June 17, 2009
Liz published this at 8:10 am
Ever End Up Doing Someone Else’s Work?
Susannah was an editor who worked me years go. She had a project that needed help and knew just the person she wanted to call … her friend Christie. Christie was an experienced editor on maternity leave.
A meeting was set. Christie came in to get the work. Susannah explained exactly what was entailed and when it was due.
When the due date arrived, the work never came. When the work came, it was less than what Susannah had described. Susannah ended up doing the work and paid her friend anyway.
Ever been there?
Some things to remember when you’re about to delegate work to a friend.
- Prepare for a friend as you would for someone you’ve never met. One clear signal to your friend and yourself of the business nature of what you’re doing is to treat the conversation as a strictly “work” conversation.
- Define the relationship as you would with a new client or a new employee. When we’re delegating to a friend, communication can complicate itself. Friendship filters can recast everything thatâ€™s said. State your expectations. Write out guidelines and share them.
- Leave room for the possibility that you’ve misjudged your friend’s skill set. As you describe the task ask whether this sounds like something he or she wants to do and has the time to do well.
- Explain everything as clearly and in detail. We tend to endow our friends with information they donâ€™t have. Understanding is often assumed — we assume they know things because they’re our friends.
- Take time to say what the work means to you and your situation. Let the friend know that you are depending on him or her for your success. State clearly why you’re delegating the work and what depends on part of the project that you’re handing over.
- Talk about who will make corrections or revisions to things that get missed if the work is incomplete or incorrectly executed. If at all possible, have time in the schedule for sending it back to your friend for such revisions.
- If your ability to communicate during this conversation seems difficult, call off the delegation. It’s better to find someone else than to move forward with what doesn’t seem to be a good communication already.
On the Internet, we meet and make friends easily, but sometimes we endow them with the “halo effect,” thinking their great personality is a sign of their great compentency.
Sometimes the only way to learn that we’ve gotten a wrong impression is by asking for help and finding out the person isn’t who we thought. Usually though, asking a few questions, and offering complete information can get us to a great working relationship.
We all have friends who are better than we are at so many things. Are you finding the right ones to help you when you need them?