March 16th is my twins’ b’nai mitzvah. That’s 4 days away. And as you know, regardless of whether the big day is a ceremony followed by a buffet brunch (like ours) or a booming blow-out that rivals the Vanity Fair Oscars party, there are a million things that need to get done in advance of it. So when I delegated to my son Jacob the design of the photo montage, which traditionally shows as many friends and family members as you’ve ever taken a picture of, matched with a sentimental and upbeat soundtrack, I was thrilled that he agreed to take it on. Until….
Until I realized that he thought pictures of his twin sister crying or in diapers should be well represented. Until I realized that his tolerance for low-resolution images was much higher than mine. And until I realized that his choice of music was, shall we say, more explicit than mine. I was about to take back the whole project when I remembered one of my own Secrets of Savvy Delegators: “Clarify expectations up front, plan for check-ins, then get out of the way”. In other words, rather than panicking that he wouldn’t do it the way I would do it (which he wouldn’t), I sat him down for an expectations conversation, where we covered a few ground rules: 1) No pictures that embarrass anyone; 2) if you can see pixilation in the photo, shrink it or skip it; and 3) no music with lyrics that would make a grandparent blush. With that start-up information shared, and a schedule of frequent check-ins planned, I put the montage out of my mind so that I could focus my mind on everything else I couldn’t delegate.
Here are four other secrets of savvy delegators:
- Delegate to the right person when the stakes are high. While many folks are more focused on the “bar”, we are more focused on the “mitzvah”. So while the party playlist might not be perfect or the decorations may not be sophisticated, getting the service as right as we could in terms of both accuracy and intimacy was critical for us. What this means is that we delegated the design of the service and the preparation of our children to one of our closest, most trusted friends – who also happens to be a rabbi. Anyone can be in charge of the balloons, but not anyone could be in charge of helping our kids’ embrace this day as a milestone, and helping us have the event feel special and sacred.
- Distinguish between responsibility and accountability when delegating. Even as much as we trust our rabbi and friend to deliver on his responsibilities, we are still accountable for making sure that the kids do their preparation. We are still accountable for making sure that the service is inclusive. And we are certainly accountable for making sure that our children’s interest in and commitment to leading a life of good deeds and loving behavior towards others and a belief in something lasts beyond 13 years old. None of those things can be delegated.
- Stop seeking positive reinforcement for being overwhelmed. “Deb, how are you guys DOING with everything going on?” has been the topic of most chats with my friends and family over the last few months. And while I appreciate the recognition that this is a crazy time for us, I am actively avoiding the desire to seem busier than I actually am. Yes, it is very tempting to play the burdened victim here, and hope that people would send me certificates for Massage Envy and some take-out dinners, but that’s not the truth, nor is it the message I want to send. Yes, it is a lot to do. But my husband has taken on a huge number of tasks, and our kids are carrying their weight. So I am very clear in letting people know that it is major AND manageable. And that I am important but not indispensable.
- Don’t give away all the fun stuff. Delegation is supposed to make your life and work easier, not harder. It kept my motivation up throughout the boring parts (like planning the seating arrangements – a task I couldn’t delegate but one that aged me by several years) to know that I got to pick the menu because I really, truly care about the food. Nobody was taking that off my plate, so to speak. So there will be bagels and lox and baked ziti and macaroni and cheese and rainbow cookies and…and….yum. How do you know that there’s something you should keep for yourself? When someone says to you, “I can do that for you,” and you think to yourself, “Nope – that’s mine.” Which is probably what I’ll say about anyone who tries to touch my rainbow cookie!
Want to learn more savvy delegation secrets to help you manage your team, your work and your life? Join me for a one hour Virtual Presentation, “Delegate without Drama” this month, and 10 other topics throughout the year! Register here: www.myjewishcoach.com/webinar.html