How To Assign Work Tasks - Part 1

Questions This Guidance Answers: 
  • What do I say when I want my directs to do new tasks?
  • How do I make sure tasks are done on time?
  • How do I ensure I know my staff have done the tasks I set?

This guidance describes how to assign tasks to your directs.

One of the great examples of the utter lack of clarity regarding the teaching of management is the lack of guidance provided about how to assign work. Here's something we do every day, sometimes 20 times a day. But has anyone ever suggested to you there's a right way, or a better way? We'd bet money not.

Seriously, what kind of sense does this make? This is something we do a LOT. A LOT. And no one has taught us to do it right? We're not aware of a single source of information about how to be effective at assigning a work task to someone. Not one single one. If you know of one, please let us know.

We may be wrong - we're so frustrated by this that we know we're not as clear-minded as we need to be - but we think this boils down to the widely-held and completely wrong-headed idea that management is a personal choice, born out of personality and individual style. We'd like to repeat here for the eleventy-billionth time that leaving the system of managerial influence in a firm to individual choices and personality is perhaps the systematically dumbest thing we know of. Managerial influence - the practice of managing others' outputs - is the biggest, most important system in every organization. We continue to be amazed that after spending billions on systematizing purchasing, logistics, materials handling, accounting, safety, costing, vendor relations, expense reporting, site security, strategy formulation, enterprise requirements planning, information technology adoption, capability maturity models, and compensation decisions, to name just a few, we still have left the biggest lever of all unaddressed.

Somebody ought to teach this stuff. ;-)

  [Play in Popup]

Extra Content
    Manager Tools Personal License
    Interviewing Series
    First Job Fundamentals   

email or in person?

Does the method being discussed include if you are assigning a task via email?

Would you just put into written word the 'Hi X, can you please...' at the beginning of your note?

Help Desk System

Would you make any changes to this if assigning tasks to someone through a help desk applicaiton? 

How about this kid?

 How would one approach a kid like this that thinks being asked to do things a particular way or arrive to work at a particular time is a form of oppression?

not appropriate?

Regarding the clip of the guy in Wisconsin; sharing this kind of rhetoric on this site doesn't seem like a good use of the forum? The reason I bring this up is because I don't get to spend a lot of time on, and I'd like it to be focused without having to weed through political or social links.



Assignment vs. Delegation

I really appreciated this clarity, I hadn't thought through it before and this made sense that there is a difference and with that, a different level of communication is expected.

Again, I learn everytime I listen !


Practice makes perfect

Regarding the concept of practicing the things we need to do well, I heard a quote a long time ago that seems to fit the bill, especially for the purpose of this podcast and forum:

Amateurs practice until they get it right, Professionals practice until they cannot get it wrong.

I wish I could source it, but I have no idea who originally said it.

Thanks for another great cast.