The 16 Ways to Screw Up Delegation

We've all been there. Trying to make our work-lives more efficient, transfer knowledge to newer team members, and leverage our practices. Sometimes it works, and sometimes, well, the result is embarrassing at best.

Here are a few ways to recognize you might not have done the very best job ever in delegating your work—or having it delegated to you. Any sound familiar?

  1. Forgetting to specify a deadline for the project.
  2. Forgetting to specify the actual deliverable.
  3. Expecting your intern to produce a magnificently polished piece of work.
  4. Expecting your boss to forgive you for mistakes someone else made.
  5. Forgetting to put your name on your delegatee's work when the end result is something you're proud to be associated with.
  6. Forgetting to take your name off your delegatee’s work when you'd like to distance yourself from it with a 10-foot pole.
  7. Giving ridiculously detailed instructions, leaving no piece of the project to chance, creativity or use of delegatee's actual talent, which ends up taking you more time than it would have to do the project to begin with.
  8. Giving minimal (i.e., "no") instructions, then getting mad when your delegatee doesn't execute it the way you thought it would be.
  9. Forgetting to make sure your delegatee actually knows the purpose of the project you've asked him or her to do.
  10. Forgetting to make sure you actually know the purpose of the project you just delegated.
  11. Checking in only when the project is due to make sure the delegatee is going to turn it in on time.
  12. Checking in as soon as you've given the project to your delegatee to make sure he or she is doing it exactly the way you had instructed them to in step 7 above. Checking in again 20 minutes later to make sure the font is correct, and again five more minutes later because the text alignment absolutely needs to be to the top of each cell. Not that I've ever done that.
  13. Spending four hours writing review notes and comments and using Track Changes rather than actually talking to your delegatee.
  14. Spending four hours agonizing over why you thought delegating was a good idea in the first place.
  15. Spending four hours drinking because you know you can't make your deadline now anyway.
  16. Spending four hours between 5 a.m. and 9 a.m. redoing the entire project and dreaming of a vacation far, far away.

The good news is, we recently uncovered some ways to delegate effectively. Check them out on the replay or download the slides  of Four Steps to Delegating Effectively. No time? Check out the Tip Sheet.

About the author:

Kristen Rampe is a CPA who loves helping other CPAs develop great teams and great customers. She provides consulting and customized, in-house CPE to professional service firms in the areas of client service, communication, and team building. Check out her blog for great ideas on how to improve your practice! kristenrampe.com/blog.


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