How to Make Others Do Your Work

and Other Fantasies

Did you ever daydream about being one of Cinderella’s step-sisters? Cinderella, polish my shoes. Cinderella, iron my dress. No? Is that just me? Oh well. Yet it seems I keep hearing from friends and clients: “I need to delegate more.” And then, immediately afterward, they say, “But I don’t think there’s anybody who will understand my work and do it the way I would.

As a result, nothing gets delegated, and they are left doing everything for themselves and maybe missing the Palace Ball. The problem is not a lack of capable and committed people willing to help. It’s that people simply don’t know how to delegate and are afraid to let go, even a little. So, they assume there’s no way forward. Here’s what I recommend to be a delegation step-sister (or brother):

Research and ask yourself questions:

What skills does the person helping you need to have? Make a list of the things bogging you down in your work; things that will free you up to do what you love in your business. Just like hiring an accountant to do your taxes, you’ll want to find someone with experience in these areas. If you need to delegate setting up your newsletter, find someone with experience using Mailchimp, Constant Contact or a similar program.

You wouldn’t hire someone who knows nothing about dress making to create a ball gown (there are so many ways that scenario can go wrong).  Delegation of your business needs works the same way; specific skills are required.


You’ve got to give the person doing the work enough time to schedule it into their calendar and get it done. This requires planning ahead. When I write my newsletter or blog posts, for example, I ask my editors early on if they have time for edits so I can post or publish on a specific day.

Be specific:

This is SO important! Even if it’s a simple and (in your mind) self-explanatory task. Include details, timelines, and any supporting information. For example: “I’m ready to publish my next newsletter. Attached is the word document and the images I’d like to use. Can we schedule it for this Friday at 6:00 am?

Be thorough:

Include deadlines and guidelines about how you’d like the work to be done. Create check-in times. Communicate, communicate, communicate. When you work with someone, you are in a relationship with them. You don’t need to be BFFs, but simple things that work in your other relationships will work in this one too. Be sure to answer questions about the project quickly so that it can stay on track and on time. Your work together will require conversation – either written or verbal.

My guess is that 99% of the time the person assisting you wants to do a good job. If that’s not happening, check these five points to see where you two might be off track. Delegation is a powerful tool to leverage your time and get help with areas of your business where you might not have expertise. Done well, it can be a big win for you and your business.