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Assigning Tasks vs. Delegating

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  • Assigning Tasks vs. Delegating

    Wondering if anyone has had this issue before...

    If I delegate to another person, and create a Waiting For task, it gives me the option of creating a task and reminder for my file. What the other person does, and how they set it up is their own business. But, I don't have the option of receiving a status report to know when the task has been completed. This results in added work- either my having to check with the other person to see if the task has in fact been completed, or the other person having to contact me to let me know they did complete what I asked.

    If I assign a task to another person, it fixes the issue with losing my status report option, but now I lose the option to set a reminder, thus causing me to return to the task after I've assigned it to set up a reminder for myself.

    Both of these options are missing, in my opinion, necessary requirements. Does anyone know if there is there a way around this, or should I just learn to accept it?

    Thanks for your input.

  • #2
    Do you watch the show The Apprentice? The last episode of the first season (now available on DVD) was, IMHO, the classic example of this.

    One project manager was very hands off - "I trust the people I work with, and I won't question their work" and it was a disaster for him. They actually lost a person, but because he didn't follow up even when he knew there was a problem, it just got worse.

    The other project manager was a micromanager, and went everywhere with his clipboard and task list. The people who worked for him complained that he was too hands on.

    Guess which one got the project done with the fewest hitches?

    If it's important for you to keep track of a task, no matter who's doing it, you better track it. Eventually when you can trust that someone is also very GTD and won't let it fall through the cracks, you can relax on the @waiting lists.


    • #3
      Mark makes a good point, but don't confuse tracking with micromanaging. I track what my paralegal, assistant, associates, other staff, even other partners are doing "for me," or "at my request." But I don't dictate to them on a step-by-step basis what to do.

      You have to be able to evaluate the abilities of those to whom you delegate or assign work, and pay closer attention to those who need it. At the same time, you don't want to spend all your time watching over their shoulders and telling them, "Do this. Do that. Now do this other thing." If you're going to do that, you might as well do the project yourself. Highly inefficient.

      I recall David saying somewhere -- perhaps in his two-day Managing Workflows seminar -- that if you care what happens, you'd better track it. Again, tracking doesn't mean doing it yourself or micromanaging. Just give yourself some @Waiting For actions, or some tickler in a paper tickler file, or a reminder on your calendar (if there' a due date) so you can check back and help fix things if they've gone off track.

      By the way, same goes for kids. (And, dare I say, for your spouse!)



      • #4
        Well said. I called him a micromanager because that's what the people who were working for him said, and I didn't want to paint it as all sun & roses.

        I agree, there's a difference between micromanaging and tracking. Also, the ability to effectively communicate what the task really is at its core is an important one, and one most people haven't acquired. If you can communicate intent rather than laundry listing tasks, the people who work for you will be much more likely to hit the target.


        • #5
          Great example using the Apprentice....

          I don't want to "micro-manage", but do I want to track, and I agree, there is a difference.

          In theory, I agree with both of you.

          Physically, it's too bad that a system like GTD, which is trying to streamline and minimize the time spent doing something, removes an option from Outlook that, in my opinion, is extremely beneficial. I don't want to lose my options of tracking/reminding/status reports, at least until I'm sure the other users are just as well-versed in GTD, so for now, I think I'm stuck doing a few extra things to make sure everything is accounted for.

          Thanks again!