Systematic Excellence Podcast

SE 1: The Secrets To Delegating Effectively

Episode Summary

Many businesses sink in the first couple of years because of poor management -- usually because the head of the company wants to do everything themself and that’s not only impractical but also impossible. Delegating is the only way to progress. In this episode, you’ll learn how to delegate tasks in order to take things off your plate and finally reach that success level you’ve been working hard for.

Episode Notes

*Show Notes: *

The process of delegation is similar to the process of prioritization: letting go of tasks so that you can focus on other tasks… tasks that only you can handle. This is exactly the topic we discussed today: how to effectively delegate, the differences between tasking vs delegating, what to expect from delegating and generally, how to take stuff off your plate.

These are the topics we discussed:

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Episode Transcription

Amalie: 00:37 Welcome to the podcast today. We're going to discuss tasking vs. delegating and what the differences are. We're going to talk about how to effectively delegate and then we're going to talk about if things don't go well when you delegate tasks. I'm here with Janine and I'm going to start out just kind of discussing the difference between the two. When you are tasking, you are giving someone something to do, but the expectation is that they're coming back to you with any questions or any permissions. Those kinds of things. And when you delegate, you are giving them an outcome that you want them to achieve, right? You're saying, I want this outcome, please, do it. And generally speaking, you'll have a process in place that they need to follow in order to get that particular thing done, I want to call it a “task.” So I don't want to get confused here with tasking and task, but a task, right? So someone is given a to-do item. 

And then tasking. What's important to understand between the two is that delegation is releasing the responsibility and putting it onto the person that you've just now given the task or the to-do item to. The real important difference of tasking is that person's going to keep coming back and saying, “Oh, okay, I did this, here's this. What's the next step? I did this. Okay, what's the next step?” Whereas delegating is “I want this done.” And then they will go through all the steps that they need to go through in order to get this To-do item or this task done to get to the outcome that you've requested. So do you have anything to add to that, Janine? I mean that's how I would differentiate between the two.

Janine: 02:48 Yeah. I just to expand, well, not expand, but in another way. I mean, tasking is more somebody who's helping you with something that's within your realm of things that you need to do. They're just an extension, and that's why there's more of that interaction. Whereas with the delegating, you're literally handing something off within in a certain...

Amalie: 03:12 Ownership.

Janine: 03:13 Right? No, your hand. The thing that needs to be done, you are placing in someone else's hands and they are going to go do it. And you get the result of the task.

Amalie: 03:25 So when you're delegating, I think that you need a few things. You need to provide a few things to the person that you're delegating to. Those are resources, details, and information, things about the item, they need the resources to be able to complete it. The permission of making decisions about it -- the ownership of it. So when you delegate something, you are telling the person that they have the permission to make decisions and then making sure that you clarify that with them so that they understand that they have that. And then giving them the result, the result or the outcome that you want from that. The ultimate delegation is you tell them the outcome and then they get it done, or you give them the result that I want, and then they take the action to get that. What do you think?

Janine: 04:39 Yeah. What do you think is the biggest hangup people have with delegating?

Amalie: 04:47 I would say the permission. 

Janine: 04:50 I agree.

Amalie: 04:51 Yeah. That they struggle with giving someone permission to make decisions about a particular task or project or you know, anything like that. So you tell them to write something, they write something and then it comes back to you. But you still have to read over it and you still have to check it. But if you have a process in place where there's someone else that can proofread or check it and then it gets done, then it takes it off your plate. But if you're just tasking everything still comes back on you for approval. Everything still comes back. I think it's that ultimate approval that business owners are struggling or struggle with releasing that ultimate version before they send it out. They have to see it. And I think that that's where the bottleneck comes from.

Janine: 05:43 That's what I see too. Generally what I see is, it's coming from the business owner where they're setting up that situation and not allowing that person to go do their thing.

Amalie: 05:58 And it also sets a standard, right? So once you have your team members in a routine or in a way of doing things like that, they can always come back to you for permission to move to the next step. Like, “okay, I wrote this piece. What do I do now? Okay, I wrote this piece. What do I do now? I wrote this piece. Here it is. What do I do now?” It's really hard to break them out of that, right? Because you've set them up to be in that situation in that they're constantly coming back to you. And that's why the business owner's plate is always full: because they're not delegating their tasking, they're tasking out and then getting everything back on their plate to review it, to approve it, all of those things.

