Tag Archives: delegation

Hidden Power of Delegation

“So, how much time do you want to save?” I asked again.

“It’s going to take me an hour to complete the task. If I can delegate it, it will save me one hour. That’s how much time I want to save,” Roger replied.

“Pittance,” I said.

“Pittance?” Roger didn’t understand.

“If all you are going to save is one hour, then you should complete the task yourself.”

Roger sat upright, a little surprised. “But, I am supposed to delegate more. My manager has been encouraging me for the past year to delegate more. Now, you are telling me I should do the work myself.”

“If you think, all you are saving is one hour, then, what’s the point of delegating. I am looking for leverage from your role. I want you to save one hour and get five hours of productivity. I want you to save one hour and get ten hours of productivity. Twenty hours, fifty hours. You will never get that kind of leverage if you think delegation is a time management tool.”

“But, you said that delegation was my most powerful time management tool?” Roger protested.

“It is,” I responded. “But, it is also your most powerful people development tool. If you think about delegation as time management, you will only gain one-to-one leverage. To get one-to-five, or one-to-twenty, you have to think about delegation as a people development tool. That’s the real power of delegation.”

Running Out of Gas

“I know,” Roger replied. “The reason I don’t delegate more is that I don’t have time to teach the skills in the task. If I stop to teach, the ordeal will take 45 minutes and I will still have to do the work over, anyway. If I just do it myself, I can finish the task in 15 minutes and get on to the next thing.”

“Roger, the last time you took a road trip, did you run out of gas?” I asked.

“Well, no, of course not,” he chuckled.

“But, you were excited about getting on the road, likely in a hurry to get to your destination. Why did you not run out of gas?” I pressed.

“I stopped to fill up before I left town,” his chuckle disappeared.

“As a manager, you don’t have time to teach someone how to complete a task. It’s like running out of gas on a road trip because you didn’t have time to fuel up.”

Roger was silent.

“Why did you fuel up before you left on your road trip?” I wanted to know.

“Because it’s necessary,” Roger’s face was turning red. “It would be stupid to run out of gas because you didn’t have time to fill up.”

“The reason you don’t delegate, is because you haven’t made it necessary in your life as a manager.”

The Problem with Delegation

“How much time do you want to save?” I asked.

“I want to delegate this project because my manager told me that I needed to delegate more to my team,” Roger explained.

“Why does your manager want you to delegate more?”

“He thinks, and I agree, that I have too much on my plate. I work too many hours and many things don’t get finished. My manager thinks if I delegate some of my projects, that more things will get finished.”

“So, what’s stopping you from delegating more often?” I wanted to know.

“The things I have to do are complicated. I can’t just dump them on someone, they won’t know what to do. They will do it wrong and I will have to come back and fix it anyway.”

“Really?” I looked surprised. “Here are some other reasons you don’t delegate –

  • Your mother told you if you wanted it done right, you had to do it yourself.
  • You don’t trust your team.
  • No one on your team is competent enough to complete the task.
  • Your team members are already overworked.
  • You don’t have time to train someone to complete the task.
  • Your team will resent you dumping more work on them.
  • You will lose control.
  • You will have to actively manage other people, when you have difficulty managing yourself.

Does Delegation Save Time?

Emily was already in the conference room when I arrived.

“So, what’s the purpose for delegation?” I asked.

“That’s easy,” Emily replied. “To save me time. I have a lot of stuff going on.”

“And if you are able to effectively delegate, what does the team member get out of it?”

Emily looked puzzled. “Well, I guess.” She stopped. “I guess, maybe, that they learn something new.”

“Good, learning is good. What else?” I probed.

“Well, new. Something new would be more interesting. Maybe learn a new skill. Maybe a sense of accomplishment, pride?”

“Good. Now tell me, Emily, do any of those things have anything to do with time?”

“Well, no.”

“So, what do they have to do with?”

Emily was tracing the conversation. “Learning, interest, new skill, accomplishment, pride. Sounds like learning and development,” she finally concluded.

“So one purpose for delegation is to save you time. Delegation is your most powerful time management tool, and it is also your most powerful learning and development tool.”

What is the Purpose for Delegation?

“So, you have selected something to delegate?” I asked.

Marion nodded.  “Yup. I know you have been telling me that I had to get something off of my plate.”

“Why did you pick this project?”

“You said to pick something.  This project will take me about an hour.  I can delegate it, save myself an hour,” she explained.

“So, the reason you want to delegate this project is to save yourself an hour.  You have traded one hour for one hour.  That’s a one to one leverage of your time.  Not good enough,” I challenged.

Marion furrowed her brow.  “What do you mean, not good enough?  How can I trade an hour for more than an hour?”

“If your purpose for delegation is just to save some time, you will always trade one hour for one hour.  My challenge to you is to trade one hour and get ten hours of productivity.”

“One hour for ten, how do you do that?”

“While delegation can be a powerful time management tool, it is also your most powerful people development tool.  If your purpose is NOT to save time, but to develop people, what changes about the leverage you get, as a manager?  Can you spend one hour developing one of your team members and get ten hours of productivity back?”

