Management is about leverage.
Most people work on a ratio of 1:1. They work for an hour and they get one hour’s productivity. Managers have to get far more leverage from their time than 1:1. A manager cannot afford to get only one hour’s productivity for one hour worked.
How can you get two hours productivity from one hour worked? It’s a fair question.
The obvious answer is delegation. But the challenge continues. How can you get three hours productivity from one hour worked?
But here’s the real challenge – How can you get 50 hours productivity from one hour worked?
Chicken feed. How can you get 100 hours productivity from one hour worked, every month, month in and month out?
Most managers view delegation from the perspective of time management. Dumping. If you dump enough stuff, you can get five, six, even ten hours of time back, but you are still working on a 1:1 ratio.
Only if you look at delegation as development, do you begin to understand true leverage. One hour can turn into 100 hours productivity. How would you like to work for 5 hours and gain 500 hours productivity over the next 30 days? It’s all in the way you think. So, how do you think?
“You will never, ever get what you want,” I was calm. “You will only get what you focus on. How will you focus? You think you can determine your future, but you can only determine your habits and your habits will determine your future. How can you build focus into a habit?”
Meredith replied. “I know what my business plan lays out. My goals are well defined. There are three. I will print those out, on card stock, tape them to the bottom of my computer screen. So, when I feel compelled to get buried in my email, those objectives will stare me down.”
“And what is the first of those three goals?” I asked.
“It’s funny,” Meredith smiled. “Develop my two lead technicians to take over supervisory tasks so I can focus on our system of production. And, every time I follow-up on a project detail, I destroy a development opportunity for my lead technicians to follow-up.”
“How different is this new department?” I asked.
“Oh, it’s different. The department I run now is full of technicians. This new role is all about merchandising and promotion. I will have to learn a lot,” Marsha replied.
“But, it sounds interesting to you?”
Marsha nodded. “Yes, it sounds interesting. More than that, I have always had an interest in marketing. I mean, I know I am in charge of a technical department, so this would be a challenge for me.”
“What will have to change?”
“There will be a learning curve, to get up to speed. There are lots of things I don’t know,” she admitted.
“Here’s the thing about any skill. There is always technical knowledge you need to know. But technical knowledge is learn-able. And, to get good at it, you have to practice. You may have an interest in marketing. You may have read a couple of books about it, but you have not practiced it. If you want to get good at it, you have to commit to practice.”
“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?”