Gini Dietrich

Five Tips to Effectively Delegate in the New Year

By: Gini Dietrich | January 7, 2016 | 

Five Tips to Effectively Delegate in the New YearBy Gini Dietrich

A couple of months ago, I read something that John Jantsch wrote that really resonated with me.

He said:

A business owner looks at the work to be done and asks, “How can I get all of this done?” An entrepreneur looks at the same work and ponders, “How can I get someone else to do all of this?”

It was the intro to a blog post about being obsessed with delegation, if you want to scale.

On Tuesday, I mentioned that delegation has been part of my business goals for at least three years now…and I continue to fail miserably at it.

You see, I love doing the work. Not all of it, of course, but I love the metrics and data compilation. I love tinkering with the back-end of websites. I love figuring out challenges clients are having that aren’t typical to the PR professional.

So I do that work.

I also want to be seen as a leader who isn’t afraid to roll up her sleeves and get the work done. And I love doing the more forward-thinking things so I can learn from them and present them as lessons for you here. That isn’t going to end.

Scale, Baby, Scale


The rest of it? It has to end because scale became a big goal for us last year, and continues to be so.

We had 65 percent growth from 2014 to 2015 and we are poised to have 55 percent growth this year.

That’s almost unheard of in a service business—and we have Spin Sucks Pro to thank for it.

“Scale, baby, scale” is the mantra around here and we cannot do it if I focus on things other than vision, culture, client relationships, rainmaking, and money management.

You’ll notice there isn’t anything about communications in that list (though, I can argue staying ahead of the trends for the purpose of this blog and our paid content is part of vision and rainmaking).

You’ll also notice I’m talking myself into it as I write this.

If you are like me, and not great at delegation, but must do it to reach your goals, here are some tips to get there.

Five Tips to Effectively Delegate

When I got married, my mom said to me, “It doesn’t matter how he makes the bed, as long as he makes it.”

I think of that every time I go to effectively delegate. It doesn’t matter that they won’t do it the way you would do it, as long as they get it done, done well, and done on time and on budget.

Also consider the mantra of not allowing perfection to get in the way of finished.

With those two things said, you can effectively delegate by:

  • Going through your to-do list and figure out what only you can do and effectively delegate the rest. Chris Ducker has a list of 101 tasks that can be delegated to someone else.
  • Understanding the strengths (and weaknesses) of your team so you know which tasks you can effectively delegate to whom. There have been times in the past that we have wanted so badly to work with someone that we put them in a position where they absolutely cannot succeed. This is good for no one. Take the time to learn your colleagues work habits.
  • Giving them autonomy by trusting them to do the job. If you micromanage the process and want them to do it a certain way, it won’t work. When Laura Petrolino joined our team, we spent the first six months transitioning day-to-day client responsibilities to her. If a client or a colleague asked me a question, I (not always because it’s hard) would refer them to her. And then, behind the scenes, I would coach her through how to handle it, if it was new to her. Now I barely hear from her (except when she’s trolling me online to entertain all of you).
  • When asked a question about how to do something, always respond with, “What do you think?” I do this to my team and to my coaching clients. It drives everyone crazy, but it teaches them that you trust them and really do want to know what they think. It also teaches them to come to you with solutions versus questions.
  • This last one I am going to quote from a Forbes article because it’s applicable to all of us, “Avoid reverse delegation. Some team members try to give a task back to the manager, if they don’t feel comfortable, or are attempting to dodge responsibility. Don’t accept it except in extreme cases. In the long run, every team member needs to learn or leave.” I know every one of you has experienced this, on both sides. Don’t do it!

In John’s blog post, he recommends a toolkit from Mandi Ellefson. I’ve not checked it out yet so I don’t know if it’s any good, but I will. And if John says to do it, I trust him.

So there you go. What other tips do you have to effectively delegate?

image credit: shutterstock

About Gini Dietrich

Gini Dietrich is the founder and CEO of Arment Dietrich, an integrated marketing communications firm. She is the author of Spin Sucks, co-author of Marketing in the Round, and co-host of Inside PR. She also is the lead blogger at Spin Sucks and is the founder of Spin Sucks Pro. Join the Spin Sucks   community!

  • AndyDonovan

    Gini this couldn’t have been more timely if you tried.  As a newbie to the YMCA here in Oakville and after learning where the locker rooms (and how to get in them) are now am focusing on my team members and especially empowering their strengths and supporting them in areas for development.   Leaders and their team members need to read and embrace these wise words as always.

