Many people struggle to delegate because they believe other people won’t do the work as well as them, the want the job done the way they would do it and they want it done perfectly. This may well be true (that others won’t do it as well as them) but they are asking themselves the wrong question. It shouldn’t be ‘will they do it as well as me?’ but ‘ will they do it well enough?’ Those who don’t delegate become bottle necks, and if they are the owners of their businesses (like many clients I work with) then they stop their business growing – which is the exact opposite of their intent.
Many people brag about being a perfectionist – they think it shows the quality of their output and that they are better than your ‘average Joe’ but the truth is perfectionism is unhealthy; it stops us doing things, its focuses the attention on failure rather than success and it stops us delegating.
“Striving for excellence motivates you; striving for perfection is demoralizing.” Harriet Braiker
We often equate being a perfectionist as a good thing. Yet perfectionists rarely complete task, or don’t ever start tasks – for fear of not being able to do it perfectly. Perfectionism often causes procrastination. Perfectionists are terrified of making a mistake, and consequently find themselves stressed, anxious, and desperately focused on not failing. They maintain unrealistic expectations of themselves and of others and consequently, don’t delegate.
Doing something ‘good enough’ (….for the client to be happy….to represent the brand well) is what we should strive for instead. This level of excellence focuses our attention on what’s right and working well, rather than what’s not working – and this keeps our attention on the positives and how things could be even better. Excellence is limitless and progressive, since you can always reach for greater and greater excellence. Whereas perfection can never be achieved.
Breaking the cycle
Here are my 4 tips on breaking perfectionist tendencies
- Focus on progress, not perfection – Get a clear sense of the purpose in everything you do. Then it will be easier to know which things deserve that extra time to get things “just right,” and which things don’t.
- Set your minimum standard, and stop when you meet it – Get clear about your minimum standards – and once you find an answer that meets those minimum standards, choose it. Stop searching for more options.
- Get organised – Create your daily/weekly lists and do the hardest thing first
- Get unstuck – When you get stuck and find yourself procrastinating, JFWDI (and if you want to know what that means, drop me a line!)
I run workshops on delegation and being a great leader and this is a topic that is discussed with more detail on strategies to overcome it.
So the next time you think ‘I can’t delegate because they won’t do it as well as me’ or ‘ I don’t want to tackle this because I don’t think I can do it perfectly’, ask yourself ‘will they/I do it well enough?’
If you would like to learn more about delegation then download a copy of my free book on the topic