I delegate a lot. It’s the nature of being a strategist and advisor.
And with that, I’ve had to learn how to do it effectively. We all need to learn this skill, and yet so few people have it.
It all comes down to how you structure your request.
Personally, I hate when someone tells me to do something. Even when they say please.
Why? Because it’s usually phrased as a command, not a request. And if I wanted to be commanded to do things, I’d join the army (or get a J.O.B.).
Here’s an example of an innocuous request:
“Please do this task and follow up when it’s done.”
Why oh why does this rub me the wrong way? They said please, right?
The main reason, at least for me personally, is they’re not really asking you to do it. They’re telling you to do it. They’re flexing their authority—whether they really have it or not.
Sure, it might be my job. And yes, I might do the thing they ask for.
But there’s a better way to ask. A way that will make people feel better when they receive your request.
You actually ask. You form it as a question, not a command. Which means you are actually making a request.
Here’s the better way to structure this sentence:
“Can you please do this task and follow up when it’s done?”
You might be like most people and think this is purely semantics. Or that I’m being overly sensitive about this topic.
But I’d disagree. Especially because tone rarely comes across in text—which is how most requests are made these days are made.
Your implementation partners, staff, clients—and whomever you’re asking to do something—are your peers. Regardless of their role, they’re not your subordinates.
They’re professionals doing their job.
By commanding instead of requesting, you’re implying that you’re in control of their work.
You’re not. You’re doing your job and they’re doing theirs.
By actually forming your request as a question, it shows you respect them and their time. You’re not telling them (even if you are), you’re making a request.
It might be subtle, but I’d much rather do something for someone who asks than perform a task by someone who commands it. No matter what the circumstance is.
I see it all the time and I honestly think it’s the difference between a good delegator and a bad one.
Rookies command. Seasoned vets ask. No matter the job, no matter the task.