A 5-step process for handing-over work to other people

We all have things to do. Some of us have lists and lists of things to do. But that doesn’t mean everything on the list should be done by us, ourselves, alone. Before you take any action, slow down, look at your to-do list, and consider the following process for handing-over work to other people…


STEP ONE: Figure out what is for you and what is not… Ask 3 questions

What must I do myself?

  • These are the things that it would be wrong to give to anyone-else. This is your core functional and personal business. You can’t hand-over a personal medical check-up to someone else and you shouldn’t be handing over strategic decision making either.

What could I give to someone else?

  • Strictly speaking, this is everything left over after the first question. But its worth asking again as it gets you thinking about why you could hand it over. Sure, I like the grass to be cut in nice straight lines and sure I enjoy making that report, but I certainly could ask someone else to do these things.

What should I give to someone else?

  • Depending on your vision of work, your answers may vary. If you are the “Tim Ferris type” you might think that everything that could be handed-over should be handed-over. If you are feeling guilty about workload, you might feel that you should be doing it all yourself. This question is about the reasons why handing-over work could be the best thing for you, for others and for the organisation. Of all the things you could hand-over to others, what things should you give away so you can focus on bringing more value to the organisation? What jobs will give someone else the opportunity to grow and bring more value to the organisation?


Possibly, as you tried to answer these questions, you were thinking: “But there is no-one else!” and so the answers went as follows: Everything, nothing, not-applicable.

To really use this process, you need to forget all of this during step one and just move forward. Imagine a perfect world where you were surrounded with opportunities to hand-over work. Now go back and answer the questions!


STEP TWO: For whatever tasks you have decided should be handed-over to someone else, define the competence required for the job

Now you have listed tasks/jobs that you ought to give to someone else, answer the following 3 questions for each of them:

  • What knowledge is required to do this job?
  • What skills are required to do this job?
  • What attitude is required to do this job?


This step is all about defining requirements for the job. There may be other requirements like time, resources, specific environmental requirements… but right now, we are trying to imagine what competence someone would display in doing the job. Don’t worry yet about who does or does not have this knowledge, skill or attitude. Just name it.


STEP THREE: Think about the right people for the work

This is usually the point where people say again “But there is no-one!”. And telling you again to “imagine a perfect world” is too much to handle. So let’s get realistic about people with the following 5 questions. Answer them as they appear. Don’t get stuck on asking whether those people want to do the work or not…

  • Of the people who work for you, who could be good for this job and why?
  • Of the people in your immediate surroundings, team or department, who could be good for this job and why?
  • Of people in any part of your organisation, who could be good for this and why?
  • Of anyone else you know outside the organisation, who could be good for this and why? (yes, ANYone!)
  • Of anyone anywhere currently unknown (!?) who could be good for this and why?


Reading these questions, some people will find them ridiculous. But taking the time to ANSWER them often provides new insight. You might realise that this thing should never have been on your to-do list in the first place. Or that its time to recruit. Or that you have a bigger network than you thought. Or that your lower-level tasks can actually be awesome motivating work for someone else…


STEP FOUR: Take care before you take action

If by now you are ready to hand-over work to someone, just take a moment to define the risks associated with that:

  • How could this all go wrong? How likely is it that it will go wrong?
  • What will be the impact of this work not being done well?


Be careful with these questions. If you are into controlling everything or worried about letting people down, its very easy at this point to just think: “The risk is too high – I’d better do it myself”. But by now you should have realised that doing everything yourself is not the best solution ..or simply not possible.


STEP FIVE: Hand-over the work in the right way

Now it is time to actually give this work to someone else, take one last moment to consider the following 3 questions:

  • When is the right time to hand-over this work?
  • What support do you need to help you get the support you need?
  • How will you communicate the job hand-over?
  • How will you follow up on the work?


If you have followed the 5-steps and actually answered all the questions above, you might have realised a few things about yourself, the people you work with or your organisation. You might even be ready to hand-over some work.


Good luck!



Step-by-step guide to making infographics

Having snuck through the back doors I am in the 2nd ATD2015 session to be sold-out (ask me which was the first 🙂 where our speaker Mike Parkinson is here to help us do a good job faced with two simple truths: Most of the information we process and things we do happen intuitively. And visual cues always win.

(My apologies In advance for the lack of visuals in this post … jump to the end if you are impatient!)

A successful graphic is defined as one where the target audience gets the intended message (quickly). If you (or your subject-matter-expert) doesn’t like the graphic, that doesn’t matter. As long as the audience gets it.