The Just Reward for Hard Work

I had a hot tip to stop by and visit with Brent. As I entered his office, I noticed his eyes were sunk in. It was Friday, but he didn’t look like he was ready for the weekend.

“You look like crap,” I observed. “When did you get here this morning?”

Brent sat up, a bit startled. “Oh, man,” he said. “I rolled in around 5:00a. I just had to get some stuff done.”

“And when did you leave last night?”

“Well, I got out of here about 9:45p. I don’t know what it is. This has been going on for the past three weeks. On Monday, things don’t look so bad, but come Thursday and Friday, the work just seems to pile up. I have worked the last three Saturdays and last week, had to come in on Sunday. Missed the football game.”

“So, this is not some special project. Just your regular work,” I inquired.

“Yeah, in fact, if I had known about it ahead of time, I could delegate some of it out and it would already be done. But I don’t know about some of this stuff until it’s too late, or don’t realize how long it is really going to take. All of sudden, the pile is stacked up and everyone has gone home. The work’s gotta get done.”

“Brent, what if?” I started. “Brent, what if I don’t believe you.”

How to Deal with Procrastination

“I am trying to promote this team member, Rachel, into a new role,” Janice explained. “But she seems to be dragging her feet.”

“Tell me more,” I asked.

“I think she wants the position, appears interested and excited. But you told me that I could not promote someone without clear evidence of potential. So I have been giving her longer time span projects than she has in her current role. In the delegation meeting, she is very responsive, but she never gets started.”

“What do you mean, never gets started?” I wanted clarification.

“Part of the delegation meeting, I describe the project, the vision of what it looks like when finished, including very specific performance standards of quality and deadline. I asked her to write out a step-by-step plan so we can discuss her approach to the project. That was last week. Nothing. She is dragging her feet.”

“How long is the project?”

“Six weeks. Six weeks is a reasonable amount of time to complete the project. I set a very specific deadline, but, now, that’s five weeks from now. She might still be able to get the project completed, but likely now, it will cost some overtime.”

“What do you think is going on?” I pressed.

“She is good at three week assignments. Now that you mention it, every long project she works on, takes about three weeks. Even four week projects. She procrastinates, says she works well under pressure. She’s right, she will stay late, come in early. I like her dedication, but sometimes coming in early doesn’t solve the problem of a long term project.”

“How so?”

“If you burn a week on a four week project, you can come in early, make up some time, but if there is a four week lead time on material, the project will be a week late. There will be blaming behavior, but it’s still a four week lead time for material.”

“What do you think the procrastination means?”

“I think it is an indication of capability,” Janice thought out loud. “I know you tell me to focus on the work, that capability is all about the work. If the target completion time of the project is further out than three weeks, Rachel underperforms to the deadline. It’s always a last minute scramble and something falls through the cracks.”

“So, what are you going to do, as her manager?”

“It’s a good thing we have three week projects. And for longer projects, I will have to break down some interim milestones. It means I will have to manage the longer time span elements. In the short run, that is workable. In the long run, I may have to make a different move.”
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Buy the book, Hiring Talent. Take the course, Hiring Talent.

Working Leadership Course – Fort Lauderdale

Aug 6, 2013 kicks off our next Working Leadership Series in Fort Lauderdale Florida. This program contains twelve modules in six classroom sessions. The program instructor will be Tom Foster (that’s me).

If you would like to pre-register for the program, use the Ask Tom link, tell me a little about yourself and we will add you to the pre-registration list.

Schedule (All sessions – 8:30a-noon)
Session 1 – Tue, Aug 6, 2013 – Orientation, Role of the Manager, Time Management
Session 2 – Mon, Aug 12, 2013 – Working Styles, Communication
Session 3 – Mon, Aug 19, 2013 – Positive Reinforcement, Team Problem Solving
Session 4 – Tue, Aug 27, 2013 – Planning, Delegation
Session 5 – Wed, Sep 4, 2013 – Decision Making, Accountability
Session 6 – Mon, Sep 9, 2013 – Effective Meetings, Coaching

Location – All classes will be held at Banyan Air Services in Fort Lauderdale FL in the Sabal Palm Conference Room.
Banyan Air Services
5360 NW 20th Terrace
Ft. Lauderdale, FL 33309

Tuition – $1600 per participant. Vistage member companies receive a $100 discount per participant. This includes all books and participant materials.

Curriculum

Session One
Orientation. During the initial Session, participants will create both a company and a personal framework, setting expectations and direction for this program. Participants, through directed discussion, create the connection between the program course material and their day-to-day management challenges.

Role of the Manager. Introduces the distinction between supervisor and managerial roles. Clarifies the specific goals necessary for effectiveness. This module creates the foundation on which rest of the course material builds. Incorporates source material from Requisite Organization – Elliott Jaques.

Time Management. Introduces the textbook Getting Things Done by David Allen. (Text included as part of the program).

Session Two
Working Styles.
Participants will complete a DISC survey (DISC is an online instrument published by TTI) and report on their own identified strengths and working style.

Communication. The largest challenge, for most managers, centers on issues of communication. This Session will introduce participants to a new level of conversational “reality.” Introduces the text, Fierce Conversations, by Susan Scott, as reference material. (Text included as part of this program.)

