June 15, 2021

Double interview: How can executives delegate effectively at work?


Assigning tasks to your team so you can cross them off your own list seems easy enough, right? But when you forget who you asked to do what and never set timelines, delegation disaster strikes. You end up doing the tasks yourself and delegating doesn’t sound as appealing the next time. Sound familiar? This pattern often leaves Executives responsible for work they shouldn’t be doing and wondering how to delegate work to their employees effectively.

Since Double Assistants spend their days on the receiving end of delegation, there’s no one more qualified to advise on how to delegate better. So, we asked Megan Fitzgerald, a Double Assistant to seven executives, how to delegate effectively in order to complete tasks the right way the first time they are assigned.

Megan Fitzgerald Double Assistant

Why is delegating effectively important for busy executives?

Megan: Executives are sitting in their current position because of their talent, creativity, ingenuity, and passion. Writing a captivating email and sending out a thorough calendar invite didn’t get them into the C-Suite. If executives are not delegating effectively, they don't have time to do the important work that moves their company in the right direction. Instead, they'll be stuck in their inboxes, hung up on administrative tasks, or wasting precious energy on something that would be a breeze for an experienced Assistant.

What types of tasks do you take on for your Executives?

Megan: I sort out five inboxes every morning. Each executive and I have a color-coded priority system dependent on their business and current focus. I do a lot of calendar invitations and coordination, along with research for my executives. During fundraising rounds I find myself updating CRM systems and identifying their LinkedIn mutual connections.

Delegating effectively doesn’t just have to be about calendars and email, though. Recently, I helped an executive plan a trip to Bermuda with his whole team. From negotiating a competitive group rate at the resort to booking fun activities like swimming with dolphins, I was able to take those important tasks off the executive’s plate. I even found the best place to get a Rum Swizzle!

When Executives assign a task, what are the best practices you encourage them to use?

Megan: Whenever I start working with an executive and they ask me how to delegate effectively, I tell them to use the Double app. Having my responsibilities filtered through the app helps get my eyes on them faster. Plus, there’s a Chrome extension I use for even easier accessibility. I also appreciate when executives choose a due date so I get a sense of the urgency of the task and can plan accordingly. It sounds so simple but makes a huge difference.

What does "good delegation" mean to you?

Megan: Good delegation includes context, expectations, and timeline. If I'm doing a research project, or setting a meeting, knowing the context around each helps me better execute the task. It also allows me to do the "above and beyond" assistant magic that Doubles are famous for.

Assistants also need to know the expectations for tasks. Are there certain preferences I need to be adhering to? How much detail should I include? How many options would you like to see? Being specific is important and avoids further back and forth communication.

Most importantly, having a clear timeline is crucial. Knowing when a task needs to be completed and its priority helps us plan ahead.

Occasionally when an overworked or overwhelmed executive comes aboard, they don't have time to delegate properly. Educating them on how to delegate effectively is worth my time so I don’t receive a forwarded email that says "take care of this" or "do this" without any context or noted resources.

If you’re wondering how to delegate better to employees (or your Double Assistant), just remember context, expectations, and timeline. The rest will fall into place!

Why do you think executives are resistant to delegating? How do you help them overcome that resistance?

Megan: I think communicating the context of a project or task can feel "not worth it" at times. However, I encourage my executives to use tools like Double's voice memo to easily share a bit more context. Talking through it, rather than having to put more information on paper feels easier. I also remind them that the more time we spend working together, the more I'll understand their business as a whole. That's how we get to the ideal place of me being able to anticipate their needs.

Delegating effectively is a work in progress but as you build that muscle your life at work will get easier. Trust that your Assistant or other team members you’re delegating to are experts in their field the same way you are an expert in yours. Communicate your preferences, then let them prove how well they can execute. And while you’re at it be sure to learn how Double Assistants are helping busy executives focus on what they do best.

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