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4 Ways to Delegate Well to Create More Time & Wealth


1.Pay by the Job, not the Hour. Paying by the hour rewards the wrong thing.  What difference does it make to you how long it takes someone to do the job?  You just want it done well and on deadline.  The better they are, the faster it will go.  Why punish someone for that?

Admittedly, some tasks do not lend themselves to “job” rates. I was recently doing some hiring on Upwork and noticed when I selected to pay “by the job” I got contractors who resisted.  They said they were not comfortable with that option.  When I inquired further, one said he had had people in the past who asked for a zillion modifications to a bidded job at a bidded price, trying to circumvent paying for all the modifications.  That is the wrong use of a good system.

What Are You Paying For?

I paid Fede hourly because I trusted her not to waste time and the tasks varied constantly in difficulty and time.  So, I chose the hourly method.  But typically, you should reluctantly pay by the hour; preferably pay by the job.

When you hire someone, you are primarily paying for an intangible: their expertise or, as in Fede’s case, her trustworthiness.  You are hiring someone secondarily for their time.  So pay for what you want:  an outcome, not a set of hours on a task.  Paying by the job rewards the right thing.

2/ Always Give a Timeline.  “Woz” (the other ½ of Apple’s foundation) still speaks of being amazed by completing a task assigned to him in the early days by Steve Jobs.  “Woz” (officially known as Steve Wozniak) thought it was impossible to do what Jobs was asking in the time frame allowed.  To “Woz’s” utter amazement (thanks to the insistence and pressure from Jobs), “Woz” brought it in on time.  Sometimes having a grand vision to do things in crazy amounts of time can be very motivating.

In defense of this strategy, it is true that tasks often expand to fill the time allotted.  But it is also true that requiring too much of someone in too short a period of time can build resentment.   (Remember “Woz” and Jobs already had a good working relationship.)

You Want It When?

I first saw the comic at a print shop I frequented.  The cartoon character was holding his belly rolling on the floor laughing.  The caption underneath said, “You want it when?”  Beside the cartoon sign was another one that read, “You can have it right or you can have it quick.”

There is some truth to this line of thinking too.  More than once I have allowed “whatever time it takes” to get it right.  Not every job requires this and sometimes it is my own perfectionism that drives this rather than the actual need.  I readily admit that. (I am getting better, really! ;-))

A Good Strategy

A good strategy to circumvent making a time line too long or too short for the “delegatee” is to build the timeline together.  You will refine this art of setting deadlines, but start there.  You will get better and better at setting timelines that are both reasonable and challenging, but always have one.

3. Decide if You are Delegating Outcome, Method or Both

“Start with the End in Mind.”  This strategy was made famous by Stephen Covey.  In delegation, it is important to communicate explicitly the outcome you are after.

Decide if the method to get to that outcome matters to you (or if it is somehow central to the outcome).  If it is, you will need to communicate the method AND the outcome.  If not, leave the method/process to the person to whom you are delegating.  General Patton (who should know something about leadership) said, “Never tell people how to do things. Tell them what to do and they will surprise you with their ingenuity.”

Method, Outcome or Both?

I have found that leaving the method to people only belongs to pros and people who have worked with me for awhile.  For newbies, not communicating the method often creates more anxiety and performance pressure that is needed.  Ease their mind and explain exactly what you expect in all facets of the job.

4. Inspect What You Expect. This is one of the most recognized axioms of delegation.  “Follow through” is needed from both you and the person you hired.  Inspecting what you expect does two things: 1) It gives people feedback along the way–a valuable time saver.  This allows correction to take place when adjustments are still minor.  Most importantly, it allows the “delegatees” to know if they are on target with your expectations.

The Second Value

Secondly, this practice establishes accountability.  It is just human nature to let go what we know we can let go.  If people you hire know they will be held accountable, they will be more inclined to deliver.  But if someone knows that you do not “inspect” what you expect, don’t be surprised if the job goes on and on and the outcomes are never delivered.  Clearly communicate expectations and outcomes and then hold everyone accountable (including yourself).

To Delegate Well, Do These 4 Things:

  1. Pay by the Job, not the Hour
  2. Always Give a Timeline
  3. Decide if You are Delegating Outcome, Method or Both
  4. Inspect What You Expect

In the process, you will develop leadership, communication, and time management skills—just like Jobs, “Woz,” and Patton.



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