How to Assign Undesirable Tasks to Others

Part of managing others is determining, communicating, and measuring the tasks they are responsible for completing. You can find yourself responsible for assigning tasks when you’re having a family cook night and assigning roles to your kids, or determining who on the team you manage should pick up an urgent task. The need to assign tasks to others will be a difficult undertaking should you say the wrong things and do a bad job preparing others for what’s oncoming. Your allocation of roles and tasks can be met with emotion and unwarranted push-back based only on how you present them. This article aims to remind you of two things to remember when assigning tasks to others.

Use What They’re Good at “Against Them”

In order to start off with an edge when assigning tasks to others, you must be in tune with what they’re good at and have pride in doing. Should the task at hand require the expertise of someone you know who can do the job, you must make their expertise be known to everyone involved. During your presentation of a task, make sure you first mention what skills are needed for this task to be completed effectively and who around you possess the skills required for the job.

For example, if you’re baking with your kids and need someone to measure flour, mention how precise Joseph is when he pours milk for his sister Julie and that he should be the one measuring the flour. In this case, you’d be using Joseph’s prior successes to set him up for adoption of, and success in, the upcoming task.

Mentioning what someone is skilled in prior to assigning them a task makes it difficult for them to reject ownership of that task. Should they refuse to take ownership of it, they’ll essentially be disagreeing with your analysis of what they’re skilled in. In the case when the person you’ve chosen to complete a task is unwilling to do it, there will be a dissonance between their pride and their willingness to complete the task. Their pride will drive them to accept the ownership of the task at hand while their logic would be steering them away from it.

Your job will be to ensure that their pride wins the battle of others accepting unfavorable ownership of tasks. In order to do so, you should go a bit further than just mentioning what they’re good at. Giving them favorable reasons to take on ownership will help your case.

Recommended Book: Educated: A Memoir.

Mention Altruistic Reasons

People like being credited for being altruistic. We like being responsible for helping our team, our family, and others around us. Helping others gives us a sense of purpose as well as responsibility. We perceive those who help us as providers in some sense, providing the help we desperately need at that moment in time.

After you’ve mentioned the reasons for choosing a specific person based on your analysis of how their skills align with the task, it’ll now be time to mention how much they’d help others by accepting ownership of a task. Begin to mention how important the task in question is to those around you. List the reasons why this task is important, and who its completion will benefit. Your goal in this phase of assigning tasks should be to make the task seem important but not unbearable in difficulty. Be careful of making a task seem so important that it begins to seem impossible to complete successfully.

For example, should Joseph have second thoughts about measuring the flour needed for the cake you’ll be baking, mention how important this step is in the process of baking a cake. Mention how the flour he measures will ensure the cake comes out perfectly textured. Express the fact that flour is the base ingredient of the cake itself, and that by getting the measurement correct, the whole cake will be set up to be delicious.

People should understand the importance of completing the tasks which are being assigned to them. This importance will further encourage their pride to motivate them to accept ownership of, perhaps the more undesirable, tasks in question. This exercise should not only be directed at the ones being asked to complete certain tasks. Ensure that all others on the team hear what you say about the importance of the task in question. Your job is not only to sell the importance of completing a specific task to the person who’ll be doing it, but also to the people who will be benefiting from its completion. Ensuring a universal perception of importance is important in establishing an altruistic trait to the task in question.

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Disclaimer of Opinion: This article is presented only as opinion. It does not make any scientific, factual, or legal claims in any way.