Effective Delegation at Home

An interesting story I had heard long time back which still stays with me on delegation …

Once there was a famous wrestler and he was so powerful that he could crush anybody in minutes. After a hectic tournament, when he returned home, he found a little mouse playing on his bed room.
He tried to catch it but the smart mouse escaped from all his effort and was still playing there. He was unable to sleep peacefully so his wife told him to assign a cat to catch that mouse.
Next day he brought one mighty cat. The cat was very famous for doing excellent tricks and won many prizes. He brought the cat from his owner for a day.
After returning home with the cat the wrestler was waiting to watch the little mouse to be killed. The cat walked around and tried real hard to catch it but unfortunately it failed from all its attempt. In fact after few minutes, the mouse scared the cat away.
Now as a famous wrestler, he brought a clever and powerful cat of the King from the palace. This time the wrestler was certain that the king’s cat would be able to kill the little mouse.
After few minutes, the King’s cat also failed in all its attempts to catch the mouse and was tired. So he decided to drop the cat back at the palace. However on his way back, the wrestler asked the cat to help him with an idea to kill the mouse.
The King’s cat quietly answered him. “Dear Wrestler to catch that little mouse, you don’t need a tricky cat or a wise cat like me. I am clever but I am not good at catching a mouse as I live in palace, I never knew hunger and never tried so hard to catch a little meal. Like me, the tricky cat also never starved for food. I suggest you take a street cat to your home”.
So the wrestler quickly brought a street cat. The wrestler was not confident as it looked very simple.
Once they entered the home, the cat rushed from the hands of the wrestler and ran fast into his bed room and was casually walking out of his home with that little mouse on its mouth. Everything was over in few seconds.
So choose the right person and assign the right responsibilities to him.
These days we are burdened with work but our major challenge is to get the work done smoothly. Usually we do not think about these problems because we believe that it’s common and its bound to happen and they remain as a casual conversation topic.
An important question to ask (to ourselves) is when to Delegate?
Bible says ‘We delegate when our responsibilities are greater than our capacities’

Common Misconception
If I delegate a task I will get more time/ relieve me from the burden. Its not true immediately. In-fact you should be prepared to give series of easy instruction and training which may take some of your time than doing the task yourself. However in the long run it will certainly keep you from of burning out.
As a Corporate trainer this is a very common subject for corporate workshop and often participants share their challenges while handling teams which I feel is applicable for our families as well:
Barriers to Delegation
We often think that….
• “It is easier to do it myself. What I can do in ten minutes, takes me fifteen minutes just to explain it.’ it takes more time to show people how to do it than it does to do it yourselves
• .Probably here we are not sure if children/ spouse can do it properly (according to your definition).
• They are not responsible enough to do it. I’ve been burned too many times.
• If you want something done right, do it yourself.”
• I have tried so many times but they never continue the same for a long time.
• it is frustrating to delegate something and then not have it done the “right” way at the right time
• Sometimes delegated tasks takes more problems and time, as you keep answering questions and few are very silly.
Root problem is me, not always the family members: Perfectionism, Lack of trust, difficulty in explaining. Wherein our focus should be on what not how- results not methods*

Difficulties we all face in the in the family
o Lot of members do not like or want to do certain task
o Lack of responsibility
o They need to be told every day to do the task. In-fact need to be pushed very hard.
How to Delegate?
We are burned but hesitant to delegate because of our past experience. We often have 3 different age group in our families and depending on the maturity of the person involved and ability level:
1. Young children
2. Older children
3. Adult children
4. Spouse
Model of delegation
We must remember that Telling is not teaching. We will have to
o direct
o coach
o delegate

We cannot assume that if we tell anybody they will be able to perform an activity. Often we make a mistake of thinking this and get upset if they do not perform as per our expectation. This is especially true for our older children and spouse.
1. For younger children: Direct – give a specific task description or even a checklist ( make together) of what needs to be done along with intermittent deadlines to ensure his success.

2. For older children: Coaching – you allow them to make their plan and procedure. You could only coach them along and advise them until they succeed.

3. Adult member: Delegation – you just ask them to do because you know they can do (ability and responsibility both are high). You can trust that they will do it right and on time. You have seen his proven faithfulness over time.

“Not”: There is no hard and fast rule in terms of who needs coaching and who could be delegated directly.


o Children should always be directed but if your children are habituated in doing house hold activities then you could simply delegate to them. If they have not been doing house hold work regularly or without interest you need to coach them.
o Hence you are a better judge whether the members in your family need to be coached or delegated.

