Learning is obviously an important topic on this site and while there are many methods to learn, one that is often thought of only in business is delegation. I think delegation has a lot of negative associations in the workplace because people see it not as a learning tool, but as a way to pass the buck. A way for a boss to unload their work on you. I hope to change that impression and look at why delegation is an amazing learning tool!

Learning with Delegation

Delegation is when you engage others to take on responsibility or actions that you would have done otherwise. Those actions are often things others could easily do. Sometimes they need a little guidance or perhaps a lot more than that before being comfortable with doing it themselves. Whatever the circumstance is, there is room for someone to learn some new skills and for the person delegating to learn from teaching. That process may take minutes, it might take months, it just depends on what and who is involved, but there is always some room to learn for both parties.

I’m not going to go into details with each step on how to delegate (at least not today) but the process looks basically like this:

  1. Identify something that someone else could do that you currently do yourself
  2. Pick someone who is able to take on that new delegation
  3. Discuss and make clear that you need that persons help and give them the reasons you picked them
  4. Describe what you would like them to do and what the benefits are (personally, for the organization, etc)
  5. Have them paraphrase and repeat in there own words to ensure they understand
  6. Brainstorm any resources or training needed and who can provide that
  7. Plan some actions to get started
  8. Agree on how to report back on the delegation

This whole process can be simple and open the door to teach something you are already competent at, and to have someone else learn from you. If you are not in a position to delegate you can definitely ask your boss or even other colleagues if there is something they could delegate to you to help take it off their plate. There is almost ALWAYS something they would love you to do and its a great learning opportunity. Swamped with work already? Ask your boss if there is something they can delegate to you and discuss what YOU can delegate to someone else to free some time.

Delegation is useful as a learning tool between peers as well and if you find someone interested in learning the same way, you can often swap delegation with each other to each practice and to learn something new.

Get Out of Your Own Way!

How many times have you said or heard that people don’t delegate because they don’t have time! This is ridiculous as delegation is the ultimate time saver. Its also the ultimate tool to learning new things in a couple of ways. Most of the time, you are doing what you already know how to do. Those are the tasks you learn the least from and while you may be good at them, if that’s all you do, you can’t spend much time learning. To keep learning and have time for learning, you need to stop doing the things you are already good at and make time for learning new things. Delegation is perfect for this to free up your own time to help you master your skills by teaching them to someone else. I relate this highly to getting out of your comfort zone and taking on new things, all of which are learning opportunities. Look for these chances to delegate, stop doing ONLY the things you are already good at, and quit getting in your own way from learning!

Others Want You to Delegate to Them

I’ve written before about not being afraid to ask others for help and that is the best way to delegate something, by asking. People are afraid to delegate because they think it means telling someone else what to do. That is not delegation at all. The other persons needs to understand why you are asking them and have their own motivation to helping you. Perhaps they will learn something new, perhaps because they are better at doing it than you, perhaps they might advance in the company by taking on more responsibility, whatever the reasons, they need to be motivated and willing to take it on. If you ask, instead of tell you can get around that. You need to be willing to assist if its needed for anything you delegate as well.

Delegation Outside of Business

Delegation is really about accountability and so it’s useful outside of an authoritative position or business position as well. If you always look at asking for help and explaining why you’re asking and ensuring that person is motivated to help, delegation is just as effective outside of business. This might be with your friends, family or colleagues in a volunteer or non-profit organization, they all work the same way. The human component of delegation is the teaching, the responsibility and the accountability to each other. There needs to be a clear line of responsibility so that both parties know what each other will do and help with and that there is joint accountability to each do their own part in the process. The opportunity to learn from each other is just as likely whether its in business or not.

I’ll be expanding on this delegation process in a few days to help you put this into practice. If you haven’t yet subscribed to new content here on LearnThis.ca you can do so here in RSS and here by email .

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