“I can’t delegate anything! We’ve had staff cuts, and everyone is too busy already.” That’s a pretty frequent comment made by leaders. Is there no other option but doing it yourself?

Actually, delegation can still happen, even if you’re sensing that your people are swamped. How?

1. Understand and explain the challenge. Define the necessary results are not happening – and the impact on the organization. Do your homework about the relative merits of all of the team’s work. Be prepared to stop doing X in order to focus on Y. Then talk with your team about priorities and the high-value work that is left undone. Help them connect the dots between what the team must achieve and their contributions to those results.

2. Figure out how people are spending their time. This doesn’t have to be an intensive time study, but do have people analyze where their time is spent and what results are accomplished. You may find that lower-value work is consuming more resources than you’d assumed.

3. Make time management a priority. Encourage people to share best practices that are both efficient and effective. Align on who should be involved with what work to achieve the sweet spot of collaboration. Simply put, there are times when the whole team, a subset or a small group are best utilized. Don’t have everyone touch every task if it isn’t necessary.

4. Encourage people to take time off. This may seem counter-intuitive, but time off reduces stress and makes employees even more productive.

5. Deal with issues around stress. Employees won’t sustain the benefits of vacation if they come back to the same high-level stress at work. Look at ways in which your staffing structures, culture and processes amp up pressure and anxiety, and take steps to address them.

Moving forward, consider the essential goals that must be achieved to create the future. Make those your focus, and zero in on the best, few actions that will get you there. That means saying no to other things with a low payoff or that can be a shiny distraction. Difficult work, but worth the effort!

How do you delegate, even when everyone has full plates? Comment below or message us.


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