You want to get shit done, right?

But what if you, personally, don’t have time or talent to do ALL the shit yourself?

I know you don’t. But if you own the football, you can hand it off.

There are only two ways to delegate.


 1. Delegate specific actions.

Tell the delegee what actual literal physical action you’d like them to take. Using their bodies. Physically.

I mean this. Write (or say) clear step-by-step instructions, like the ones that came with your Ikea furniture, so that your delegee will know EXACTLY what you want from them.

If you don’t know what actual action they should take with their actual bodies, sorry, you can’t delegate. You’re just not ready.

Figure out the actions first.

And give a deadline.

Don’t say: “Look, a thing I wrote. Thoughts?”

“Thoughts?” is not an action, and you gave no deadline. Shit’s not getting done.

Instead, say: “Take this file, read it and change whatever you don’t like. Please put it in my inbox when you’re done. Do it by Friday.”

That shit’s getting done.

2. Delegate responsibility.

If you don’t know just what actions you’d like them to take and you’re too busy (or too lazy) to decide, you can also hand off responsibility instead of action.

In this case, just tell your delegee the problem you want solved. Then let them solve it any way they want.

That second part is key: If you hand off responsibility, you must hand off authority as well. Don’t separate the two unless you’re going for the Despot of the Year award. Don’t put someone in charge and then not let them be in charge. You’ll crush the personhood right out of them.

Whoever is responsible must also call the shots. If you won’t say just what you want them to do, you must let them decide. No in-betweens.

So delegate authority.

But go ahead and say where that authority begins and ends.

And give a deadline.

Don’t say: “You’re in charge of getting a new printer. No, not that one. No, not that one either. Boy, you’re bad at this!”

Instead, say: “Please suggest which printer we should buy. Don’t buy it yet; just bring me your suggestion so I can approve it or respond to it. I don’t care how you do the research, but I’d love to hear your pick by Friday.”

That shit’s getting done.