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Submitted by timbarcz on


This *should* be an easy one.  I'm working on delegation but the problem I'm running into is that as I delegate more I have more to remember to follow up on.  For example, say I personally can handle 5 projects.  If I have 5 reports that can do the same, I effectively need to follow up on 25 things.

For example, when an email comes in with a something that is able to be delegated, I do so, but I also need to add a "follow up with Suzy about XX" and that feel cumbersome and like something isn't quite right.

How do you all manage tasks and delegation and follow up to make sure nothing hits the floor that wasn't intended for the floor.


donm's picture
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Outlook has a task function. Personally, I put all tasks into my cell phone as soon as they are assigned. I always put a date and time for a report, completion, or follow-up on all of my tasks. The phone keeps track for me. If I don't get the result, I speak with the direct and repeat the process.

GlennR's picture

Other calendars such as Lotus Notes and Google do as well. That's a great technique.

I use Evernote following suggestions from The Secret Weapon

There's another thread in this forum that has discussed it. (Don't let the cheesy name throw you.)

Doris_O's picture

There's a podcast for that... 

If you are already assigning status reporting with the task and are looking for away to keep track who is doing what when:
-- For small things already in an email I just flag the message in Outlook and give it a custom follow up/reminder date. 
-- For bigger projects I schedule a 15-30 minute working meeting with the direct, so that we can discuss the project status, next steps and/or troubleshoot any problems.
-- Everything in between is either on my calendar or on a project planning document, in which case the status is reviewed at a standing weekly meeting,

I'm happy as long as the tracking of the results takes significantly less time than achieving the results. 


delete_account_per_reacher_145083_dtiller's picture
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As a manager sometimes things make take you a little longer but it allows your directs to develop new skills and take on more responsibility.  As a manager it's important to give them these opportunties and then figure out the best way to manager their progress.  Doris has some great suggestions.  Figure out what works for you.


timbarcz's picture
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Thanks for the podcast recommendation - I have listened to that, the question is (in reviewing the show notes) that it doesn't address the best way to follow-up.  In one point it says that the responsibility lies with the manager and the last slide tells you to ask them to give status updates as part of the assignment of the task, however this creates a bit of a disconnect, if it's my responsibility (and it is) I end up having an explosion of things to keep track of....and that is specifically what I'm looking for advice on.



lindge's picture
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While you can ask your directs to report back to you on progress, it doesn't mean of course that they will or that they don't forget to complete one of your delegated items. There's no real silver bullet for this other than you being aware what you delegated and keeping track.  And you do have to find what works best for you.  25 items or 5 per direct is really not that much to keep track of. 

Where are you with respect to rolling out the trinity - 03s, feedback, coaching etc.?  If you have regular 03s, you could just add it to the list you want to cover in 'your section' each week with each direct.  It's very easy that way...And if you've rolled out feedback, you can than provide feedback in line with the MT model if they've successfully completed the delegation or likewise if they are behind on it, or forgot to provide you an update when they said they would.

Alternatively, you could try something like create an overall work tracker for your team (could be as simple as an excel spreadsheet, or word doc, or even a team whiteboard) and add new items in there when you delegate, and you ask the 'delegatee' to update it on certain dates.  Then you could just go to the one tracker to check in on progress to see where everything is at.

I think there are some simple ways out there like this to keep track of it all.  The key thing is to try something and either refine it if it doesn't work, or try something new.



Doris_O's picture

I understand and struggle with the same thing, especially since everyone who reports to me is part time or seasonal. Just like any other manager, I am responsible for whether or not everything gets done, whether or not I'm the one doing the work. So until someone has reported back to me that something has been completed (using the reporting structure I requested/we agreed upon), as far as I'm concerned the work was not done.

While I track nearly everything in my outlook calendar, the reporting methods vary greatly depending upon what the project or task is. From an outside perspective this could look like complete chaos, because I try to keep the reporting tasks intrinsic to each project.

I do have a pretty good project tracking spreadsheet, but found in the absence of any full time staff or a dedicated PM, it just creates more work/problems for me, so I've stopped using it. For some projects I have a simple (paper) project planning form; we just pencil in who is doing what when. It is quick and easy to update as needed, and works well for some but not all projects.

This all comes down to two things: 1) if it is not on my calendar it does not happen, 2) I prefer intrinsic reporting methods that create as little extra work as possible for everyone.

A few examples:

  • For a complex planning and scheduling (logistical nightmare) project -- there is a large master planning grid hanging in my office. Anything confirmed is written on a small green post it note and placed in the appropriate box (yellow=tentative, red=problems/questions). If nothing has been done the box is blank. I can see at a glance what has been done and where there are problems. It is faster to update and reference than anything we could do using technology. 
We meet at least every two weeks to review the overall status.
  • For mailings (the old fashioned snail mail type) - every Friday the building admin sends me a report of the quantities of collateral sent that each day. This lets her check that student workers are preparing the appropriate mailings each day as well as to report to me. When I don't get the weekly report or it is incomplete I know someone dropped the ball. The report helps me ensure our actual mailings and the associated costs are aligned with what I planned for and my department is being charged for.
  • For a project that was set aside last month to handle an urgent project, I asked my direct to give me a status update at our next O3 and made a note on his O3 tracking form. At the O3 we'll discuss next steps and assign new deadlines. Depending where we left off the next step will be either to deliver a draft for review or brief me verbally on his research. Either  deliverable will be added to my calendar when we agree on the deadline to ensure I have time set aside to do my part to give him what he will need to move forward.

In any of these situations someone could just tell me that they had completed some or all of the work, but its not nearly as effective. I would be stuck having to keep track of what they told me. So I prefer having the reporting be something that is a natural part of the work. It also helps if the reporting is routine, therefore predictable and noticeable when absent. That being said, I rely on Outlook heavily because there are too many things to do and keep track of.

It would be interesting to hear what others are doing.


lisas2's picture

 If I was in that situation, I'd probably adapt some sort of Kanban system. It works for much more than just software. Even 3 columns: To Do, In Progress, Done will give you tracking and the details of the tasks should give you the who/what/by when that you need. 

You can do it with post-its and a white board, you can do it with a web tool - the system is what gives you the visibility and tracking. If your organization allows you to try things on your own, you can give GreenHopper a whirl for free. 



pjean's picture

When I assign a work task, whether via email or in person, I add a task to Outlook tagged as "Waiting for" a la Getting Things Done.

Especially for the original example of an email, you can automate this follow up in Outlook with rules.  I copy myself on emails that I need to remember to follow up on. Outlook then has a rule on emails from me where I'm also CC'ed. These are processed as follows:

- Category set to "Waiting for"

- Flagged for follow up (puts the email into your tasks)

- Marks email as read and files it

Then during my weekly review, I check my "Waiting for" list to see if there is anything I need to follow up on.

In addition, if I ask for something from someone, especially directs, I will give a time and then modify that task's flag for that due date.

Note: I also have a rule for emails that contain "@Wait" to be processed the same way. This helps for times I'm away from my work computer when I need to make a note that I'm expecting something from someone.