To make good info graphics, we need to first have a good conceptual approach to communication: Think of your audience, define your message and then explain or prove your point.

As any presentation skills trainer (hopefully) knows, a good message has to have a blend of benefit and required action. For example: “Define a good message to be sure your audience gets the point.” (See also my little video on: “Creating Strong Messages“)

And that’s why you need to know your audience. Example: I buy a drill because I want to make a hole. But someone else might buy a drill to be sure that he never has to ask his Dad for a tool, because that would show dependence on a parent (!)

If you have your message clear, you need now to answer 2 more questions: “What do you mean?” and “How do I do it?” According to the speaker, these 2 questions are basically always the same. And that’s what we need to put in our infographic: First chunk the information, then assemble it in the right order, then visualise it.

To chunk the information, look at your message (its “what” and “how”) into the smallest possible parts. Then you need to assemble it into to a story. This doesn’t have to be a full story. Just a simple pitch which puts things in the right order. At this point, we haven’t yet visualised anything. We are just trying to get the right things in the right order.

When it comes to visualising your message, we need first to know what “kind” of message we have:

  • Process graphics tell us what has to happen in which ord
  • Graphs and charts tell us how number fit together
  • “Dashboard” images, analogies and metaphors tell us the state of something

OK, now we have our message, which is relevant for our audience. We have chunked it down into parts and made sense of the story. And we know which type of infographic it is.

We just need some images and a little creativity.
..and maybe some of these resources: 

…and now, for that magical moment: My first (prizewinning!) infographic on … wait for it … how to make infographics, made with penultimate (without a pen!) on my iPad in less than 5 minutes following speaker Mike Parkinson’s process.



Communication – diverse references

After a fun 2 days full of communication exercises and learning with IT consultants last week, I delivered the following references to the participants. Maybe there is something in here you can learn from?

General references

Basic communication

“Advanced communication”

Commercial communication

Presentation skills


  • Book on “ego states”, how you build your own “story” and all things “transactional analysis psychology”: TA Today
  • 10min video on “ego states” – how your perception of the other person impacts your ability to behave in the way you want

Thanks for reading!


The consultant you want to hire

One day, a client asked his consultant: “I have a problem. Can you help?”

The consultant replied: “If you want to discuss new solutions, please call my Resource Manager, Pierre.”

The next day, the client repeated his question to a competing consultant, working on the same project.

This consultant replied: “Is it about Java?” and when the client said “No”, the conversation slowly died.

On day 3, the frustrated client spoke with another consultant, again from a competing firm: “I have a problem. Can you help?”

Exercising beautiful active-empathy skills, the consultant found out exactly what the client needed.

Unfortunately, this wasn’t a problem she could solve.

On day 4, the client met the consultant he had been waiting for. Like the consultant before, having successfully understood the problem, one out of his own area of expertise, this consultant took the issue away and back to his business. His colleagues were able to take the ball and run with it. A few weeks later, he went back to his client to see how things had progressed.

Work in progress. Things looking good. Client happy.

Are you the consultant we have been waiting for?

Consultancy competences

In a recent training delivered by one of my colleagues, new joiners in one of the world’s leading consultancy companies got together to create a list of competences required to be a good consultant. Here is what they said:


You have to know some things…

  • ..technology solutions
  • ..how people work & listen
  • ..how to work with different character types
  • .. know about the client and how the work benefits them
  • .. how to be FAB to be heard…how to create rapport
  • .. the situation, values and needs of a client


You have to be able to do some things…


..and of course, you have to have the right attitude

  • ..be open to change (who is??)
  • …be pro-active
  • ..accept differences in opinion
  • ..being relaxed around new people
  • ..be confident
  • ..dare to ask for something, things you don’t understand or want to know
  • …be prepared
  • ..be open minded (and kill your sacred cows)


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Emma Williamson talks “Online Community Management”

Many companies are getting on the social media train, thinking about how different online platforms can help to create better internal and external collaboration, branding, knowledge sharing etc… In the social hype, mistakes are made and lessons learnt. Sometimes it helps to have a little help…


For this post, I interviewed Social Media Strategist and Community Manager Emma Williamson for her thoughts on how to manage an online community. Emma has spent the last few years helping to build one of the UKs most successful online “parenting-community” platforms. She is now working with the one of the UK’s fastest growing IT companies to help create a meaningful social-media presence. You can find Emma’s full bio at the end of the post…


What got you SO interested in social media, Emma?
I became interested in social media when on maternity leave with my first child. I joined a well known UK baby forum and got involved with moderating comments on the site. As a result of my experience in this area I was approached by iMama.tv to join the team and be responsible for managing the online community. As luck would have it, they also wanted some help with their social media so I threw myself in to learning on the job and built a successful brand across Facebook, Twitter and YouTube (achieving YouTube partner status).


