Storytelling for better delegation

How often have you uttered ‘I can do it better’ and taken back a responsibility you delegated because you felt it was not appropriately executed? How often have you had the feeling that those reporting to you failed you because they did not ‘adequately’ execute a task? If ‘quite often’ is the answer, there may be an issue with your delegation. You may well be the issue here and not their performance.

Proper delegation is one of the most difficult tasks

If that sound harsh, well, I intend to be. Proper delegation is one of the most difficult tasks there is, and we do not, not by far, spend enough time learning it or teaching it to people. As a result, delegation is an archetypical wheel, being reinvented time and again.

Delegation issues sometimes relate to lack of storytelling skills

I’m convinced there is a correlation between issues with delegation and a lack of storytelling skills. Let me explain what I believe good delegation consists of and how it relates to storytelling.

Good delegation requires you to paint a picture

If you delegate a task or a responsibility, you need to paint a clear picture of the future you envision. You need to clarify what you want in as clear and concise a manner as possible. Storytelling is a good way of painting that picture. Happily ever after is usually preceded by a detailed account of how the situation turned out after the witch had been beaten. It describes a to be situation in adequate but not excessive detail. It clarifies both what needs to be achieved while leaving enough room for individual creativity by those aiming for the results.

As storytelling delegators, we are also responsible to make sure those we delegate to know what we want them to achieve, while leaving enough freedom for them to be creative about it.

Good delegation requires you to describe the lay of the land

Describing what needs to be achieved is not enough. Contrary to the outcome, stories go into a lot of detail when describing the lay of the land, the situation and the context in which a certain objective needs to be reached. The witch is described in elaborate detail. The trails of the hero and the adversity he faces are described with loving detail.

As delegating storytellers, we are responsible to describe in as much detail as possible our experiences and our understanding of what they will be faced with when executing the task.

Good delegation leaves room from own creativity

Stories are a powerful medium. They are made more powerful by what they do not tell. They leave a lot of room for interpretation, hence for creativity. This, in an aside, is what was reduced by radioshows and almost completely lost by tv shows … our minds are less stimulated to fill in the blanks.

As delegators who tell stories, we are responsible to leave room for creativity, by allowing those we delegate to to bring their own solutions to the table.

Delegation through storytelling requires an investment … from you

In short, storytelling provides a good framework for delegation. However, it requires some time to tell a good story. Delegation is therefore not pushing away tasks, but it requires a real investment in time and means from your side as well. Doing this will, if you work with motivated people, lead to better outcomes. Try it sometime.