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Last updated on 12/9/20

Learn to distribute tasks and delegate

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Distributing tasks

A mission is a “super-objective” which will be broken down into tasks (actions that will be distributed between several team members) with deadlines. These tasks, or intermediate objectives, will need to be tracked.

Distributing the tasks and scheduling their execution are fundamental. As soon as a mission involves more than two staff members, you must:

  • establish the organization chart for the tasks

  • define the levels of responsibilities

  • centralize all the documents and procedures for accompanying the mission/project

  • put tracking in place

1) TO: The Task Organization chart

The Task Organization chart is a tree diagram giving a breakdown of all the jobs to be performed as part of the mission/project. The lowest levels in the tree structure are called work packages. A work package defines a deliverable, i.e. the product of the task accomplished: for example, building a website, identifying and canvassing sponsors, market research, visiting and auditing sales outlets.

A few rules:

  1. The mission is broken down into tasks until work packages are distributed. 

  2. This breakdown is performed according to the 3Rs rule: a work package is assigned to a single person Responsible for it, for an identified Result, according to the Resources assigned for this purpose.

  3. When an element of the TO is broken down, it is equal to the sum of the broken-down elements:  nothing must be omitted, because anything that isn’t scheduled, won’t get done!

  4. There are several logical approaches for breaking down the tasks: by function, geographically,  product nomenclature or supplier. One logical approach is usually enough.

  5. Each work package corresponds on average to 10–20 days work for one person.

For example, a mission is being put together to create a website for a convention. Here’s the TO for it:

Task Organisation
A task organization chart (or TO)

2) Responsibilities table

The responsibilities table is a tool that lets you visualize the 4 levels of “responsibility”. Either your collaborative tool includes these levels, or you can use an office application solution (Excel) integrated into your collaborative platform.

  • (R) Responsible: guarantor for the accomplishment of the task package. They play a part themselves and/or may delegate all or part of the tasks

  • (P) Participant: they carry out the work package

  • (C) Consulted: this is an expert who will carry out a task or for a technical validation.

  • (I) Informed: this is a team member to whom documents are distributed, who is kept informed of progress and is invited to meetings because the task package has an impact on their own mission.

From the task organization chart, copy the work packages into the left-hand column, then on each line indicate the various stakeholders in the tasks. For example:

 

Project Leader

Fiona

Communication

Paul

Marketing

Gloria

Computing

John

Purchasing

Kristen

Designing the site

 

 

R

P

 

Developing the site

 

 

P

R

 

Identifying targets

 

I

R

 

 

E-mail campaign

 

 

R

 

P

Social network promotion

 

I

R

 

P

Chasing up registrations and delegate payments

 

 

R

 

 

Selecting the webinar technical solution

 

 

 

P

R

Go production

R

P

P

P

P

Integrating the webinar solution via the site

 

 

 

R

P

Finding sponsors

I

I

 

 

R

Budget reporting

R

 

 

 

P

3) Workflow

At this stage in your organization, you need to schedule the deadlines for each work package in accordance with the final delivery date. Making a realistic calculation of the time to carry them out, including, if possible, a small cushion to lessen the impact of unforeseen events.

Representing the tasks in sequence, including deadlines, is called a workflow.  A Gantt chart also allows you to visualize the steps and the margins for error. 

4) Reporting

Depending on the scale of the mission, its duration, and the number of people involved, reporting needs to allow for the completion of the intermediate objectives to be validated. A spreadsheet allows you to periodically track a panel of indicators.

Reporting is particularly important when turnover and/or costs budget is involved. An annual turnover objective must be broken down into monthly, or even weekly, objectives.

A configured collaborative platform allows this reporting to be edited and made available in real time. If the various tools are not integrated, a reporting manager will have to be designated.

Delegating

Why delegate?

In the preceding example, several work packages are separated into “Responsible” and “Participant”: this is because the task has been delegated. Delegation usually occurs as part of a hierarchical link (from the manager/project leader to the staff member), but it is not inconceivable that an experienced or overloaded team member might delegate to someone else with less seniority in the job or who is less busy.

Knowing how to delegate is a state of mind, as it means:

  • giving up doing it yourself, being in total control

  • sharing the credit

  • trusting people

But it also involves know-how, as you have to:

  • choose the right person to delegate to

  • take care to give them rewarding tasks and not just the donkey-work

  • pass the necessary know-how on to them

  • give them independence as to the method

  • check on the results regularly

Properly-supervised delegation has multiple advantages.

  • For the one who delegates:

    • saving in time and stress

       

    • the ability to concentrate on the core of their mission

  • For the person being delegated to:

    • personal growth

    • skills-building

Choosing the right person to delegate to

In order to correctly choose the person to whom you are going to entrust the task, you need to differentiate between skills and motivation. Here are a few tools to help you in your choice:

Tasks to be delegated

Skills required

Persons in the department with those skills

Persons capable of acquiring the skills

Task 1

 

 

 

Task 2

 

 

 

Task n

 

 

 

For each person being considered, assess each criterion from 1 (low/weak) to 5 (high/strong):

Team-members

John

Patrick

Barbara

Independent

 

 

 

Organized and thorough

 

 

 

spirit of initiative

 

 

 

finds solutions

 

 

 

able to engage in dialogue

 

 

 

invests themselves

 

 

 

copes with stress

 

 

 

TOTAL POINTS

 

 

 

Putting supervision in place

You have decided to entrust the performance of a task to a team member. You must:

  • Define the objectives of the mission/task in detail in terms of SMART: the objective is Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic, Timebound.

  • Clearly describe the results expected and the supervision method.

  • Provide the means required.

  • Put the supervision routine in place (a regular review, reporting, etc.).

  • Announce officially to the whole team at a meeting that you are delegating this task, giving the reasons (skills, workload, etc.). The more transparent you are, the less you risk the phenomenon of internal rivalry.

A few rules for appropriate supervision:

  • Monitor the overall progress and review the results expected according to the initial experience of the person and the way their independence is developing. In due course, avoid any intrusion other than the appointments arranged for the progress reviews.

  • If it is the person to whom you have delegated who is tempted to give you a report every day, correct this and help them find their independence.

Summary

  • Distributing and scheduling tasks, as well as effectively delegating and supervising task execution, are fundamental to teamwork.

  • Task management may include the following tools:

    • Task Organization chart, or TO

    • Responsibilities table

    • Workflow

    • Reporting

Distributing tasks and delegating needs to be organized collectively in meetings. Knowing how to run meetings is essential.

To be continued: operating instructions for agile, effective meetings! 😄

Example of certificate of achievement
Example of certificate of achievement