A cake recipe for delegation

My wife decides to make a cake. All is well. But then comes the dreaded, “Can you do me a favour?” This time, it is cutting the pears into slices and putting them into the cake tin. She knows I like using the slicer we have. What she doesn’t know is that I don’t want to peel and core them. In a normal situation, chances are I would say, “no”. Or I would do it against my will, but be grumpy the rest of the evening. I decided to try a different approach.

Rather than tell her I did not want to do it – to her dissatisfaction, or shut up and do it – to my dissatisfaction, I decided to tell her exactly what it was I would enjoy doing and what I did not really care for. The conversation went something like this:

“Can you do me a favour?”
“What is it?”
“Cut these pears and line this tin.”
Short inner wrestle, then: “I don’t mind cutting the pears, but I don’t want to core them.”
Enthusiastically: “I don’t mind coring them, I just don’t want to cut them.”
Happy to have found someone to do what I don’t want to do: “Great! In that case I will gladly cut them!”
Happy to have found someone to do what she doesn’t want to do: “Great! Then I will core them!”
And we made a delicious cake.

How often are you confronted with a task which needs doing? Are there times you would be willing to do some of it, but there are aspects you would rather not do? Are you able to tell the other person this and start an exchange over your needs and theirs? Try it! You might be as surprised as I was to find they are happy to do the bits you don’t want to do. Or maybe a third person is happy to do it…

The more you do what you want and allow others to do what they want, the more delegation becomes a piece of (pear) cake!


An example of what delegation can achieve.

An example of what delegation can achieve.
Photo by Pix_mh – Thanks!


One thought on “A cake recipe for delegation

  1. I often found and still find this to be true: being truthful in what you feel like doing and what not, and *communicating* it, the other person is usually relieved and things mostly end up being easier than one thought at first. How did that part go again about “communicating about your needs”? 😉 Thanks for the thought!


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