for new challenges to come. Managing abundance requires both objective and subjective evaluation, examining with our heads and our hearts – and making a list of steps to take can help. What strategies do you use to delegate and manage your abundance?
With Warm Regards,