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3 Tips to delegate better

Why is it so hard to delegate? And what can we do about it?

When you start a project that involves more than one person, be that a new company, a music video, or even moving to another place; it's tempting to try and do everything by yourself. Particularly when you originated the project or are in charge of it.

Listening to that impulse not only will not bring the peace of mind you're trying to find, but it will hinder progress. The reasons may include that you don't have the skills and/or knowledge to execute what needs to be done, the bottlenecks that come from focusing everything on one person (for execution or approval), and many more obvious reasons.

So, if it were THAT obvious why does this always happens in projects all the time. My tiny contribution today to this «debate» is not to figure out why we don't delegate (although I bet insecurity has a lot to do with it) but to give tools to move on once you've figured out you've made a mistake by not delegating enough.

I've made a mistake, I can't do everything by myself

Admitting it is the first step. Admitting to the absurdity that is trying to make by yourself what is clearly a group effort. With that out of the way, here are 3 tools that have helped in my journey.

Identify what isn't getting done

Back when I was Line Producer at Touché Films, we were starting a new season after a successful year. I was handed a larger team, and for the first time, one that was exclusively for production (as opposed to the unspecialised teams we had before). We had marching order of «bigger and bolder».

Once production started every little frustration, combined with the false need to prove the false narrative of «More spending = Better outcome», lead me to the dark path of trying to do things outside my purview. Not only things that were the responsibility of my team but even of other teams. This wasn't as bad as it sounds but it did hinder the pace of shooting significantly enough for me to take a step back and think.

I don't rememberwhat snapped me out this, the only thing I remember is that I needed to get a hold of this or sink my team's reputation. So after abstaining myself from getting involved in what didn't require Me specifically I began to identify the processes and tasks that weren't getting done or were getting done deficiently enough that they enticed me to want to do them myself.

I didn't make lists, I just went to were that tasks were taking place, offer help or ask for help from someone who was in charge of it. Nothing wild, but breaking the urgency of it all is what allows us to be better team players and evaluate how much of a fire a fire really is.

Fuck up budget

After this the fire didn't disappear, but matchstick flames were no longer categorised as fires. Developing this further I gave my team a tool I came across in Tim Ferris' The 4-hour Workweek.

The concept is pretty simple, you define an amount of money you're comfortable with (I started with 50 dollars (enchufe is still a very modest scale project)) and told them to «use common sense, and only call me if a problem required more than 50 dollars to solve. If it's more let me know». Ferris in his book uses this tool to create space between him and the running of his company. I used it to delegate better

Independence breads trust and ownership over a project. That way 50 became a 100, a 100 became a 1000, and a 1000 became the whole season's production budget (more on that later).

Be a teacher, be a student

Once we stablished trust as a team, we still had issues coming up (like any project has). Still if something could improve I would share it, but pointing at something isn't enough. So I made a conscious effort to teach anything I knew that'd be relevant and finding people who could teach us even more.

I'm going to be honest, our self development program at Touché wasn't the best, but we as a Production Department were always reading, learning, and following courses or getting mentorships.

It's not possible to know it all, but within any field it is possible to be up to date on the current knowledge. A team that's constantly learning is a team with a fast reaction time, you have more solution vocabulary to respond to a problem.

True supervision

With that covered one of the strangest jobs start, true supervision. My once assistant replaced me as Line Producer when I accepted the role of CEO. It was a very moving moment. Like a graduation, with tears and everything.

Supervising when you have someone you fully trust and who you know is your equal is really to super vise, to look from above literally. Intervening only through the person in charge. Having high level collaborative conversations without getting lost in the details is a one of a kind experience.

The only job left to navigate is to cultivate mutual respect. Knowing when to intervine, when to accept, and how to take advantage of dissenting opinions. Most of all, learning how not to pull rank.

Build people up

This «system» is clearly not made for short term projects but you can use these tools individually in many a situation, but if you are going to leave with something from this blog, please let it be this: Build people up.

There are a couple things that are no good to have in life, but professional jealousy and an outsized ego are among the worst ones. Helping people reach their professional potential is one of the best investments one can make, not only to delegate better but as a career move.

I say this without an ounce of cynicism, building up collaborators is the simplest way to have a circle of high level professionals that can get you even more opportunities.

So delegate, not just to relax, or in the name of efficiency, but to get ahead. So if you’re interested in getting ahead, remember to suscribe to the newsletter to know about free workshops and other events. Or hit me up at the contact page to know more about mentorships.