When you talk about online communities, what do you mean by “community”?
A community in the online sense is any group of people brought together on a social platform by a common interest or goal, be it related to parenting, politics, music, sports or so on. A community will usually have it’s own set of rules and a hierarchy of membership. Whereas neighbours or friends may converse on the school run or in coffee shops, members of an online community interact through social networks such as Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn.


What would you say are the keys to successful community management, online or not?
A successful online community is one that is inclusive and evolving. It is welcoming to new members, and supportive of old and new alike. It has a set of guidelines or rules which are adhered to by the community. It’s a place where people come together for something they can’t or don’t get in ‘real life’.


What advice would you give to new community managers to first get the ball rolling and then create real engagement of members?
New and old community managers alike shouldn’t be afraid to get stuck in and engage with their community members. Whilst of course it is important for managers to make sure the community is running smoothly, it is also important that they are seen as a PART of a community and not just the enforcers.

Most communities have a number of hot topics – new community managers should familiarise themselves with the popular and controversial topics of a forum or platform as internet law has it these topics will come up time and time again.

But most importantly, community managers should develop their own voice and personality. Yes they have to toe the party line, but members will respect that they have ideas and opinions of their own.


Last question: What problems have you encountered in your work as a community manager and how did you overcome them?

As a Community Manager I’ve been lucky to oversee largely harmonious online communities however from time to time I’ve had to quell the odd uprising or deal with a particularly nasty troll or faker. I’m always taken aback when something or someone seriously disrupts an online community but as time passes people forget the upset and normal service resumes. My advice in these situations is support your community members, deal with trouble makers discreetly and move on.


Emma Williamson is a Social Media Strategist and Community Manager.

Her social media experience includes three years and counting as the Community and Social Media Director for iMama.tv, the world’s first video based parenting website. She is also working with IT Supplier Kelway UK Ltd to develop and deliver a fully integrated social media strategy across five major platforms, including LinkedIn, Facebook and Twitter. Emma is currently building a website to support her social media consultancy, SoMeForYou.

Married with two kids (three if you count the husband) and based in Hove, Emma is a BA Hons English Literature graduate with a passion for cheese, sci-fi and Mulberry handbags – not necessarily in that order…

For Gods Sake, Listen to Me!!

I’m sitting in a small outside dining area at my client’s office taking lunch, discretely eavesdropping on a meeting between a manager and her employee. It’s been 10 minutes now and the guy (employee) hasn’t managed to get a word in. Literally, every time he opens his mouth, she interrupts…


Managers and Leaders: Please listen to your people!!

I think this is one of the absolutely most important keys to successful leadership.


Real listening is all about Active Empathy. All you have to do is drop your ego, ask open questions and drill down to get some real understanding…

…not seeing any of that right now!!!


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Generation Y and New Intergenerational Issues, with Steve Gavatorta

In T+D Magazine (March 2012) from ASTD there is a great article from Steve Gavatorta concerning the arrival of Generation Y into management positions and the reaction of their baby-boomer direct reports. Any “young-gun” coming into a management position is bound to cause some upset for the more senior staff, but Steve argues that it is even worse this time, given the GenY tendancy to overlook some specific communication preferences of other generations (namely: face-to-face!). I contacted Steve with more questions, which he was kind enough to answer here…

(If you want to read the article first, follow this link…)


Intergenerational relationships have always existing in the workplace, just like intercultural relationships. Why is the emergence of GenY on the workplace causing so much “fuss”? How is the difference so different to previous generation-gaps?

I think the main reason is Gen Y’s strength and experience using technology – be it using advanced technological devices and/or social media venues to interact and communicate. Gen Y people grew up using these tools/methods to communicate so it is what “they know” and its comfortable for them. Meanwhile, other generations had to learn a bit later in life, so its harder for them to grasp and it’s not their main means of connecting and communicating…also some from other generations have also refused to advance with the technology/new communication methods – all of these reasons are creating a natural divide.


