There are 2 ways that you can allocate work. You can give orders, or you can enrol people.

Orders:

This is most people’s default way of delegating work. To do it well, you speak to the person involved, give them sufficient context, and enough detail that they can get the job done to your specifications.

Pros:

  • Appropriate for outsourcing of very specific tasks to free you up to do other things
  • Good for if you have a new employee you’re still not sure you trust to do things their own way

Cons:

  • Their main goal will be to not make a mistake, rather than get an optimum outcome
  • People will only do enough to not get in trouble, as micromanagement can be a disincentive for going above and beyond (as they’re more likely to make a mistake if they go off-script)
  • They feel no ownership of the task, as they’re just an extension of you
  • The best possible outcome is the one you envisaged, no better

Enrolment:

This is trickier but has a huge payoff if done correctly. Instead of giving them extremely specific instructions about both what to do and how to do it, you instead describe the problem that needs to be solved, give a recommendation for how you would solve it, but also the assurance that if they think of a better way, they should go for it. It can also help to give them resources to call upon if they hit a roadblock. Once enrolled (i.e. once you’re convinced they care and are on board), they will put the full power of their intellect behind it, and if you have good people, you should get a great outcome.

Pros:

  • People have the same goal as you
  • They feel ownership of the problem, and personal achievement for its success
  • They feel valued
  • If they are smarter than you or have a better idea than you, you can end up with a better result than you could originally envisage
    • Since you hire specialists who are great at certain things… you’d hope that they’re better than you are at their job, or you’re probably not hiring the right people
  • Appropriate for any task that really matters

Cons:

  • Generally not appropriate for new starters who don’t yet understand your business
  • May require some early input from you to make sure they’re on a path you can be on board with
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