Why Should a Manager Delegate?
Delegation as a business owner or CEO is the art of passing the right tasks, to the right people to save you time and create better organisational efficiency. As business leaders, being able to delegate is vital in order to allow you to focus on higher value items. It is also a key part of developing the people around you to ensure they are continually challenged and learning new things. Without it, business owners can become overrun and overwhelmed with workload and become controlled by the tasks they have to complete. For most, this is the opposite of their goals from their business.
The outcome of time saving and efficiency has to be at the forefront of any act of delegating. For example, there may be little point delegating work now that you’ll end up redoing and spending more time fixing. Equally, delegation should not have a negative impact on other areas of the business, for example, if the person you delegated a task to isn’t competent it could affect customer service. So where to begin?
Delete, Delegate, Defer, Do
In the book The Power of Focus, Jack Canfield, Mark Victor Hansen and Les Hewitt provide a 4 step efficiency process for emails; delete, delegate, defer, do. I’d argue that the same principle can be applied to just about any task within your organisation.
The first thing to look at is, is this task something that has to be done, or can it be removed. When looking at emails it’s easy to move a spam email to the bin, but for other tasks, this can be harder to identify.
The starting point always needs to be your overall vision and goal. What are you trying to achieve as a business? Once you’ve nailed this down, each activity that is performed within the business can be reviewed to see if it is adding value to the customer along the journey and moving you towards that goal, or if it is unnecessary or ‘waste’. This waste is what can be deleted.
So, this can be done at organisational level, but as an owner you can review the tasks you spend your time on to identify the same.
It’s then important to identify how you as owner / CEO fit into this vision. It’s likely your focus needs to be on growing the business and you are taking the first steps to replace yourself in your business, which means most of your time is likely to be spent in this area. However, once a vision is created a clear Accountability Chart should be created highlighting what the business team structure needs to look like to get to the next step in it’s journey towards its goal. Each of the ‘seats’ highlighted on the accountability chart should have a clear role, metrics and list of outcomes that position is responsible for.
Although this structure isn’t required to delegate, it can make delegating far more effective and makes the next step easier.
Before you delegate a piece of work or task you should think about the following things:
- Competence - Is the person you are passing the task to competent to complete it. Ideally, they would be able to complete the task better than you could, but this isn’t always possible.
- Position - Is the person you are passing the task to in the right position to deal with this? (this is where structure helps). You may delegate to someone who is competent, but it might take them away from doing something else that is a requirement of achieving success in their role, or it may be that passing work to the wrong person can cause ‘politics’ within your organisation. This is why clearly a written down accountability chart can help provide clarity to the whole organisation on who is responsible for what task.
- Capacity - Does the person you are passing this work to, actually have the capacity to do so or will it cause risks (risking non-completion of other duties or work overload).
- Development - Does handing this task over require effective training? If it does, researching how to replace yourself in business may be of use to you. In short, having a process that allows you to confirm understanding of a task can provide confidence in passing that task on. For example, once a task can be completed (overseen by a supervisor) and the delegate has been asked questions to confirm understanding, the task can then be passed on.
- The PA/VA - You may have a PA (personal Assistant) or VA (Virtual Assistant) supporting you who can be invaluable, but without having clarity on the structure of your business it can be tempting to delegate almost every task to these individuals. Some tasks need to be passed to others who, because of their position, competence, capacity or development requirements are better placed.
- Inhouse vs Outsourcing - Of course, not everyone you delegate work to needs to be an employee of the business. If you don’t have the skillset, it leads to the popular question of Inhouse Vs Outsource? Should you hire someone inhouse or should you look to outsource that particular task or function? For example, in your finance department there are advantages and disadvantages of both hiring in house and outsourcing.
But there are some tasks that only you can do or based on your business situation they are tasks that you should do. Deferring work is identifying if the task is urgent and if it’s not, simply deferring it to another time.
Personally, I’m not a big fan of this particular point and it is the area I struggle with the most because I like to get things done and I think there are certain areas (like customer service) where responses and resolutions should be as quick as possible. But I also acknowledge that at times, by simply waiting, a task can become redundant and this is where it is good to defer. An example might be that you have reached capacity in your business and you are keen to take action to relieve this, but when you look at the reasons behind having lots of work on, it could be due to a current project that will end in a few weeks time, or staff holidays putting pressure on others' time. In this example, simply deferring the task to ‘fix’ capacity issues could mean the issue solves itself after some time.
When you have exhausted the possibility of deleting tasks, delegating to others and deferring tasks where appropriate, you then (unfortunately) must do them!