Some ways of delegating are better than others. Improve your outsourcing skills by learning from these delegation mistakes.
When have you ever been an instant expert at anything? Probably never because it doesn’t work that way. The same goes for learning how to delegate. Delegation is a skill to cultivate. It takes practice and technique but we’re never really taught how to do it so it’s natural to make mistakes. Over the last 5 years, I’ve worked as a personal concierge for over 100 individuals, executing over 10,000 of their tasks. I’ve seen what effective, mindful delegation looks like and what the most common mistakes are.
Mindful delegation empowers you to share the workload you face to live a more efficient and easeful life. We all delegate one way or another. Dining out, hiring a house cleaner, getting your kids to clean their rooms. As social creatures by nature, we live in a web of delegation and all have a role to play. Mindful delegation involves awareness and intentionally. When done correctly, the relief of outsourced work empowers you to focus your energy on what matters most.
Delegating without care can undo what it’s there for. Many people have bad experiences delegating and it’s usually linked to how it was requested. At home, at work, in our friend groups, we’re constantly leaning on each other to help get the work done. There are better ways to ask for support than others. Here are some of the most common mistakes we’ve seen:
Delegate then do it anyway.
If you’re gonna give the work to someone else, you gotta actually let them do it. Don’t micromanage or take on the task without letting them know. Give them the space to do the work and trust that it will get done. If you don’t trust their ability to do it, offer constructive feedback or release them from the task.
Delegate tasks that require your attention.
When looking at your task list, you must discern what requires your direct attention. Your expertise and your true presence are irreplaceable. There are times when literally no one else can replace you so focus your energy on those and delegate the rest.
Delegate with vague expectations.
In your mind, you have a satisfactory end result. Don’t keep this a secret, share it with whoever is taking on your tasks. Express what you want and by when you want it. Without this, the person taking on your tasks may disappoint you without even having the chance to wow you.
Withhold relevant information.
When asking someone to do something for you, empower them with what you already know. Be prepared to answer questions and provide additional context or information. The more you can offer upfront, the easier it is for the executor to follow through.
Miscalculate the ROI of time invested.
It may seem like it will take just as long to delegate as it will to just do the task but so often we miscalculate how long something takes us. Even if your to-do list is just made up of a bunch of small tasks, they add up. If ad hoc delegating feels inefficient to you, make up a list and make requests in batches. It may take you a few minutes to gather the list but that investment results in hours of tasks removed from your plate.
Delegate the same task to multiple people.
If you’re going to give someone a task, let them do it. Let them be the only one doing it. When you send it out to multiple people without them knowing, most of the hard work put in goes to waste. If you find someone else to help, let them know as soon as you can. They can either work collaboratively or figure out who should be the one doing it.
Delegate to people you don’t trust.
If you’re thinking about utilizing someone’s help, listen to your gut. Our intuition usually knows best. Delegating to someone you don’t trust will stress you out and might require you to scramble later on. Be selective with who you lean on. It’s better to take your time to find the support than just rush for the first option, despite your concerns.
If you’ve made a few of these mistakes, that’s okay! Just pay attention to how you go about it moving forward. So much of delegation comes down to trust and communication. Be clear with yourself and your supporters about who is doing what and when. Be patient with yourself and them as you learn how to delegate effectively. With regular practice, you’ll be a pro in no time.
Founder + CEO
Lover of cats, breakfast, and the ocean. Dreams of sailing the world.
Self-care go-to is sleeping.