For admins, delegation can be a challenge. It’s hard to delegate when you’re not the one in charge, and most admins are accustomed to being the ones delegated to.
To a certain degree, both of these things may be true. But there are still ways to get help from others even if you’re not in a position of authority or leadership. And the first step is rethinking your definition of delegation.
To most people, delegation means assigning work to someone else. However, it can also mean asking for help when you need it. Sometimes they’re one and the same. Sometimes it’s a combination of the two.
Regardless of the definition, there’s no harm in asking for assistance when you’re inundated with work, asked to do something that’s beyond your skills set, or there’s someone else who’s better qualified for a task.
All you have to do is learn to be a better admin delegator, which is as easy as following these best practices.
1. Partner from the start.
If you know you want to ask for assistance from others to accomplish something, get buy in from your manager in the beginning. Suggest that this might be a great project for you to tackle with some other members the team and ask if it’s OK to get them involved. Unless what you’re working on is highly confidential, most managers have little issue with this. When you approach others about helping you, let them know that their contributions have been endorsed, and your manager is excited about the combined efforts. When everyone feels like they are contributing and part of the team from the beginning – it’s a win-win.
2. Understand and explain the project at hand.
Before you can delegate or ask someone for assistance, you need to know exactly what you’re requesting to be done. If you do not fully understand the project or task, how can you expect someone else to? Talk to the person you’re delegating to and explain the end result. Also be very specific about when (date and time) you need the task completed.
3. Develop your internal network.
This means getting to know the other admins in your office, as well as your team members, to better understand their areas of expertise. Then, when you do run into an opportunity where you need someone to pinch hit, you’ll know the right person to ask. Just make sure you’re willing to reciprocate if and when someone in your internal network needs assistance.
4. Say “thanks.”
Showing your appreciation to someone who’s helped you is invaluable. Not only are you expressing your gratitude, you’re making the person feel important and recognizing their contribution.
5. Don’t assume you can’t request help.
A lot of times admins assume we have to do everything ourselves and cannot ask for help. But the goal is to get the work done and have it be accurate. And sometimes it can be more accurate if you get other people involved. Your executive or manager likely isn’t micromanaging you, so until he or she says “no,” explore and use the delegation options that are available.
6. Use your procedures.
Procedures are an essential delegation tool. When you are inundated with work and someone needs something, you can give him or her your procedures for the task, instead of tackling it yourself. You’re helping the person without adding to your pile of to-dos. You can also use your procedures when you need to ask someone else for assistance since they’re an easy-to-follow, how-to guide.
7. Know your strengths and weaknesses.
If you encounter a task that you’re not good at or don’t enjoy doing, consider delegating it. If it’s a task you really don’t like, but your coworker does, explore trading tasks with him or her. You can also ask someone who’s more qualified to teach you how to do it or do it better.
When a project or task lands on your desk, it’s not necessarily because you’re the one who has to do it. You may be ultimately responsible for it getting done, but it’s part of your responsibility to delegate projects and tasks to the most competent person. If you’re the right person for a task, great. If not, don’t feel bad about handing it off to a more capable person. Delegating might take some getting used to, but in the long run it will lighten your workload and make you a better, more efficient admin.
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Julie Perrine, CAP-OM, is the founder and CEO of All Things Admin, providing training, mentoring and resources for administrative professionals worldwide. Julie applies her administrative expertise and passion for lifelong learning to serving as an enthusiastic mentor, speaker and author who educates admins around the world on how to be more effective every day. Learn more about Julie’s books — The Innovative Admin: Unleash the Power of Innovation in Your Administrative Career and The Organized Admin: Leverage Your Unique Organizing Style to Create Systems, Reduce Overwhelm, and Increase Productivity, and Become a Procedures Pro: The Admin’s Guide to Developing Effective Office Systems and Procedures.