Delegate some work to boost production

score Question:
It seems that every problem ends up on my desk and nobody can do their job without first reviewing every step with me. I really don't have enough time to do the long-range projection and planning for where I want the company to go. How does a person find the time?

With the holidays nowhere in sight, here's a gift you can give to your employees every day. By doing it, your employees will reward you with loyalty, longevity and expert problem-solving. Your company will grow, you'll make more money and you'll do less work.

Delegation is the gift that keeps on giving. True delegation means accessing employees' strengths, providing clear job descriptions and helping them develop skills. With that as a foundation, you let individuals go as far as they can to achieve agreed-on goals while you monitor their performance.

Here's what I consider a logical system for successful delegation:

  • Training and monitoring
    Begin by teaching each employee reporting to you their role, the job's key objectives and how the company monitors performance. You work with the employee through all phases of the job, with frequent updates. If it's a salesman, visit customers with him and keep careful tabs on the progress of the meeting. Review the results of the presentation and discussion with him and point out areas that could have been handled differently and why.
  • Management by objectives
    Set careful objectives with your sales or production managers. Let go of the training leash somewhat but continue to meet with them periodically to see how well they are handling the job. Establish and maintain authority by never overruling in public. Pass all changes, comments and instruction through them for the staff. Praise is welcome, but discreetly say what could have been done better.
  • Management by exception
    The production and sales managers are now fully trusted. You meet with them to flag you on important issues. The work autonomously, but you remain in the loop to provide help, support, evaluation and praise so they do not feel neglected and unappreciated.

As owner, your goal is to move through these three stages with your managers as expeditiously as possible. It's the only way you can hope to grown the company, lighten your workload and get away to refresh your mind and body for the long-vision planning.

Effective delegation is a skill every manager must develop - and every entrepreneur resists.

Company owners make two major errors in learning how to delegate. One is turning everything over and expecting the new person to run the job properly from Day One. This abdication. Knowing the job's technical elements doesn't automatically give a person insight into your vision, mission and culture.

The second is directing instead of delegating. This keeps you in the driver's seat and forces the employee to refer to you for all directions. Good employees won't stay long in this atmosphere, and you really don't want to be in charge of everything.

If you're having difficulty delegating, review the tasks you handle. Are these some you dislike that could be turned over to someone who could do them enthusiastically and well? Are you doing administrative tasks that a person earning $15 an hour could do independently?

Your time is invaluable to the company, but only when you use it filling the roles that only you can fill.

Bill Bryan is a counselor with the Service Corps of Retired Executives. SCORE offers counseling, workshops and seminars on small business operations. You can reach Bryan through SCORE, 515 N Court St. 815-962-0122, for information and appointments.

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