If we believe the communication experts, using non face-to-face methods for communications could lead to a lot of misunderstanding (GenY use these tools a lot). Add to this the initial intergenerational “culture” differences that cloud understanding and its even worse…. What do you think?

I agree wholeheartedly – this method of communication is creating the big divide…two things happen when people solely use non face-to-face methods to communicate: Firstly, messages can get misconstrued and misunderstood. Secondly, there is a missing human factor that gets lost as well (facial gestures, eye contact, tone, body language) which diminishes “meaning” in communication.  All these things lead to misunderstandings and “watered down” messages and leads to ineffective communication.

  Continue reading “Generation Y and New Intergenerational Issues, with Steve Gavatorta”

Honest or not honest, that IS the question!

My father used to tell me that I wear my heart on my sleeve. People know where they are with me and I always thought that was a good thing. Today I am starting to doubt this…


I am reading “Lila” by Robert Pirsig and he talks about the way the American Indian plains-people tend to speak from the heart, with no attempt to hide or wrap things up in clever or manipulative language. As a fan of assertive communication, I think this is brilliant: Just try to say exactly what you really feel and really mean. But Pirsig also adds that American Indian people choose well the moment to speak honestly… and I think this may be a weakness for me.


Example: My mother asked my years ago “How was dinner?” I replied “I enjoyed it thanks. I found the chicken a little dry, but with the sauce it was great”.


This was clearly a fault – I lacked some emotional intelligence – I needed to learn when to keep my mouth shut, not to criticise to quickly.


Today I am much better with such “affairs of the heart” (ask my wife!) …but when it comes to business I still seem to be constantly open and honest, even when I might lose out in the long run. Its not that I tend to criticise (like with my mother) but I always share what I am thinking, even when it might be in my own best interest to keep my mouth shut…


Example 1: Being the nice guy, I might make a price proposal, see that it is higher than expected and then immediately say “But I’m open to suggestions”

Example 2: I share constantly my ideas with people on how they could do their business better, even if they are in the same business as me.

Example 3: I try to make everyone happy first, rather than trying to win for myself first.

Example 4: I explain by email to a client WHY I did something differently than planned, thus opening the door for disagreement where my actions may have simply been accepted “as-is”.


In training on negotiation and collaboration, I help people understand how their attitude to working with other people has an impact on their relationships and results. We learn about the difference between a “blue attitude” and a “red attitude”:

When I was a younger trainer, I used to tell people that it was best to play WIN:WIN (blue). Now I don’t say such things. (First of all, I have a tendancy to get them to figure it out and decide for themselves, secondly ….) I would prefer to say that one needs to have a preference for WIN:WIN, but be aware and open to when it is time to be a little more “red”, notably when others are playing “red”.


And so, I think today that sometimes I should not be so nice, so open, so clear and direct. I can still value these things, but NOT DOING THEM ALL THE TIME is not equivalent to being not-nice, dishonest or indirect. Just discrete or less naive or strategic. (“Purple”, as Gavin Kennedy would say in “The New Negotiating Edge”).

What do you think?


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Answer 3 questions to convince your audience

When presenting for an audience, selling something or even just talking to another person, you need to answer 3 key questions. If you don’t, you will not get the attention or result you want.


In “The Presentation Secrets of Steve Jobs” @carminegallo notes one of these questions and says that its the only one that an audience cares about: “How can this help me?” or “How is this interesting for me?”. I agree that this is the bottom-line when it comes to presenting.


In order to answer that question clearly, I ask my training participants to get in the habit of literally answering the following 3 questions the audience is asking themselves and to do it asap in the opening of their presentation:

  • What is your point?
  • What’s in it for me?
  • What do you want from me?


An example would be as follows:

“Hi. My name is DAN and I’m here to tell you that the best way to kick-off a presentation is by answering the 3 core questions your audience wants to here about. If you listen to me, I’ll explain these 3 questions, their motivation and how to answer them. I hope you will be convinced to do this in the future when you present.”


Another example:

“Thank you for joining the presentation. I only have one thing to say tonight and its simple: My product will make your work easier. In the next 10 minutes, I will show you how its different features can help benefit you with very little effort from your side. I am convinced that you will be ready to collaborate with our company and I’m ready to answer all your questions in order to win the business.”


These 2 examples are quite different. Both are equally direct. Some might say too direct, but the 3 questions are clearly answered.


So: Go forth and answer these question as soon as possible. If you do, you will have the ear of your audience. The rest is up to you…


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