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How to Delegate – Six Easy Steps

I think Instacart is a brilliant idea. I make a grocery list online, someone else goes shopping for me, and drops my groceries on my porch. What a How to delegategreat way to save time, unless I want a certain brand of canned tomatoes with no rosemary, and two green bananas and three that are almost ripe and one that is ripe right now. Meaning, if I want my groceries a certain way, I need to go shopping myself. No one else will pick precisely what I would. And delegating work and managing people is the same.

No one will do something just like you will. They might do it better or worse, but either way, work won’t be done just as you would do it. If you want something done precisely your way, you’re likely going to need to do it yourself.

There is little more demoralizing than working hard on a document and having your manager red line it with edits that aren’t wrong, they’re just not her way. This kind of feedback makes employees wonder why they bothered doing the work in the first place. Employees find themselves thinking and possibly saying, “If you’re going to change my work to be more your way, you should just do it yourself.”

This isn’t to say that if you have a vision for how work should be done that you shouldn’t delegate. Managers need to delegate work or they will be focused on the wrong things, exhausted, and resentful, and employees won’t grow, develop, and be properly utilized.

Managers need to set clear expectations, follow up to review work, provide regular feedback as the work is in process, and then expect and accept that completed projects won’t look just like what they would have done. Employees might produce great work, but it likely won’t be a mirror image of what the manager would have done herself.

If getting work that is slightly askew from what you would have done works for you, delegate the work. If work produced must be a certain way, you should likely do it yourself, or risk both you and your employees’ frustration.

Here are six steps on how to delegate, a skill I think most managers can strengthen:

How to delegate step one: Provide clear instructions to the person to whom you’re delegating. If you have an image of what something should look like, provide a sample document.

How to delegate step two:  Ask the person to whom you delegated to tell you what you’re expecting. Don’t ask, “Do you have any questions?” The right answer to that question is, “No,” and gives you no insight about the person’s understanding of your expectations. Instead, ask, “So I know I’ve been clear, what am I asking you to do?” Or you could ask, “Based on what I’ve said, what do you think I’m looking for?” There are lots of ways to assess a person’s understanding. You simply need to get the person talking.

How to delegate step three: Don’t assume people know what to do. We have all left someone’s office with a new project thinking, “I have no idea where to start.” And then that project goes on the bottom of the pile.

Ask the person, “What are you going to do first?” If they give you an answer that tells you they know what to do, step back. They’ve earned some freedom. If they give you an answer that will not lead to the results you want, step in and offer help.

How to delegate step four: Ask to see work as the work is completed versus reviewing all of the work when the project is done. Giving a lot of upgrade feedback after work is completed is demoralizing to employees and wastes a lot of time. Tell employees, “I’d like to see your progress every Friday (or whatever interval is appropriate depending on the length and complexity of the project). This isn’t to micromanage you, it’s to ensure you don’t do a bunch of work that I will want changed. I don’t want you to waste your time.”

How to delegate step five: Give candid feedback when you review work. Don’t say something is fine if it’s not. Make changes while the work is in its early stages versus when it’s almost complete.

How to delegate step six:  Resist the temptation to edit work or give feedback on work that is correct but wasn’t done your way. Remember, if you want something done your way, sometimes it makes sense to do it yourself.

When it makes sense to do something yourself: When you must have something a certain way and you’re the only person who can and will do it that way. If you’re ok with things not having the same words, formatting or flavor you’d put on them, delegate. If you need your bananas to look a certain way, go pick them up yourself. And both options are right answers. It’s ok to want what you want.

Manage people


How to Delegate – Six Easy Steps

I think Instacart is a brilliant idea. I make a grocery list online, someone else goes shopping for me, and drops my groceries on my porch. What a How to delegategreat way to save time, unless I want a certain brand of canned tomatoes with no rosemary, and two green bananas and three that are almost ripe and one that is ripe right now. Meaning, if I want my groceries a certain way, I need to go shopping myself. No one else will pick precisely what I would. And delegating work and managing people is the same.

No one will do something just like you will. They might do it better or worse, but either way, work won’t be done just as you would do it. If you want something done precisely your way, you’re likely going to need to do it yourself.

There is little more demoralizing than working hard on a document and having your manager red line it with edits that aren’t wrong, they’re just not her way. This kind of feedback makes employees wonder why they bothered doing the work in the first place. Employees find themselves thinking and possibly saying, “If you’re going to change my work to be more your way, you should just do it yourself.”

This isn’t to say that if you have a vision for how work should be done that you shouldn’t delegate. Managers need to delegate work or they will be focused on the wrong things, exhausted, and resentful, and employees won’t grow, develop, and be properly utilized.

Managers need to set clear expectations, follow up to review work, provide regular feedback as the work is in process, and then expect and accept that completed projects won’t look just like what they would have done. Employees might produce great work, but it likely won’t be a mirror image of what the manager would have done herself.

If getting work that is slightly askew from what you would have done works for you, delegate the work. If work produced must be a certain way, you should likely do it yourself, or risk both you and your employees’ frustration.

Here are six steps on how to delegate, a skill I think most managers can strengthen:

How to delegate step one: Provide clear instructions to the person to whom you’re delegating. If you have an image of what something should look like, provide a sample document.

