Effective delegation skills are one of the highest leverage skills any business owner or manager can have. But delegation is far easier said than done.
In this 7 Cool Tools for Fast Delegation series I have shared various apps and technology for communicating and managing delegated tasks. In this seventh and final post in the series I’ll focus on methodology not technology.
Based on 20 years’ consulting to businesses, I have documented The Hierarchy of Correct Actions which is a sequence of 10 steps which ends with delegation:
Let’s go upstream from delegation one step, to Automate. Before delegating a task ask yourself, “Does a human even need to be doing this? Could we automate this task? Is there an app? Could we develop one?”
There are some great automation tools available to small and medium-size businesses that were once only available to large companies. MYP Corporation for example, build custom apps for your business to automate large chunks of your workflow. MYP uses a modular framework that develops apps for far less than starting from scratch.
Steps seven and eight – Articulate and Vend – are passions of mine. Articulate (document) your processes using screencasts, video and visual procedures, and then Vend this information to your team by storing it in a self-service intranet platform. I use the term ‘vend’ because it’s like having a ‘multi-media knowledge vending machine’ in your organisation. Powerful.
You can imagine how much easier it is to delegate tasks when the delegatee can refer to such comprehensive and easy-to-understand visual documentation.
A quick example on that: A graduate of our Lightning Method training course has created their own ‘vending machine’. The accounting firm now trains a client services assistant (a high level admin role) in one month instead of three. The trainer’s time was reduced by almost half. That’s the leverage great systems provide.
Step 4 is to Discriminate between what adds value and what doesn’t in a process, and to never assume. One of the most irksome phrases you can hear in an organisation is when someone is asked, “Why do you do it that way?” and the reply is, “That’s the way we’ve always done it.”
Challenge whether a step in a process adds value to the client/customer, the business or to any other stakeholder. You will discover tasks and aspects of processes you can then Eliminate.
The Analyse step uses management methodologies to review processes. I recommend the Theory of Constraints and Value-Stream Mapping, as well as Functional ‘Swimlane’ Flow Charts for visually and logically analysing your processes. These allow you to streamline and optimise processes to maximise the outputs whilst minimising inputs. Again, more leverage you can achieve in your business.
You can see why this is a hierarchy or sequence of steps: For example, why document (Articulate) processes that are inefficient or unncessary! And why Delegate a task you can Automate?
Steps 1 to 3 involve shifts in thinking and culture within your organisation. It’s essential you Educate your team and get them on board with the Process Improvement and Knowledge Capture culture. Fleeting knowledge – such as repeated verbal instruction – should not be tolerated. Some people are threatened by systemisation and automation and will silently thwart your efforts. There are psychology, mindset and change management issues to be addressed.
For a small or medium business owner who is also an operative within their business (not just an investor or non-executive director), Steps 1 and 2 are essential if you are to build a well-systemised and highly leveraged business that does not rely on your ongoing labour and time. Evaluate your own strengths and weaknesses and then do not focus on improving your weakness. Rather, build upon your natural strengths and design your organisation around that. Designate clear roles based around functions in the business, not people.
If you’ve been experiencing challenges in achieving effective delegation, ‘go upstream’ and look for opportunities to implement changes that can reduce the amount of delegation you even need to do.
Share in the Comments below challenges you’ve had with your delegation skills or processes and what you’ve done (or will now do!) to address them.
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