Knowing when to delegate tasks is a key leadership skill. To help improve your ability to delegate the right job at the right time I'm going to talk about Vince Clarke and Alison Moyet. Both multi million selling artists as individuals and to my mind, both underrated and overlooked.
If you split Vince Clarke open he’d have the word POP running through him like a stick of rock. He was early Depeche Mode’s sole songwriter and later formed pop behemoths Erasure.
Fronted by the uber camp Andy Bell, Erasure dominated the charts for years, selling over 28 million records and ensuring that my dad threw things at the telly every time they were on Top Of The Pops.
Alison Moyet rose like a phoenix from the ashes of punk to become one of the UK’s most successful and well respected solo artists; 20 million records sold and counting.
Her albums are threaded with warm and witty lyrics and she’s rightly lauded for delivering moving, sublime performances - her luxurious voice drips honey with every word.
And way back in the early 1980s these two powerhouses tangled together as a short lived electronic duo called Yazoo.
You remember Yazoo right? An unlikely pairing of Moyet’s warm soul vocals over Clarke’s synth pop strains, they scored a smash hit with the mighty Only You.
“Looking from a window above,
It's like a story of love
Can you hear me . . ?”
Covered by countless others, including Kylie, The 1975 and the Flying Pickets (whose version was crowned the 1983 Christmas number one no less) Only You is one of those yearning, evergreen classics that everyone knows.
Even if you think you don’t know it, you do. I’m telling you. It’s in the ether.
And the reason we’re talking about Yazoo today is because I’ve paired their synth pop soul classic with four stages of delegation and created a useful and hopefully memorable management model.
If you enjoyed the elegant simplicity of the Meat Loaf Triangle you’re sure to cry tears of joy over . . . The Yazoo Onion.
It’s a simple four step tool that can improve work effectiveness, prioritisation and delegation. Here’s a recent picture of it:
Why You Making Me Work So Hard?
When there’s a job to be done too many people start with the wrong question. They say to themselves:
“How should I go about this?”
“How long should I allocate for this?”
“When should I tackle this?”
The problem with each of those questions is the word “I”.
The first thing you should be asking is “Who should be doing this job?”
Knowing When To Delegate Tasks
I go into all myriad benefits of proper delegation on my, well, delegation training course. Who'd a thunk it?
There are many many reasons leaders should be delegating but aren’t. That’s for another day but take my word for it - you should be delegating.
To keep this thought front and centre I suggest to people that they buy a mug like this one and sit it on their desk as a visual reminder.
Every time they consider tackling a job they should automatically look at the mug and it will remind them to ask “Who should be doing this job?”
In order to discover who the task belongs to we can consider the layers of the Yazoo Onion in turn.
I Try To Discover
There are four distinct layers and you want to start at the outer layer. Keep the jobs you’re delegating as far away from you as possible.
1 - Others: At this level the tasks are jobs that can be done by other people. They don’t need any input from you whatsoever. If someone else can do the job you should give it to them.
2 - Others + You: Here we’ve got jobs that others can do but they might need a bit of input from you. Perhaps it’s some guidance or advice or you get to supervise something but note that the job doesn’t belong to you.
3 - You + Others: Peeling back to this layer we’re now looking at tasks that lie at your door. But recognise that elements of the job can be done by others. Can you expand these elements?
4 - Only You: Now you can hear Alison singing! And Vince’s plinky plonky keyboard! That’s because you’re at the very centre of the Yazoo Onion. You’ve considered all the options and come to the realisation that there is no one else better placed, or skilled or simply able to do this job than you. In fact, no one else can do this job - Only You.
The Yazoo Onion is a quick, easy to use diagnostic tool that will help you to consider work allocation, prioritise effectively and delegate more evenly. Enjoy peeling back its layers and exploring the different options it uncovers.
Give A Little Respect, Tooooooo Meeeeeeeeee
It can show you things that you didn’t know and wouldn't have imagined. For example, I've learned that unloading the dishwasher is an Only You task.
It was surprising to learn this but local empirical evidence clearly shows that my daughters aren’t capable of emptying the flipping thing so it must be a task that sits at the very centre of the Yazoo Onion. #delegationfail
“This is going to take a long time . . .”
Stay connected with news and updates!
Join Iain's mailing list to receive the latest Top Tips every Friday. As a subscriber you'll always be the first to read it, BEFORE it makes it to the blog. Plus you'll get the latest news and offers.
Iain hates SPAM. He will never sell your information, for any reason.