Empowerment and Good Delegation

One of my clients is moving to a new office, and just shared with her staff a list of tasks to be done.

Her intent was for everybody to grab a task and pitch in.

See if you can spot the problem I see with this list of tasks:

  • Clean up the back entry, removing chemicals and items that are harmful
  • Hang up the racks, toilet paper holder for the bathroom
  • Put felt on the waiting room door to stop the sound of slamming
  • Put door stops on walls of all rooms
  • Clean the break room area
  • Remove the curtains in office or get them to hang correctly
  • Get cord for shredder and get shredding done and all garbage emptied
  • Vacuum thoroughly
  • Clean out the fish tank
  • Water the plants indoors and out
  • Blow up balloons (Friday night)

Here’s some more context – there are a lot of new people, and there hasn’t always been a lot of self-starting in the group.

See it?

These items are clear in my client’s eyes – she knows what she wants, but nobody else does.

If I were there, I might be able to guess how to carry out some of these. For a couple, there might be existing written procedures.

But for most, I’d be stuck until I got the answers to these questions:

  • What is the desired end state of this task, exactly?
  • What tools do I need and where are they?
  • What procedures do I need to know about and follow?

For example, “Clean up the back entry, removing chemicals and items that are harmful” – which items are harmful? Which chemicals do I “remove” – and where do they go?

You’re only really delegating when the person to whom you’re trying to hand the task is capable of operating successfully without further input from you. If they’re running back to you with questions, you didn’t prepare them correctly.

My suggestion here is to look this list over and, for each task that might be done more than once (vaccuum, clean fish tank, water plants) there should be a written procedure that includes the tools to be used and the standards to which the task must be performed.

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