AS A company owner, manager or leader, are you exhausted at the end of each workday? Are you tired of doing everything yourself? Are your team members unwilling to make decisions, coming to you for even the smallest of issues?

The truth is, many managers, who are skilled at a variety of tasks in their organisation or department, struggle with the one thing that can make a big difference — delegation.

It may seem practical to stay lean and mean, and do everything yourself. However, you need to realise this is not a formula for growth. You simply can’t do everything yourself, as you are not Superman. So, you have no choice but to delegate.

Pass it on

Follow these steps to help you effectively delegate work:

Admit that some bosses are perfectionists. They don’t really trust their people to make the right decisions and are simply unwilling to “give up control”.

If this sounds like you, the first thing you need to do is look in the mirror and admit that you need to change. Give up some control. Accept imperfect and different ways of doing things — you can always add in your “improvements” later.

Do a time study. Spend the next several weeks, if not months, tracking the things you do every day. Then rate your activities high, medium or low in terms of the skills and interest needed to complete those tasks.

You need to start looking at those tasks you are performing that are plotted in the lower left part of the grid (See Figure 1).

Figure. 1

Namely, those tasks that take medium to low skills and have medium to low interest from your perspective.

What proportion of your working hours is spent on them? These are tasks that you should be handing over to your subordinates.

Systematise the tasks that fall in the lower left part of the grid. That means, write down exactly what it takes to perform each task. Then ask someone in your team to perform each task after reading the description.

If it takes intervention from you to explain how to perform that task, you have not described it in enough detail. Your team member should be able to complete the task without you having to explain it. Keep doing this with all the tasks you have identified. You are now on your way to developing a “system manual” for your business or your responsibilities.

Assign these tasks to other people. You can hand them over to people within your team or company, or outsource them to service companies (bookkeeping, for example).

Periodically, track the results and make sure things are being done properly. You are now the “reviewer” and not the “doer”.

Review the decision-making processes within your department or company. List out all the decisions that are made in your business on a day-to-day basis. Determine what decisions can be made by other people and give them the criteria to make those decisions. I call this the “delegation of authority”. This is a guideline about who can make a decision and what facts are needed to make them.

An example would be how to empower your sales staff to offer discounts to customers. If the deal is of a certain amount, the sales staff can offer a discount of up to 5 per cent. However, a discount of up to 10 per cent will require the sales manager’s decision. Over 10 per cent, and the salesman or manager will require your (the owner’s) approval. Now that you have set the rules, your staff just have to follow them.

By doing the above, you will soon find that you have the time to focus on more important things in your organisation. Such things include strategising, planning, looking for new opportunities, self-improvement, business development, financing and building client relationships. With effective delegation, you are now working more on your business rather than in it.