Janine: 06:44 And setting the stage for that occurs when they're onboarding these people, the new people, that's where a great deal of this should be starting with. So say, that the information and the resources that they need, they need to know what they have to do, the job they need to do and where to find it. That's a big problem because a lot of them are just files everywhere. People with personal spreadsheets, just being unorganized, is a huge problem and just make that worse when you bring new people in and they feel lost and they're frustrated because they want to do a good job. They can't find anything. I mean, most people don't want, if they're competent, they don't want to be that person that is constantly not knowing where to find things, not knowing who to ask, not sure what “right” is supposed to look like. And finding out the hard way. They don't want that. They want to do well. They want to do it right. They want to be fast and get better at what they're doing

Amalie: 07:49 I also think that business owners need to have checks and balances in place that don't include them. They need to have team members that can look at each other's stuff or have sort an org chart where the business owner’s at the top, and then you have levels of people that they have someone in the middle that can review things or see things like if they need, you know, I mean every piece of anything should have more than one set of eyes on it before it goes out. Absolutely. And I think that those checks and balances need to be in place and it shouldn't include, well, let me say the less it can include the business owner, the better. Because that will allow, then the business owner will no longer be the bottleneck. They will become the CEO versus what I would call the business owner.

Janine: 08:43 An analogy for this, it's not necessarily business, it's in medicine, but when I was training as a surgery intern and we'd go around in the evening at the end of the day on the status of all of the patients that are staying overnight in the hospital that night and all, you know, whatever things still needed to be done. The goal is pretty clear to everyone. The patients should be better the next morning than they were when the attending leaves for the night. That's pretty obvious. But the attending is there and we go through everything, the team, and there's like five levels of residents from the intern to the fifth year. So you have all these different levels of experience going on. And the attending would end with, if you need any help with anything, just give me a call, calling me as a sign of weakness and then they'd walk off. And then the chief resident would just say, “okay guys, you know, we got this”, emphasize a few of the more important points with the, you know, the more critical patients. And they'd say, “okay, well I'm going to be in the chief resident room if you need anything. You know, just let me know. Asking for help is a sign of weakness.” And they turn around and walk off it just kind of roll down hill until there's the intern standing there going, “oh, now what?” But that's probably not the best way to do it cause that's like shutting the door to add to people asking for help. But the purpose behind that was for them to think through absolutely everything they knew and could possibly do. So they weren't asking questions all the time just because they were unsure and didn't know when to let go. It's like, seriously, it's okay to, you know, refill that person's Tylenol prescription without waking up the resident in the middle of the night for that. Then at each level they, the more competence they had.

Amalie: 10:43 I think having an organized backend of your business helps with that. Like having the resources organized, having standard operating procedures that they can follow, having references, you know, loom videos, things like that that they can refer to first. But telling them and giving them the direction of, “okay, here's the project, or here's the outcome I want, here's the resources you're going to need to get it done. You have the permission to figure it out. Go and do it.” But having a solid, robust place where you have all of your documents and your standard operating procedures and things like that will help to give them, the things that they need to try to figure it out before they come with questions. One of the thing that I'd like to talk about next is what to do when there's mistakes made. So I think one of the biggest fears of business owners when they're delegating is that it won't be done right. Because it's not going to be done. And that's absolutely true. But the business owner, the responsibility of the business owner or the person that's delegating to the person that will complete the task or the project, they need to give them the resources that they need in order to do it as closely to what the business owner would do themselves. But mistakes will be made. It's going to happen. I mean, it's inevitable that it will happen. I think how the business owner deals with that is really, really crucial.

Janine: 12:33 I would actually say, take the focus off how close to the way the business owner does it that they do it and turn that onto the outcome. Because there is more than one right way to do anything. So if this person does something completely different than the way you would do it and they get the result you want to, the level of quality you want in the time you want, does it matter that it's completely different from the way you did it? It might, it might be.