One needs to be ready to follow “M3”. “Avoid Micromanagement and follow Monitoring and Motivating”

The common discussions in these days of lockdown is how one particular family member (specially the lady of the house) is engaged in house hold work. It happens that activities are not shared by other family members.

It sends the signal to the other person that either you do not trust his skills or it does not make anybody feel good
o You do not think they are capable and this creates a feeling of unimportant, not valued
o You are control freak. This creates a rebel behavior
o All this is applicable for old and young. So be careful.

Note: Especially people who are ‘perfectionist’ often like to do micro management. It is certainly not a great quality to follow always. Especially when you are teaching/ coaching somebody to do a new task (or a task which they do not want to do).

Learning to do mentoring @ home and motivating will come handy in future.

o It needs patience
o Should be done in such a way that the other person looks at it as a help and not as you trying to teach or control them.
o So don’t say “oh god, I asked you to do this but you could not even do this much” instead tell him how exactly you want the thing to be done. It keeps the conversation at home more healthy and peaceful.
o So in other words we should *give feed forward* instead of blaming/ accusing
o Feed forward followed by some appreciation will always keep them motivated (too much of appreciation can be avoided).
o Too much of controlling, accusing, blaming will lead to lack of interest and eventually they will stop doing it. This is the last thing we want.

Relationship between task and the person
o Mostly choose a task as per the personality of the person.
o Children of young age certainly like action so helping you in setting tables, taking out clothes from outside etc are engaging
How to progress in Delegation:
Personal example- My parents had gone to a next level of delegation. They had assigned me the task of monthly budgeting of our house. Initially I took help of my father and later on I used to do it independently. It helped me designing L&D budgeting at my workplace.

Examples of extent of delegation:
Young children—make your bed, fold the clothes, pick up your shoes/coat, take out the garbage, set the table.
Older Children: When appropriate, parents should give children responsibility for entire task projects. For example, children could be delegated tasks like:
• planning family home evening activities
• doing the weekly grocery shopping
• planning the meals for a week
• checking the food storage supply
Adult children/ member: responsibility for keeping the family car in good condition, assign the task of getting the family up every morning/ evening for scripture reading and prayer, dividing the housecleaning (deep cleaning), or delegate to various family members the responsibility of keeping a particular part of the home clean
For example, you delegate to your children the task of family marketing. This means the child is responsible for handling a rather large amount of money, for buying all the food, and for generally coordinating the buying with the family meal plans.
Advantages of delegation
In this period of lockdown doing household chores together is in itself a family bonding activity (if families are able to do it happily). It creates a sense of team. It develops new abilities and a sense of contribution to the movement.
o To delegate to others, expands the level of competence and confidence in another.
o Delegation helps explore new capabilities
o Increases sense of responsibility
o Sense of accountability
o Sense of independence
o Family members are less stressed
More importantly, delegation helps to empower our family members to be independent and in future when they have some challenging situations, they are competent to handle it effectively.
We all are facing challenges these days, however the families where the members share their household activities regularly are facing fewer challenges as compared to families where members have recently started doing it.
Tip: Start delegation among children as early as possible…. 3-4 years of age. It will get more difficult for you to do so as the child grows.

Rules of Delegation
o Give everybody some liberty to do the task
o Do not Micro manage
o Keep some basic rules which are non-negotiable
Tips for effective Delegation
1. Decide what needs to be done.
2. Select the best person for the job. Consider your family members’ abilities (and also interest in case of young children) while delegating.
3. Let him/her know you believe he/she can do it. Trust is one of the highest forms of motivation.
4. Clarify and agree upon the desired result and deadline.
5. Focus on ‘what’ not ‘how – ‘results’ not ‘methods’
6. Set a rule in the family that delegation means accountability for the right results.
7. Share your mistakes and the mistakes of others.
8. Establish consequences. (If required)
Delegation creates responsible human beings which then becomes part of their personality. Especially important for children at a young age.
Usually children get bored easily.
Option 1: change the time table weekly so that they have a mix of activities to do and also not the same activity too long.
Option 2: make a game. Write all the activities in bowl. Ask the child to pick 1 activity in the evening daily which he needs to do the next day. This will give him variety and this will make him do the activities that he like as well as dislikes.
We will have to accept that everybody is conditioned in a certain way and loads of people (due to cultural perspective), do not consider / identify with the household activities as a part of their activity list.
In this case it’s a good idea to identify certain activities for them (with their liking if needed) and ask them to perform those activities. However we also need to be careful that we adopt ‘M3 policy’

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