The Art of Delegation

By Jennifer Tougas, PhD

I had a meeting with a colleague the other day. It was pretty easy to see that she was stressed out to the max. She was essentially doing the job of three people thanks to layoffs and job reassignments, and it was catching up with her. She has the kind of personality that wants everything to be perfect and feels personally responsible to do things so it’s all perfect. I recognized myself in her, as I have been accused on more than one occasion of being on the OCD, control freak, perfectionist side of things.

I shared this thought with her this morning. There is only one you and there are only 24 hours in the day. In addition to work, you have responsibilities at home, to children, spouses, pets, households, parents, etc. You also have to remember to take time to care for yourself along the way. And if you’re spread too thin, you run the risk of doing things badly, which makes you feel awful because you’re a perfectionist.

So recognize, because time is limited, that you’ll need to choose wisely how to spend that time. As you look at your task list, ask yourself, “Is it more important for this to get done?”, or, “Is it more important for this to be done by ME?” Delegate all of those “more important to get done” tasks to the talented people around you so you can spend time on the “more important for ME to do” tasks.

Delegating has the added benefit of engaging the people around you and using their talents, too. And it’s OK if they do things differently than you would–they are not you. Unless it’s absolutely wrong, let it go! If there is an opportunity to coach them up a bit so that next time, feel free. Just don’t redo it from scratch yourself. That defeats the purpose of delegating the task to begin with.

If you find yourself feeling overwhelmed by what lies ahead, ask yourself, are there some talented people around me who can help?

Jennifer Tougas, PhD, is director of parking and transportation services at Western Kentucky University and a member of IPI’s Board of Directors.

 

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