On the importance of delegating

Posted: January 23, 2014 in General
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I’d venture a guess that most people — particularly creative people — have a hard time giving up control. You want everything to be perfect. You want everything done right. You want everything done your way.

Trust me when I say I know exactly how this feels. I’ll admit I’m a bit of a control freak. Part of that stems from enjoying planning and organizing, and the other part stems from wanting things done quickly. And, okay, yes, wanting things done right.

Aside from the fact that your way (or my way) isn’t necessarily the best plan of action (hate to break it to you, but it’s true), you can’t always do things yourself. You’ll run yourself ragged, and I know this from experience. You may think you can take it all on, and maybe you can for a while, but eventually it’ll catch up to you. Doing everything yourself is exhausting, and the more exhausted you get, the more the quality of your work decreases.

The solution, then, is to delegate.

Delegating is the act of entrusting a job, or part of a job, to another person. In other words, giving up control.

Does it make your skin crawl like it does mine? Sometimes I just want to do everything myself, consequences be damned. I hate waiting on other people when something need to be done RIGHT NOW. I hate knowing that they might only put forth 50% of their best effort when I’d put in 110%.

It’s hard relying on other people, especially if they have their own responsibilities that must contend with their attention. This is especially difficult for creative projects because what’s in your head might not necessarily be in their head.

But it can also be a wonderful thing. I’ve worked on a hundred projects for Hypable in which I have to relinquish creative control to our graphics team. I’m a writer, not a designer. So even though I have an idea of what I want to see my article turned into, I can’t create that image. The fact of the matter is that I’m just not that skilled.

But they are. And oftentimes they come up with something a lot better than what I originally had in mind. And I’m so grateful for that. It’s taught me that delegating doesn’t always mean you’ll be disappointed; sometimes it means you’ll be impressed.

Even if you have the skill set to do something, it doesn’t mean you should. If it’s a labor- or time-intensive job and you don’t have enough hours in the day, delegate the task to someone else. If they’re willing and you trust them, why not? It allows you to focus on the more important tasks, and in most cases you’ll be able to check over their work to see if it meets your standards. Even if they don’t get it right the first time around, usually people are willing to do it until it’s right, especially if you’re a good boss or a good friend!

So, while I think trying to be Superman or Wonder Woman is a novel idea, it just isn’t possible. Reaching for the stars is great, but having someone help you get there is even better. Delegating is hard, but the more you do it, the more natural it’ll feel. And as that happens, you’ll become a more efficient person, whatever your aspirations are.

It’s something I continue to struggle with, but aspire to get better at. It’ll never be easy for me, but at least I’ll get more used to it.

Do you have trouble relinquishing control? What helps to get over that hurdle? Do you have any good stories about how delegating a task to someone else became a positive experience?

  1. juckanin115 says:

    Right on, Karen. This is so accurate. I need to get used to giving up some control as well. It’s not easy, but we need to to ensure that we don’t go insane.

  2. Sounds like a dilemma most bosses deal with daily. Experience and maturity and surrounding yourself with talented people can make it easier for you to delegate some of your work load. Of course if your Aunt has all the time in the world to help out, why not let her? Surely there’s something the old bag could do.

    • Karen Rought says:

      Haha, thanks, Aunt Donna! Luckily, I already have a group of people to keep me sane, and they’re great at doing it. But if I need anything else, I’ll surely keep you in mind.

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