Paralegal Strategies: Are you a one man band?

Paralegal Strategies: Are you a one man band?

Do you have too much to do and not enough time to get it all done? Do you run out of day before you run out of list? Do you try to do everything yourself?

If you answered ‘Yes!’ to any of those questions, you are operating like a One Man Band.
There is a solution: delegate!

It may be difficult to give up control of some of your responsibilities but that’s the only way you’ll get off the merry-go-round and stop being a ‘one man band.’

Get over the idea that you, and only you, are capable of handling a job….that it will just not be good enough unless you do it yourself. While there may be critical issues that require your personal attention, remember that everything isn’t critical.

If you delegate, you’ll take a giant step toward relieving the stress and overwhelm of having too much to do.

B. Eugene Greissman, author of ‘Time Tactics of Very Successful People,’ said: You should do only that which only you can do.’ It’s true: decide what you have to do that takes your unique talents and expertise and then allow someone else to do the rest!

When you delegate, there are several steps you need to take to be effective:

1. Plan. Review the work you have to do and map out the steps that need to be taken to finish the project. From that map, determine which steps ‘only you can do’ and which steps can be done by someone else.

You’ll find it easier to delegate if you use the 80% rule: you think that no one can do the job as well as you, so delegate when the job can be done to 80% of your satisfaction. Now, 80% of your satisfaction may not be perfect but remember that you now have two goals: 1) getting the job done and 2) taking some pressure off yourself.

While you’re mapping out your plan, be sure to eliminate anything that doesn’t have to be done at all. Don’t waste our time…or someone else’s…doing jobs that aren’t necessary.

2. Decide to whom you’re delegating. Select the person who’s ready to do the job…or someone you’re willing to train so that they can ultimately do the job. You shouldn’t delegate to people just because they’re standing next to you. Consider their abilities, experience and eagerness.

It’s one thing if you impose your high standards on yourself, but you shouldn’t impose them on someone who can’t live up to your expectations. We all have different degrees of talents and skills. You can’t expect yourself or others to operate beyond the current level of ability.

3. Give clear directions. Communication is the key here. If you don’t give clear directions, you’ll be setting the other person up for failure. The person you are delegating to must understand exactly what you want to get the results you’re looking for.

No one can read your mind. If you want a document or a file set up a certain way, let them know. This clear direction should also include deadlines for completing the work. If the work can’t be completed by your deadline, that needs to be resolved up front.

4. Follow Up. Make notes in your planner (either electronic or paper) to remind you when the job should be completed and to schedule ‘appointments’ to check on the progress of the work. This will keep everyone on task and avoid any surprises when the deadline arrives and the work isn’t completed.

5. Reward success. Praise is often the most effective reward. Some occasions even call for a thank-you note for a job well done or perhaps a special treat.

If there is an unsuccessful, or just partly successful, result, use a positive approach to review the errors and make your expectations clear so that future results will be satisfactory. This is important if you expect this person to do work for you again. Always remember: praise in public and correct in private.

Your challenge: Resolve to stop thinking that you’re the only one who can do a job that meets your standards. This may mean you have to reconsider your standards. Then look at all the work on your desk and determine what can be done by someone else. Remember that you should be working on things that only you can do. If the work can be done satisfactorily by someone else, you should delegate it.

Follow the five steps to successful delegating and you’ll be on your way to reducing your workload and relieving much of the stress in your life.
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© 2011 Vicki Voisin, Inc.
Do you want to use this article in your newsletter, ezine or Web site? You can, so long as you include this entire blurb with it: Vicki Voisin, “The Paralegal Mentor”, delivers simple strategies for paralegals and other professionals to create success and satisfaction by setting goals and determining the direction they will take their careers. Vicki spotlights resources, organizational tips, ethics issues, and other areas of continuing education to help paralegals and others reach their full potential. She publishes Paralegal Strategies, a weekly e-newsletter for paralegals, and co-hosts The Paralegal Voice, a monthly podcast produced by Legal Talk Network.
More information is available at www.paralegalmentor.com where subscribers receive Vicki’s 151 Tips for Your Career Success.