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Do You Find Delegating Challenging – Here’s Help!

Gayle Petrillo April 2023

Career Kuel Thought Leader: Gayle Petrillo

Vacation! We all need to take a break.

It’s so GOOD for us, as business owners, individuals, spouses, friends, and colleagues. Taking time away enables us to recharge. 

“I propose we try delegating and/or asking for help. Start with the little things.”

Hubby and I just returned from six magnificent days in Hawaii. I didn’t bring my laptop. Of course, I had my iPhone; however, that was used to make phone calls, especially to keep in touch with my 90-year-old mom, in the advent she needed something – refill prescriptions (I thought I had covered all my bases before leaving).

Struggling With Delegating:

What I contemplated while away is something I believe most of us struggle with. Delegating. As businesswomen, whether we work for a corporate entity, non-profit or are entrepreneurial, we tend to do it all. We think we HAVE to do it all.

Why is that? Some of us are perfectionists and believe it will take more time to teach someone to do a task the way we do it, only to determine it wasn’t completed the way we expected it and we redo it. Is that due to the way we communicated our expectations? Is it because we have trust issues? Some of us think we show signs of weak leadership if we ask for help. 

I propose we try delegating and/or asking for help. Start with the little things. Believe it or not, it makes us stronger, not weaker. Others will see us as confident, empowered leaders for requesting assistance. Seeking help also shows that we have trust in others; and therefore, we set the bar higher, encouraging those we collaborate with to want to do better; to be better; to learn more. 

Important Component Of Delegating:

Suppose, instead of asking someone to help with a task and advising them of how to do it by explaining how we accomplish the task, we set the expectation of what needs to be done and then we let them do it. We all do things differently because our strengths are varied.

An important component of delegating is to ensure that the person we have engaged to help understands the final outcome and the deadline. This requires strong communication skills. It is up to us to ensure that the person assisting has the opportunity to ask questions, get clarification. And then as they progress with the project, they need to feel comfortable to approach us to ensure they are on the right track. 

What I have found is that most reasonable people want to do a good job. Very few people I’ve run across come into work any day with the thought, “I’m not going to do the best job I can today.” Sure, some people need extra encouragement to be positive – that discussion is for another time.

“Again, it’s about how we communicate. Our words matter.”

Where many of us step sideways is one of two ways. The first is by assuming once we communicate our need, we walk away and wait to receive the final product. The second mis-step is that we pester our colleague about their progress, literally or figuratively peering over their shoulder. Who works well like that? Not likely any of us. 

The Teaching Moment:

In my experience those I’ve delegated to know what and how to accomplish the task at hand. If it’s their first or second time in that role, they are likely unsure of themselves so they ask, “what should I do now?” or “is this what you wanted?”, etc. When approached with these questions, I always turn it back to them, inquiring with, “what do you think?”. Nine times out of ten, they surprise themselves and know the answer. They know next steps.

When we take the time to coach those we work with, giving them positive feedback, we all win. When the answer you receive is not quite on target, rather than saying, “No, you have it all wrong!”, try this approach. “Have you considered this idea (or option)?” Again, it’s about how we communicate. Our words matter. 

You’ve just provided a teaching moment. You have coached this individual. The results will likely include your building more trust in that individual so you’ll return to delegate more. In addition, you have enhanced the other person’s self-confidence. In the future they will be less likely to come to you for answers they already know.

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About the Author:

Gayle Petrillo is President of First Impressions, Image Consulting. Gayle is an image consultant working with both businesses and individuals. Her services include: customer service training; team building skills; secret shopper services; gossip avoidance techniques; closet analysis; wardrobe transformations, personal shopping; employment coaching; and presentation skills.