Amalie: 13:06 If you want it done in that specific way, then you need to have a standard operating procedure for it. If that's how you want it done the nature of when, right. I'm just saying like if if you want it done in a specific way, then that's how, that's where a standard operating procedure comes into play because you then tell them exactly how they need to do it and there's a reference for them to follow to make sure that they are getting it done exactly how you want it done. I think that the best way to deal with something when either a mistake was made or it wasn't done exactly how you want it is to instead of just come out and say, well one, embarrass the person or you know, obviously you need to explain to them that it was done wrong, but by doing it in a negative way, people will be less likely to come to you when they've made a mistake, which can create internal stress inside your team and that they're afraid to come talk to you, which you never want to have happen. You want them to openly come and talk to you and tell you that they made a mistake, but they fixed it and if someone makes mistake, I think one of the most important things to do other than kind of addressing in a positive way, is asking them questions to get them to come up with how they should have done it or what should've been done differently instead of just telling them the answer. Ask the questions so that way next time when they're in that situation, they can figure it out for themselves and you know, and avoid being in a situation that, you know, in this situation that they got in.

Janine: 14:50 Especially when you're correcting someone after a mistake been made, part of that, setting the environment for success moving forward is leading with something they did right. Because it's rare that someone did every single step all the way along, completely wrong before it came to your attention. So you can lead with, “hey, you know, I liked how you did this, this was good, this one.” Teach them as you're explaining it. There were a couple other ways you could have done it like this, that, or the other thing. And then let's take a look at this and, and how this thing happened. And so by then they're not on guard anymore. They know you paid attention. They know that you're not just seeing the one thing that went wrong and not the 99 things they did well.

Amalie: 15:46 And then asking them, you know, how they could have done differently, what could have been done or what should have been done right. To help them process that so that way next time maybe it can be avoided.

Janine: 15:57 Yeah. And depending on the extent of whatever the thing is that they're working on, having those checkpoints along the way so nothing gets too far off track and you can give little nudges of guidance to keep them on the track that you want them on, instead of waiting for something to completely derail before you come in and swoop in and rescue them. It's better to just keep them on track.

Amalie: 16:24 Right. And then they can have, like I said, the checks and balances in place to have some of the other team members, or having someone that manages them, that's between the CEO and the person that's doing the task. You know, having that person in a sort of middle management or something to help to make sure that they are on track, which again allows the business owner to be a little more removed from the day to day operations, which is most of the time what I hear business owners say that really brings them down or is weighing them down or taking up most of their time, is the day to day operations, is managing those.

Janine: 17:08 Yeah. And they have a hard time letting go of that. I think I had a situation with a very, very young, NCO who is running my clinic. He's in charge of the operations. I had to be very clear with him, like, “it is your job to run the operations. It is my job to make sure that you have what you need in order to do that. So when you run up against something such that you can't get the outcome that we're looking for, that's when you come to me, it's not a failure on your part.” And if I'm really doing my job, I'm seeing what you're doing and I'm anticipating these things, so I'm getting what you need as or before you need them.

Amalie: 17:55 Well I just want to recap what we talked about. So we discussed the difference between task and delegating and ultimately where we want to, where we focused our time is that delegating gives the person who is completing the task, to-do item or project, the permission to make decisions about that project, that to-do item, or that task. That is one of the biggest differences, that you have asked them for a specific result or outcome and they are off and running and getting to that. Then we've talked about the things that they need in order to delegate effectively, which is giving them or having a place for them to find the resources or information they need to complete the item; permission to make the decisions about it. And then giving them the result that you want. That's ultimately how delegating is done. You delegate by giving them an outcome. “Okay, I want this completed, you know, I want this result.” And then they go and do that. Then we just talked about how it's important to, if mistakes are made, (because they will be made) that you addressed it in a positive way, starting with what they did right. And then letting them, by asking them questions, help them to get to the point of realizing themselves what they did. What could have been done differently in order to achieve the correct result or helping them figure out what they could have done differently in order to be able to problem solve on their own without having to come to the business owner every single time a mistake is made. They’ll be able to recognize it, catch it before there is a mistake. They'll be able to improve their own process when they're going through and doing it. Anything else that I missed that we went over today?

Janine: 20:22 No, no, this is great. This one thing is probably the single biggest bottleneck for so many business owners. It sounds simple, but it's something that you have to apply over and over to each of the people on your team and each of the things that you're delegating as you're doing it, until everyone, including yourself, is proficient at it. And it will just set you free and set them free to go on and do great things.

Amalie: 20:59 We hope you enjoyed this episode of the podcast. You can find out more about Janine and Systematic Excellence at and you can find out more about, me, Amalie at

Janine: 21:13 If you did enjoy this episode, please subscribe, leave a review, and share them with people you think may find it helpful. This goes a long way in helping us reach and serve as many people as possible. Thanks so much for listening. We'll see on the next episode.