Chris Croft
Tips of the Month Archive

Managing People Tip 7


Who to delegate a task to

Find out about yourself

The Management Potato

Encouraging ideas


Something for your office wall

The unbroken chain

Are you a successful manager?

Monkey rules

What are managers really for?

Person in hole

Getting your hands dirty

Weekly meeting

Some awkward questions

The three Value Disciplines

Captain of the ship

:::::The Unbroken Chain:::::

If you delegate a job to someone, or if someone promises they will do something for you, what do you do?

Most people leave it with the hope that it will be done, and a vague feeling of unease that it won't be. Perhaps they return to nag at some point, when the person who is meant to be doing it says 'Yes, it's all going fine. It's in the pipeline'. You have been fobbed off! Or maybe they forget about it until they discover that it hasn't been done and poo is all around.

So the thing to do is to get a date. Ask 'When will it be ready?' (by the way, if they can't supply a forecast date, then the question is 'When will you be able to give me a forecast date?')

You then write this in your diary, so that when the date comes around you will be reminded to check whether the promise has been kept.

They see you write it in your diary so they know you will be back then, so they are more likely to do it.

The reason why I call this the unbroken chain is because:

a) if they have not done it you get another date and put THAT in your diary, and so on until it gets done.(clearly if failure happens more than once then there is a larger problem to address. It's one thing to fail to do the job, but failing to keep a promise is worse)

b) if they HAVE done it, then what's the next action? Is it them again, or you, or someone else? Whatever, you put the next one in your diary.


A) if they haven't done it they don't get away with it.
B) if they have done it they get that's two incentives for doing it.
C) less stress for you, since you don't have to remember or think about tasks that have been farmed out to others.

I even put things in my diary if it's me that has to do them. For example 'Library books must go back by this date' or 'Hand in assignment by this date'. Then I can forget them until they come up. Less stress, more efficiency.

By the way, if the assignment needs to be started 2 weeks before the due date I put the 2-weeks-ahead date in my dairy. Similarly, if the job is vital I might decide to check on the person a week before, and the earlier date is the one that goes in the diary.

Conclusion: write everything down.

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