Delegating for desired results

We delegate two types of work:

  1. Work we know how to do
  2. Work we don’t know how to do

Why do we delegate this type of work?

  1. Work we know how to do – Typically this is work that we have outgrown.  In other words, we did it when we were coming up the ranks but now it is beneath our work level.
  2. Work we don’t know how to do – This kind of work we delegate because:
    • It’s not worth our time to learn it
    • Someone else could do it better

In either case, it is your job as a good leader to delegate responsibly.  Your expectation of the results and the actual results are directly related through your ability to define what you want.  When the results come back less than what you expected, think of how you can define the vision better.

For example, we asked one of our interns to print some show information on a show poster.  We gave him a show poster (11×17″ with 3″ of blank space at the bottom).  We started out by asking him to print the show date and venue name on the poster using MS Word to design the text.  The first version came out looking terribly.  I realized right away that I hadn’t properly defined what made for good poster text.  I took 5 minutes to think about this and I came up with the following:

  • The text should be big enough to fill the whole 3″ space
  • It should be bold enough that you can read it from 15′ away
  • The text font should match any font on the poster in serif/san-serif

Then I told the intern to try several different fonts, sizes, formatting of the date text and try them out to see what looks best.  I also gave him the context of why he was creating this; this layout would be used for all future posters that he would be printing out.  I asked him to come up with several options he liked and then we’d look at them and pick one together.

The results were vastly different.  And I learned my lesson.  The better you define what you want, the better the results will be.

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