Many of us are content to do everything ourselves. In fact, we often ensure that we do everything ourselves by not telling anyone else how we do things. But what happens when we need other people to help us out? Think of those people as your understudies.
As I was watching Wicked for the first time on Friday night (because I don’t catch on to things until years after they are popular) I flipped open the program to see if any of the leading roles were being played by understudies that night. After all, I had paid a lot for these tickets and I was going to be bummed if I didn’t get to hear the “real deal.”
Then it occurred to me, we all have “understudies” in life, whether we plan to or not. No matter how hard we try, there will be a time where we simply can’t do everything. Either we’ll get sick, an emergency will come up or we will have just over-committed ourselves. The better we get at letting people help us, the easier it is when these situations arise. After all, the “show” must go on, and you don’t want the “ticket holders” in your life to be left hanging.
“If you want something done right, you have to do it yourself.”
How many times have you used that phrase as an excuse to not let others help you? It’s easy to point to other people’s failures as a reason to not delegate, but did you really set that person up for success?
Consider what would happen if the understudy for a major Broadway musical was given no script, no choreography and no direction. He was simply left to figure it out. No one would be a bit surprised when the performance crashed and burned would they? Make sure you don’t do the same thing with your understudies.
1. Take time for training
While it seems like taking the time to thoroughly train someone on a task takes far too long, it actually saves time in the long run. Give the person the right tools to succeed and you won’t have to waste time redoing it later.
2. Consider the person
Make sure the person you are asking for help has the skill set necessary to complete the task. You won’t ask a soprano to be the understudy for a tenor.
Make opportunities to assess the work others help you with. If something goes wrong, don’t simply take the task away. Help fix it. This will allow the person to learn rather than fail.
Photo Credit: Phanlop88