4 Habits of Successful Delegators

by | September 10, 2014

It’s an ironic truth that it often takes work to get help. The act of delegating responsibilities can free your time and attention but it rarely works without some effort on your part.

We all know power professionals who move a mile a minute, delegating tasks left and right to accomplish more each day than most people do in a week. What’s their secret? These strategic delegators have some identifiable habits that allow them to make getting help seem as easy as it sounds.

1. They plan ahead.

Few actions are as important to success in anything as preparation. In “Never Eat Alone” Keith Ferrazzi describes his preparation process for building thousands of strong friends and business connections — the pinnacle upon which he’s built his career. Before every meeting he investigates who he’ll meet and equips himself with information to engage them in meaningful conversations. He spends almost as much time preparing to meet people as he does in the meetings themselves.

Like Keith, those who successfully employ the help of others around them are constantly planning ahead. They think big-picture about what they need to accomplish, making it easy to identify where they can plug in help from those around them. Time and again they’re able to clearly offload these tasks with ample time to make sure all runs smoothly.

2. They constantly strive for efficiency.

When you outsource a task or a responsibility to someone else the goal is to increase efficiency. Achieving efficiency becomes a mantra for those who successfully delegate. With every new task they consider, “What’s the most efficient way to get this done?”

By keeping the goal of efficiency constantly top of mind, they avoid resorting to old (read: non-efficient) habits or neglecting to consider the people and resources around them. Instead, they maximize the efficiency of their every endeavor and promote efficient processes all around them.

These great delegators understand deeply that, while there will always be many approaches to a problem, there will usually be an approach or two that is the most efficient.

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3. They approach life as a team sport.

Delegation isn’t simply the ability to unload work onto someone else. It’s an opportunity to maximize the productivity of an entire group or system. It’s the ability to spread crucial tasks among a set of hands, picking and choosing the most appropriate places for each. The end result of all it all is a job well done, or a win.

This is the mindset of successful delegators. When they offload a task they set their delegatee up for success by assigning him or her a task fit to their abilities, and they provide their delegatee with all of the information necessary to complete the task. They act as quarterback by throwing an accurate pass to their receiver in clear sight of the endzone. A bad pass on their part will result in a setback for the team, so they ensure that they’re always throwing gems.

4. They close loops.

Every task has a start and a finish, and great delegators recognize the need to be present at both ends. As a delegator you can offload action but responsibility ultimately falls on you. To have repeated success it’s important to follow through — whether this requires checking for error, providing feedback or sending a simple “thank you” to those who’ve helped complete the task.

A sure fire way to encounter issues with delegation is to leave open loops. It’s important that your delegatee knows what’s officially done, whether it was done correctly and that he or she is able to partake in (even a small) celebration of the task’s completion.

Great delegators are constantly closing (and opening) loops. They’re engaged just enough with what’s on their plate to ensure that every task gets off to a great start and is completed successfully.