Session Three
Positive Reinforcement

This segment reviews the management research of Elliott Jaques and Abraham Maslow regarding “why people work.” Explores the role of positive reinforcement outlined in by Aubrey Daniels – Getting the Best Out of People.

Team Problem Solving.
Expands Fierce Conversations to the group setting. Designed to move a group into “real work,” using a team problem solving model. Demonstrates how to build a team through problem solving.

Session Four
Planning.
This segment introduces a results-oriented planning model, based on David Allen’s Getting Things Done, which participants can quickly use in any situation where planning would be of benefit.

Delegation. Participants are introduced to a specific model of effective delegation. Most managers hold certain mental blocks to delegation that prevents them from using this powerful developmental tool. This delegation model challenges these mental blocks so the entire team, manager included, can benefit from delegation.

Session Five
Decision Making
. This segment introduces three decision models that participants can use to make decisions in specific circumstances. All models can be used in a team setting or for an individual decision.

Accountability Conversation. Introduces a results-oriented method to hold individuals and teams accountable for desired results. This combines concepts of Time Span, QQT Goals and Management Relationships.

Session Six
Effective Meetings.
Moves from theory to the practical application of team dynamics. How to run a more effective meeting.

Coaching. This segment takes the communication models we have previously used and integrates them into a conversation specifically designed for coaching subordinates.

If you would like to pre-register for the program, use the Ask Tom link, tell me a little about yourself and we will add you to the pre-registration list.

How to Delegate, Not the Right Question

“I guess I am feeling a little burned out,” Cynthia said. “There is just so much to do, now that I am a manager. I feel stretched, way stretched.”

“How did the manager, before you, handle all of this workload?” I asked.

“Oh, that was different. I am still working all my old job responsibilities, plus my new responsibilities as manager.” Cynthia stopped. “So, I am working twice as hard. No wonder I feel burned out.”

“Who do you plan to give your old responsibilities to?”

“Well, I am trying,” Cynthia continued. “I just haven’t figured out how.”

“Wrong question,” I said.

“What?” Cynthia was startled.

“Wrong question,” I nodded. “You will never make any headway figuring out how. You will only make headway when you figure out who. The solution is almost never a how, it’s almost always a who.”

“So, I should stop trying to figure out how I am going to get it all done and focus on who is going to do it?” Cynthia was surprised at her own question.

She knew the answer.

Accounting – What’s the Level of Work?

From the Ask Tom mailbag –

Question:
We are working on the structure of our accounting department. We have a comprehensive list (spreadsheet) of ALL the tasks that need to be completed from daily transactions, to weekly flash reports, to monthly financial statements, to quarterly reports and annual compilation activities. But all this work keys around, seems to be performed by one individual, the accounting manager. We have two additional people in that department, but we need help figuring how to distribute the work to the right person.

Response:
This is an accounting department, but the same principle applies, no matter the discipline. The futile approach would ask “Can this person do this and can that person do that?” The result would be a helter-skelter mish-mash of who would be accountable for what. It might help, but you would remain in a state of disorganization. Especially where you have a spreadsheet of tasks, enough to go around for three people in your accounting department, you need a systematic way of figuring this out. This is not complicated.

You say you have a spreadsheet. As comb through the list of tasks, the central question is to identify the Level of Work. Add a column in your spreadsheet that identifies the Level of Work (LOW) for each task. Your Accounting Manager needs to self perform those tasks at S-III and delegate S-II and S-I tasks.

S-I – Clerical, transactional input from coded paperwork, proofing batch transactions for accuracy, printing reports and schedules. This would include A/P and A/R data entry, timesheet entry, including job cost transaction input for labor and materials. Matching paperwork from work orders and POs to invoices received from vendors. Collecting, sorting and filing required paperwork to support higher level decisions related to disbursements or billing activities. [Scope of task assignments range from (1) day to (1) week to (1) month with no task assignments longer than (3) months].

S-II – Coding paperwork (making decisions) for transactional input, coding job costs of materials and labor including split allocations according to formula or system criteria created by manager. Reconciliation of accounts to workpapers. Second level review of transaction input from S-I activities. Compilation activities of reports and schedules required for routine reports for accuracy, completeness according to a publishing schedule created by manager. [Scope of longest task assignments range from (3) months to (12) months].

S-III – Creation of systems for all accounting functions, including documentation of steps, checks and balances, reconciliation points, review steps, identification of thresholds, risk assessment, and operating parameters. Third level review (signature) of transaction schedules for execution of disbursements (cash), movement of cash and cash management. Forecasting and budgeting. Cross-functional work with departments and divisions to support the financial analysis required for operational decisions (bid profitability, bid qualifying, project budgets, work-in-process, milestone completions, payment apps, collections). [Scope of longest task assignment range from (12) to (24) months].

You can flesh these guidelines out to assist in identifying the Level of Work in each line of your spreadsheet. Once the Level of Work is defined, it is easy to determine what tasks the Accounting Manager must self-perform and what tasks can (should) be delegated to appropriate team members.