This article was originally published on Brazen Life on July 5th, 2012.
You’ve logged a year or more at your company and now — finally! — there’s someone under you: the summer intern.
Having an intern means an opportunity to delegate, but you might not be familiar with how to do this effectively. Follow the steps below and you’ll not only rock your intern’s world this summer, you’ll also create more free time to impress your boss or take a mini vacation for yourself.
Choose What to Delegate
The best items to delegate to an intern are routine, replicable tasks. Perhaps a status report needs to be generated each week or an expense report needs to be filed monthly.
The benefit of delegating these regularly occurring tasks is you will have a high return on the investment of time you put into teaching them to the intern. You teach the task once and each week after the task gets done with minimal effort on your part. The benefit to your intern is that he’ll have time to practice and master the task you provided.
Two other prime candidates for delegation are anything you particularly dislike doing or anything your intern has expressed an interest in learning.
Create a System for Completing the Task
Before calling the intern into your cubicle, take a little time to clearly define the task you would like them to complete. This means writing up step-by-step instructions or annotating a previously written set of instructions.
Include exactly how the task should be completed along with the specific date and time by which it should be finished. (Make sure to leave time for your review of their work.) Also note any areas where the intern can make decisions.
Writing out instructions will take extra time up front, but it will save you time in the long run. Your intern will have a reference she can use instead of interrupting you every other minute with a question. Plus, interns come and go, so your instructions will be helpful to you when it comes time to teach the next person.
Start with one task. Walk your intern through the procedures you’ve written. You might feel tentative about letting go of doing that task yourself. What if they get it wrong?
Have the intern try a test run of the task, so you both can get more comfortable with it. Then provide feedback. Once the intern has a good handle on the first task add another, and so on.
It can be tempting to quickly make a few changes to your intern’s work yourself, without giving them feedback. Resist this urge. Clearly communicate to your intern what you’d like to be done differently so she’ll learn and get it right the next time. Also emphasize elements of her work that she’s done well, so she’ll continue to do it that way going forward.
What To Do With the Free Time You Create for Yourself
You’ll be pleasantly surprised by how nice it is to have a well trained intern completing aspects of your job for you. Those mundane tasks that you delegate will free up a good chunk of time.
With this new free time you can ask for more work or decide to take a day off, knowing your intern will have things under control. Just remember that even though you’ve delegated tasks to your intern, it’s still your responsibility to make sure they get done.