Someone told me it’s Christmas next week, that can’t be right?

The Christmas holiday as you are only too aware arrives once a year. In the UK, it’s a certainty. But every year. surprise! I have only just cottoned on to it. It’s next week. I thought I had a clear run through to January to get things done. How did that happen? Who sneaked Christmas into the calendar?

All of us have in our calendars regular events, things that take place every single year. It’s just not Christmas, what about parts of your product development process or financial year or the annual sales conference. Every single year Surprise!

I cannot tell you how often I’ve had someone cancel their place on a training session – because it’s year end. Year End. The very name of it makes it beggar belief that you can possibly not have known that this was heading towards you. Why did you either book yourself on a training course at that time or not plan your time and work to take account of it?

But we all do it or don’t do it.

Why is this in the slightest bit relevant to prioritising or delegation? 

In the clothing industry, there is a job that must be delegated. It’s important to get it 100% right. Once a season the manufacturers are sent packs to develop samples of products that may go in the range. The assembly of the packs is a very important but long winded admin task and there are hundreds of them. Twice a year this takes place and it is crucial to the whole cycle that it’s done properly. And every single year someone says to me “it would be quicker to do it myself” as they check them, get them done again or amended or indeed do it themselves.

Why are you expecting someone who has never done this before, to get this perfectly right first time without having had any time to practise the task?

There are two types of work. There are the jobs that most the time is spent practising for the real thing and the other where all the time is spent on the real thing. Think elite sports people or the fire service for the former and the rest of us for the latter.

I know that people get fed up of lessons taken from the sporting world but think about it for a moment. By the time that they get on the track or the pitch or court they have spent years and years practising every single tiny aspect of their game so that when they do it for real they do it right. Can you imagine delegating a week before the event, to someone with no experience or training, the job of running the marathon ? But we do do that or equivalent in our non sporting worlds.

Yesterday I mentioned that a crucial part of delegation is planning. Every year you have tasks like those packs so plan for them. Don’t delegate them the day or week before they need to be done for real. Delegate it six months or more ahead and as a part of the process include the requirement to do it right, and to get to being right by building in practise sessions. Sessions that have no impact whatsoever on the real thing which you or someone can review and give feedback.

As we head towards the end of this year take some time out to identify tasks that will need to be done next year. Think about who could do them and if they need practise time. And then plan to delegate the task much earlier in the process so they can practise and you can check it. Yes, this takes time but by prioritising someone else’s development. When things are stressful as the deadlines come towards you will be very thankful that you have one less task to worry about.

Now if you’ll excuse me I have some shopping to do. Presents, Turkey, Decs…. I should have delegated some of this weeks ago but I haven’t got time now. It will be quicker to do it myself.

I’ll be back tomorrow but in case I forget to say it have a lovely Christmas holiday.

Bridget Marchi is a learning and development consultant, executive coach and mediator. With over 25 year’s experience in publishing and online fashion she is passionate about working with people to develop strong foundation skills that will support them through their career. Whilst she has extensive experience of delivering classroom style she now offers online learning options with The Time Management ToolBox and Steps to Success, a self-coaching programme for long term success (click the link to get the early bird offer of just £20 – less than half price). She has also published The Management Jigsaw, a management induction course in a book.