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How To Delegate Effectively Using This Simple Tool

delegation kw
Knowing When To Delegate Tasks

Knowing when to delegate tasks is a key leadership skill. It's one of the best time management skills there is. To help improve your ability to delegate the right job at the right time and to better manage your workload I'm going to talk about Vince Clarke and Alison Moyet. No really! 

Every time you need to delegate I want you to think about them. It will quickly become clear why they are an important part of the delegation process. 

I'm going to give you some top tips to help you delegate, to think carefully about when delegation occurs and how to take the necessary steps to improve your skill set but first let's jump back to the early 1980s!


Effective Delegation

Vince Clarke and Alison Moyet are both multi million selling artists as individuals, and to my mind, both underrated and overlooked. And believe it or not they really are going to help improve your management essentials and teach us how to delegate effectively. Every time you delegate!

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.


Learning To Delegate

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 memorable effective delegation model.


A Successful Delegation 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 productivity, prioritisation and help to effectively delegate work to your team members. Here’s a recent picture of it:

The Yazoo Onion: A Model To Delegate Tasks Effectively


Delegate Responsibility

When there’s a job to be done I'm sure you want to do good work but 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 to get the desired outcome?”

The problem with each of those questions is the word “I”.

Here's a top tip for managers: the first thing you should be asking is “Who should be doing this job?” You need to immediately consider who you will assign tasks to. The work will get done but successful delegation is the management skill required to ensure the right people are doing the right tasks. By giving work to others 

If you're being an effective leader then a key part of your skillset is to ensure you've delegated your work and given members of your team opportunities to become a better colleague.


Knowing When To Delegate A Task

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. If there's one area of professional development that you should hone is how to delegate tasks effectively.

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.


Who should be doing this job?

Who Should I Delegate To?

 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. Each layer will help us to understand which tasks to delegate. 


Tips For Managers

There are lots of different ways to delegate well but the Yazoo Onion is one of the simplest. It has four distinct layers and you want to start at the outer layer. The key thing in the delegation process is asking yourself "Do I need to complete this job?" If not, then it really should become someone else's work. Delegate tasks to your team and keep the jobs you’re delegating as far away from you as possible.

1 - Delegate To Others:

At this level the tasks are jobs that can be done by other people. They don’t need any input from you whatsoever. It might be simple type of work or time-consuming tasks, something that If someone else can do the job you should give it to them. From an organizational perspective learning to delegate jobs like these should be a simple choice - lots of other people could tackle tasks like these so ensure you delegate the task to someone else. When you assign the work it doesn't mean that you're simply dumping work but that you've given work to someone who can complete the task and who might develop new skills. 

2 - Delegate To 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 to show how certain tasks are done. Or you might have to advise how work is completed or you get to supervise specific tasks that might take longer  but note that the job doesn’t belong to you.

3 - You + Delegate To 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? Do you need to give clear instructions or advice about the desired results. Are you presenting opportunities for new managers to be involved in important work?

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. Out of all the tasks and responsibilities that have come your way you are going to assign work to yourself now. This is no time to delegate. This work is important, needs to be done correctly and in fact, no one else can do this job - Only You.

If you follow these four steps you will have improved your delegation skills no end. 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. Using it means you've delegated work effectively. Who knows it could become your favourite project management tool.

Learn How To Delegate

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 - it seems that this is one of the tasks they're unable to master. I've handed this task over before but it looks like I'll have to take the work back!

I've run out of people to delegate to and I don't want to be guilty of micromanaging so it must be a task that sits at the very centre of the Yazoo Onion. Responsibility for the task is mine alone! #delegationfail

“This is going to take a long time . . .”



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