“Do a job once around here, and it’s yours for life.” My husband and I often say this jokingly to one another. Yet we’ve all experienced it at some point in our lives. It happens frequently at the office – especially if you are competent and efficient at getting the “one off” task completed the first time you are asked. Next thing you know, you’re doing it all of the time! Worse yet, word spreads that you helped this person with their task and suddenly, new faces are showing up at your desk asking if you can help them with their tasks, too. This can become a huge drain on your personal productivity!
As administrative assistants, it’s in our nature to be helpful. It’s an admirable and coveted quality at the office. The challenge comes when our quest to be helpful gets taken advantage of and begins to impact our own work quality and timeliness. Sometimes we have to hit reset and establish new boundaries in our work relationships and the tasks we take on. Many times that means delegating tasks back to their rightful owners. And it may be easier to do than you think!
How, you ask? Procedures!
Throughout my career, I’ve frequently taken on other people’s tasks. At first, I didn’t mind doing the extra expense reports. They were fun! I enjoyed being “needed” to set up the video conferencing when the executives were gathering in the conference room for their weekly meetings. I didn’t mind helping my colleagues get their envelopes and labels fed correctly into the manual feed tray when they summoned me for help. Over time, though, I was getting busier and busier with bigger projects and taking on more responsibility at the request of my executives. The projects I was working on were a much higher priority than doing expense reports for every member of my department – especially when they were more than capable of doing them on their own.
The problem was that I had enabled them into thinking their expense reports were my responsibility when they weren’t. And when I wasn’t getting their expense reports completed in the timeframe they expected, it became a problem. To remedy it, I had to re-establish boundaries and set them up for success by providing them with a documented procedure on how to do their own expense reports. For some, that sheet of paper with the step-by-step instructions was perfect. Others needed me to sit down with them and show them what to do as they followed along on the procedure. But the end result was the same: they could do their own expense reports quicker than me because they were armed with a procedure to follow.
I did the same thing in the conference room for setting up the weekly video conferencing sessions. I printed the step-by-step instructions and placed them in a sheet protector. I set them on the counters at both ends of the conference room, and put another under the speaker phone in the middle of the table. If I was available to assist, great. But when I wasn’t, they had everything they needed to do it on their own. The best part was, if they inadvertently got disconnected during the meeting, they could quickly get it back up and running without an urgent scramble from the conference room to track me down.
I refer to this as covert delegation. And in this week’s feature article, I share three ways procedures are effective in covert delegation. I also share two of the biggest reasons why I believe assistants resist delegation in the first place. We’re also giving you lots of ideas and tips on our Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn pages, so be sure check those resources out, too!
Delegation isn’t just for those who have others reporting to them. Delegation is something every one of us can use to get more done in strategic and productive ways!
Supporting your administrative success,
P.S. Did you miss our free webinar last week? Or forget to start this week’s 5 Days to Better Office Procedures Challenge? If so, you can still join us here! The training, resources, and links will only be accessible through, Wednesday, August 31. Act now!