Delegation: What do I give, what do I keep?

Last week, I talked about why we delegate. Great, now we’re sold! But what do we delegate and when?

Not every task can be delegated. Before simply handing off a task (especially menial ones), consider whether you can eliminate it in the first place completely. If it doesn’t need to be done, then we do not need to be losing time (and money) by having someone else do it. A necessity is not always one, and it may not need a human to do it. There may be an automated system that can be put in place instead or as with many admin tasks that take up your day aren’t necessary. Make each task justify the time it costs.  

To help when delegation is most appropriate, ask yourself the following questions: 

  • Is this action even necessary? What goal is achieved by this being completed?  
  • If the task has no or minimal value, then it should be eliminated, not delegated. Why should money and resources be spent by someone else to do it if it doesn’t need to be done? 
  • Always look to eliminate it before you delegate. 
  • Does this task require a specific skill set? Is that specific skill set mine? 
  • Is this a repeating task? If so, will it save me time in the long term to train someone to do it? If not, will it take more time to explain than to do? 
  • Is it small and discrete? These tasks are minor things that only take a small amount of time to complete but accumulate over time.  
  • Is it tedious? Tedious tasks are mindless tasks that require little skill. 
  • Is it able to be broken down? Are there components that can be considered one of the above?  
  • Are you not particularly good at the activity? Or is someone else exceptionally good at it or like it? 

If you answer ‘yes’ to any of the above questions, then that task is a prime candidate for delegation. 

Jenny Blake created the 6T mnemonic for this as detailed in this Harvard Business Review article:  

Delegate tasks that are: 

  • Tiny 
  • Tedious 
  • Time-Consuming 
  • Teachable 
  • Terrible 
  • Time-Sensitive