5 August 2019
Is there anything worse than entrusting someone with a project and them letting you down? You look a fool, they certainly don’t look great, and the task is back on your to-do list with added pressure. The job of a manager, hey!
However, it doesn’t have to be that way.
Undoubtedly, one of the greatest challenges as a leader or manager is knowing who you can entrust with a project, knowing it will delivered on time and to an excellent standard. Invariably, delegating is hard when you are passionate about your business or a project, and it’s all too easy to say you’ll do it yourself. But do you have the capacity and, just as importantly, are you the best person for the job?
If you’re reading a post about delegating, I would guess that your answer to both of these questions is no. So how do you solve the problem?
If you want something doing, ask a busy person.
This phrase was reportedly said by Benjamin Franklin but has been misquoted and reattributed far and wide across the internet. Whoever it was that said it, they have a point! The phrase may be almost paradoxical but it is true.
I was chatting with someone just the other day about this, and when they said that phrase – if you want something doing, ask a busy person – it really made me wonder. Why on earth would you give someone who is already seemingly busy, more to do? Why not entrust the project to the person twiddling their thumbs?
As with any conundrum these days, my first port of call was Google. That led me to an article by Fast Company, an excerpt of which reads:
Just look at volunteering statistics. You might think that people with jobs, and people with kids, would be less likely to volunteer than those without such claims on their time. But in reality, volunteering rates are higher for the employed than those not in the workforce, and parents are more likely to volunteer than non-parents.
The flywheel is spinning
So, busy people are more likely to volunteer the tiny portion of ‘spare time’ they have, as opposed to people who have ample free time.
That comes as no surprise; this is something that I have seen time and again in business. When I offer out a challenge, I can guarantee that it is the people who already have a lot on their plates who are the first to offer to take the new project on board.
In general, these busy folk are more reliable too – that’s why they’re busy. People entrust tasks to them because they deliver time and again. And, somehow they are great at reshuffling their workload to accommodate whatever it is that you need completing.
Perhaps it is because the flywheel is already spinning, they have momentum and movement. A moving things is more likely to keep moving, than if it were at a standing start.
However, of course, there is a word of warning. It is important not to overload someone, delegating to them simply because they are reliable. Equally, look out for the age-old ‘busy fools’ who are so busy being busy that they completely fail to be productive!