  • I had to watch an organizational video on VHS tape in 1995 when I joined an industrial parts distributor located in and industrial park in the hood in LA as inside sales. It taught me how to rank tasks from A-D because we focus on Ds because they are easy. Meanwhile I was thinking ‘Uhm the clerk at the 7-11 I got my OJ at this morning was just shot and I have to focus on A-D items’

    I add the last part because that is the ‘as long as it is done I don’t care how it gets done’ thing is. Being done is A in importance how it is done is a D (as long as it is legal and doesn’t violate any company rules…lol). Because in the end how does this all rank compared to being shot at work.

    Grats on the rocket I am going to have t come up with a new nickname for you. Just at a loss. Is there a female version of Thor somewhere? Maybe a character from Starwars. Or Kate’s role in Underworld.

  • KateNolan

    Hide so no one can find you and then they have to do it? 

    I tried to delegate my WordPress maintenance to my cat. I keep finding her sleeping on the job though…

    I’ll be more serious now. I can tell you that perfectionists (who?) have a difficult time delegating because their way is “the right way” and unless you train someone to do the task exactly your way… So that’s probably something else to work on – letting go of “my way is the only way”. If you’ve hired smart professionals they’ll find a perfectly acceptable way to accomplish the task.

  • KateNolan I saw the picture of your cat sleeping on the job last night. I think that is grounds for being fired!

    I agree with you…being a perfectionist (and, for me, extremely type A) makes it really, really hard to delegate. Remember, he may not make the bed the way you do…it’s only important that he does it.

  • Howie Goldfarb Oh my. Your profile photo.

  • AndyDonovan Couldn’t the tornadoes have shown you how to get in the locker rooms?

  • AndyDonovan

    Ha – they blew me off after they realized there was a pool for one, hot tub for two and a sauna…so yeah I’ve learned NOT TO rely on them even remembering my name when “toys” like this are in front of them.  🙂

  • AndyDonovan That’s a fair point. I can see how that might happen.

  • KateNolan

    ginidietrich Seriously, I can’t believe I let her on the payroll!

  • KateNolan I think my cats may have more success with my wordpress than me!

  • Great post, Gini, and a topic I really, really struggle with. We occasionally have home health workers here to help w/my FIL, and they are supposed to do light housekeeping as part of what we pay them (which is a hefty hourly rate). I have really found it challenging to give them work to do (and it sure isn’t because I do housework better!). Maybe it’s because I’m so busy beating a path out of the house LOL.

  • biggreenpen Here…let me help you:
    * Dishes
    * Dust
    * Sweep or vacuum
    * Clean toilets
    * Make beds
    * Laundry
    * Tidy living areas
    This is even better:

  • Trolling you online is indeed a unique benefit to the community. You also get to hear me text karaoke, which I’m sure is a very important part of your day. 

    In other news, delegation is hard….really hard. Even when you work with a great team. Some of it’s habit, some of it is Type A quirks, some of it is just….well hard! 

    However (and this JUST hit me now), one thing that I need to remember in my own delegation efforts is that the reason I found such a good fit here was because you didn’t micromanage. You supported me where and when I needed it, but I always felt that you had the confidence and trust in me to do my job, and do it well. You coached me to improve in the areas I needed to, but knowing you had confidence in me gave me that extra confidence I needed in myself to…well. live up to your (and my own) expectations. 

    So I guess this is to say, a good cue to realign how we think of delegation is to instead think of it as empowerment. It’s empowering your team to contribute the the company at their maximum ability.

  • LauraPetrolino I don’t think I get to hear you text anything. I can read it, but not hear it.

  • ginidietrich LauraPetrolino I don’t need your stupid logistics! #rainbowkiller

  • KateNolan

    LauraPetrolino ginidietrich Watch out, the Literal Police are here…

  • KateNolan LauraPetrolino ginidietrich I love the idea of delegation as empowerment. Now about that text karaoke …

  • ginidietrich and *poof!* the comments section expands to life management. Well done. I really like this graphic.

  • AndyDonovan

    ginidietrich I’ve come to accept I’m no longer “shiny” enough to attract their attention…if you need me I’ll be the one with the bank card over here when they want something.  🙂

  • biggreenpen KateNolan LauraPetrolino ginidietrich Well maybe I’ll start text karaoke you instead Paula…since *someone* (cough, cough) is too caught up in silly logistics to appreciate it

  • KateNolan ginidietrich You don’t try coaching her hard enough, Kate. Don’t give up that easy. Someday… :)))))

  • biggreenpen KateNolan What’s wrong with WP? Try other platforms, and then you’ll see how easy WP is. I am serious.
    BTW Paula, if I you have questions regarding WP, let me know. I’m happy to help.

  • Nancy Crowley

    Terrific post! This is my number one challenge. Gini, you’ve mentioned you used to have an office. Do you have a virtual team? If so, I’d love to hear more about this and how you set it up. Thanks so much. BTW, I found you through Michael Smart as I’m a member of his IC.