Delegation Strategies for the Recovering Control Freak

True confessions – this used to be one of my biggest struggles as a recovering perfectionist. I would be appointed to carry out a project – whether it be a big one or little didn’t matter. I would have people around me who were fully capable of making everything work, getting things done, and probably managing the project themselves.

I knew they were capable, but instead of delegating, I tried to do everything myself? If that sounds like you, also, let me share that there really is a better way to get things done.

Before you tell me you feel you can do the job better yourself, or there’s not enough time to train someone else to do the job, or you will probably have to redo it anyway, let me tell you that I’ve heard all the excuses already and they won’t hold up. Most of the excuses probably came out of my own mouth.

You can argue that you tried to delegate tasks in the past, but it was late, or the quality of work wasn’t good enough to suit you so you ended up redoing everything. You can even say that there’s no sense in delegating tasks in the first place if you know you’ll end up redoing them. Well, I’m not buying those excuses either.

I get it. Delegating tasks can be so difficult for some people. (Been there, done that.) Your typical control freaks act like a micro-manager who ensures that they see, do, and be everything. It’s hard for them to let others share the load or the glory. I used to be that person. Maybe the control-freak is you, too.

So, what can be done? Here are some things to consider

Face the truth – it’s not all about you. If you feel you can do the job better yourself, take time to think things through. Other people may not do the job the same way you would, but that doesn’t mean they won’t do it right.
 The people on your team may be eager to do a great job and need only your encouragement, rather than for you to take over.

Things work out better when you share your knowledge and expertise. Perhaps those working with you do need some additional help. This shouldn’t be a reason to do everything yourself. Look at the need for additional training as a means to be better prepared in the future. Short-term training now can have a huge pay off later on. If you take the time to share your knowledge now, everyone will be better prepared for the next project.

Relax. There’s no sense in letting pressure for perfection bring you undue stress. While perfection might be your goal, it may not be the most efficient use of your time. There are other things that need to get done, so why not work together and get this done as a group in a way that meets the needs of the project.

Get real with yourself. It’s just not possible for you to do everything yourself, nor should you want to.
 If you continually take on all the responsibility, a couple things might happen. First, your team will find something better to day, and second you may become so tired and/or burned out that you can’t go on.

Make and follow a plan. If you’re responsible for the end product, and certain tasks are critical for its success, you may want to pay more attention to the critical tasks – maybe even doing some of them yourself. However, the more routine tasks can be passed along to other people on the team who are already competent in those areas.

When you delegate, remember to delegate the task itself, not the way in which it’s completed. 
For example, if you are assigned to produce an important report, assign tasks based on strengths. Perhaps you could let one person do research, assign converting raw data into a spreadsheet to another person, and designate a good writer to write the rough drafts. You can still be responsible for the final report by overseeing the process of pulling all the data together into a solid finished project.

When you delegate, that doesn’t mean you no longer monitor the progress. Require progress reports at specified deadlines over the course of the project. If someone is having problems meeting the deadlines, instead of assuming it’s not going to get done, ask if there’s anything you can do to help meet the next deadline.

Set the expectation at the start of the project. Expect that your team will do a great job and you won’t be disappointed. People usually rise to our expectations.

Finally, give praise and positive feedback – both along the way, and when the project is finished.

Instead of being a control-freak on your next project, decide right now to let go of some of the responsibilities. Look for ways you can use the talents of your those around you in the future. You may find that working as a team and delegating tasks makes your job much easier and accomplishing what needs to be done much better for everyone.

Find your purpose – find your joy!

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Did you find a few more ideas of your own? If so, I’d love to hear about them in the comments, and as always please reach out with your thoughts.

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