Delegation vs. Abdication

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I was recently listening to Perry Marshall, and he was talking about something that really hit me.  He starting talking about delegating your workload.  And delegating sounds like a great idea in theory, but being a small business guy, I don’t have a lot of people I can delegate things too.  But when Perry started explaining that delegation can be contractors, part time people, or even just a virtual assistant that works for you an hour/day, it started to hit me that delegation is good.  That’s when he went into a better explanation of what delegation means.

A lot of people look at delegation as “here, do this for me and let me know when it’s done”.  Literally, just throw it over the wall and forget it.  This is abdication, and this is absolutely what you DO NOT want to do.  As soon as throw something over the wall, it either doesn’t get done, slips through the cracks, and can potentially cost you a lot of time and money to fix.

Now, Delegation is best described as a four step process:

1. Request – this is where you ask someone to do something for you.  Pretty straightforward.  What do you want done, how do you want it done, when do you need it by, etc.  All the details you need to do a clean hand off.

2. Negotiation – this is where the other person tells you what they can do.  This might be a later date, or less functionality.  For example, I can build you the project plan by next Friday, not Monday when you originally asked for it.  Then you have to decide if you can wait that long, or if there is an alternative (perhaps have it partially completed by Monday, or find someone else to do it).

3.  Perform the task.  This is where the other person takes the agreed upon specifications from step 2, and does the work.

4.  Accept the task.  This is by far the most important step.  this is where you need to review what was done, and determine if meets your needs, if the other people lived up to expectations, or did they delivery something half complete.  If it isn’t done right, it’s now your responsibility to get it finished, or return it back to the party that did the work, and reject it.

Now, the whole idea behind this is that you one way or another, you are still responsible for anything you delegate, and it’s still your job to verify it was done to your standards.  If you accept it, then it’s on you for anything done incorrectly.

So remember, delegation is not just handing it off and hoping for the best.  It’s still a process, and you still need to validate it was done correctly.

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