How to delegate step two:  Ask the person to whom you delegated to tell you what you’re expecting. Don’t ask, “Do you have any questions?” The right answer to that question is, “No,” and gives you no insight about the person’s understanding of your expectations. Instead, ask, “So I know I’ve been clear, what am I asking you to do?” Or you could ask, “Based on what I’ve said, what do you think I’m looking for?” There are lots of ways to assess a person’s understanding. You simply need to get the person talking.

How to delegate step three: Don’t assume people know what to do. We have all left someone’s office with a new project thinking, “I have no idea where to start.” And then that project goes on the bottom of the pile.

Ask the person, “What are you going to do first?” If they give you an answer that tells you they know what to do, step back. They’ve earned some freedom. If they give you an answer that will not lead to the results you want, step in and offer help.

How to delegate step four: Ask to see work as the work is completed versus reviewing all of the work when the project is done. Giving a lot of upgrade feedback after work is completed is demoralizing to employees and wastes a lot of time. Tell employees, “I’d like to see your progress every Friday (or whatever interval is appropriate depending on the length and complexity of the project). This isn’t to micromanage you, it’s to ensure you don’t do a bunch of work that I will want changed. I don’t want you to waste your time.”

How to delegate step five: Give candid feedback when you review work. Don’t say something is fine if it’s not. Make changes while the work is in its early stages versus when it’s almost complete.

How to delegate step six:  Resist the temptation to edit work or give feedback on work that is correct but wasn’t done your way. Remember, if you want something done your way, sometimes it makes sense to do it yourself.

When it makes sense to do something yourself: When you must have something a certain way and you’re the only person who can and will do it that way. If you’re ok with things not having the same words, formatting or flavor you’d put on them, delegate. If you need your bananas to look a certain way, go pick them up yourself. And both options are right answers. It’s ok to want what you want.

Manage people


Hug Your Boss Day – 6 Ways to Thank A Good Boss

Having a good manager is key to a happy life. A good manager can make your job (and life) a happy experience. A bad manager can make your job (and life) hell. If you’ve worked long enough to have both good and bad boss’s, you already know this. Having a good manager is worth a lot.

If you’re lucky enough to have a good manager, say “thank you” on National Hug Your Boss Day, this Friday. Don’t physically hug her, of course. She isn’t likely to appreciate that. But there are lots of other ways to say “thank you.”

I don’t think it’s appropriate for employees to buy managers gifts. But there are lots of ways to show appreciation without spending money. Think about what’s meaningful to you. I’m sure an email containing positive feedback, a handwritten note, or a positive verbal comment all feel good to you, and they’ll feel good to your boss as well.

hug your boss day

Here are six ways to show your boss you appreciate her on hug your boss day:

Hug your boss day idea #1: Send your boss an email, telling her some of the things she does that make you feel valued and that make your organization a good place to work. Be as specific as you can. Specific feedback is more meaningful, authentic, and helpful than vague generalities. For example, rather than saying, “You’re such a great boss! I really appreciate you,” considering saying something like, “I really appreciate the time you take teaching me about our business. I’ve learned a lotl in the past six months.” When you give specific feedback your boss will know what she does that’s meaningful to you, making it more likely that she’ll replicate that behavior in the future. If you provide specific feedback, you’ll both get something out of the recognition you provide.

Hug your boss day idea #2: Write her a handwritten note. A handwritten note is more impactful than an email. It’s so rare for anyone to get a handwritten note, let alone from a direct report, it’s something your boss will appreciate and keep for a long time. Like the suggestion above, be sure to provide specific feedback about what your boss does that you appreciate.

Hug your boss day idea #3: Equally impactful to a handwritten note is to talk to your boss in person. Giving verbal feedback may feel a little weird if it’s not something you do often, but she’ll appreciate the risk you took in being honest and vulnerable to make her feel appreciated.

Hug your boss day idea #4: Have your team write and act out a skit for your manager. This may sound corny, but skits are a fun and unique way to thank your boss, and something she likely hasn’t experienced before. During the skit, demonstrate some of the things your boss does that team members appreciate. Ham it up. It’ll be fun and she’ll learn a lot about what’s important to the team.

Hug your boss day idea #5: Write a song that tells your boss what you appreciate about her and have your team perform it. Like skits, this is a fun team activity that will be memorable for everyone. Have whomever on your team  loves stuff like this spearhead the effort versus the person who is tortured by it.

I realize that skits and songs may not sound fun. In fact, some of you might now feel physically ill. In my experience, people typically roll their eyes at first and then end up having a great time. Try it! Teams that post a picture of themselves performing a skit or a song for their boss on our Facebook page will be entered in a contest to receive free Candor Bars (very delicious chocolate bars) How’s that for an incentive?!

Hug your boss day idea #6: Have a pot luck lunch. This is a good opportunity for the team to spend time together. Just make sure you pick food she likes. If my team brought in Mexican food (I’m not a fan. I know I’m weird), I’d know that they really didn’t like me. Are you guys reading this???

Don’t take a good boss for granted. Find a way to say “thank you” this Friday that will be meaningful to her.


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