Boomerang Delegating

“Boomerang Delegating” happens when you think you’ve delegated something to someone who reports to you and it ends up back on your “to do” list.

Why does this happen? What makes it boomerang back?

In our experience it’s usually because you assumed 4 things about the person you delegated to.

You probably assumed that this person is just like you. You probably assumed that they…

  1. Know what you know
  2. Understand what you understand
  3. Can do what you do
  4. Can do what you know and understand

In other words, you might have assumed that the person to whom you delegated the task was “competent” in the SAME WAY you are.

But clearly they weren’t or the task would have been done the way you wanted.

Very specifically in this case, we use the word “competent” to refer to someone having the specific skills to do a specific task, the way it’s expected to be done.

In this case, “competence” is NOT about their ability to do any other part of their job.

Just the one delegated task. The item you wanted off your “to do” list.

To prevent a boomerang next time, just use this rule…

You can assume that someone is competent if you have seen them do what you want them to do (in this task), to your satisfaction, at least THREE times from beginning to end, without coaching, supporting, nudging, cuing, or teaching.

If you haven’t seen them do it at least THREE times, don’t assume the other person is competent (in the thing you delegated to them).

To get them to the level of competence you expect, you may have to do some coaching and supporting to ensure they can do it, the way you want them to do it, by themselves.

You’ll know it worked when something moves off your “to do” list onto their “to do” list forever and never boomerangs back. That’s effective delegation.