Improving Delegation


Delegation: Let’s keep it simple.

  1. Find someone who will accept responsibility for the desired outcome.
  2. Explain that you do not have the time and/or expertise to design the solution.
  3. Ask the person to propose an approach which you have some confidence (not certainty) will succeed with the resources agreed to, e.g., hours, budget, tools, deadline, etc.
  4. Don’t abdicate, delegate: follow-up frequently on progress and impediments to show that you still value the outcome, perhaps using something like my progress report format.

“Give as few orders as possible,” his father Duke Leto had told him… once… long ago. “Once you’ve given orders on a subject, you must always give orders on that subject.”

Dune by Frank Herbert
p. 628 Penguin Publishing Group

Which tasks should you delegate? See this post, 3 Ds of Delegation



You can’t manage time, so manage your priorities



The most valuable time management skill is recognizing the important tasks and ignoring the rest. I first observed it early in my consulting career, at Arthur Andersen & Co in New York, after a meeting with my manager and our client, the Vice President of a large energy company. After the client left, my manager and I reviewed the meeting and planned our tasks. I mentioned one of the client’s requests from my notes and asked, “How are we going to do this?” I was shocked by his reply, “Don’t worry about that.”

“What do you mean?” I replied, “He specifically asked us to do that.”

“I know, but trust me, It’ll go away.” He was right. That task was never mentioned again and the client was entirely pleased with our work.

Not taking on everything you could do or want to do is the only way to reserve resources for the key activities.



Where did the time go? Your mind lost it.



John P. RobinsonAmericans today have plenty of time for leisure, says Professor John Robinson. Robinson is Professor of Sociology at the University of Maryland and Director of the Americans’ Use of Time Project.

What [Robinson] does not dispute is that people think they have no time. “It’s very popular, the feeling that there are too many things going on, that people can’t get in control of their lives,” he says. “But when we look at people’s diaries, there just doesn’t seem to be the evidence to back it up. It’s a paradox. When you tell people they have (more…)

Do more with less…stress



Benjamin FranklinI was listening to a clever and timely story on NPR this morning about the renewed prevalence of the hackneyed imperative, “Do more with less.” This is widely interpreted as a demand for longer hours to compensate for reduced budget and staff. My executive coaching clients, in contrast, report growth in income and profits while working fewer days and shorter, more flexible hours. Two keys are reducing stress and misdirected energy.

I was very pleased when the NPR reporter revealed the original form of the phrase from Benjamin Franklin’s Autobiography, “by diligence shall we do more with less perplexity. … as we read in Poor Richard, who adds, drive thy business, let not that drive thee.”

Great advice, then as now.



Time Management = Self-Management



I found more evidence of just how much we lost when Carnegie Mellon professor Randy Pausch died. Today, while revising my executive coaching materials on goal setting and time management, a colleague mentioned that Randy Pausch was most proud of his talk on time management.


Randy Pausch on time management at UVA
We are in the midst of a famine,
a prolonged, widespread deficit of a resource
essential to life: productive time.


Pausch’s talk is a thorough and entertaining presentation of the essentials and I highly recommend it for my executive coaching clients (though I can not agree with every suggestion). You may have heard much of it before, but Professor Pausch’s celebrity, good humor, and excellent example give it tremendous impact. You will do something different and better as a result of watching.


• Record and priority rank your tasks to reduce stress

• Batch your tasks, questions, and communications by person

• Schedule blocks of time adequate for the task

• Avoid interruptions and distractions


The video and the PowerPoint slides, along with lots of other Pausch material, are available here.

Watching this talk may leave you with a big question, especially if the advice is familiar. “Why am I not doing these things despite the knowing that they work?” That gap, the mystery between what we know and what we practice, is my domain: executive coaching.