In 2007, when I first took over Allied Equipment’s Alternative Fuels product line, I was still a young and untested leader. I still had not produced enough for the company to be what John C. Maxwell would consider a “level three leader”. Delegation was far from a priority as I chewed up opportunities one after another trying to prove myself.
This high level of production pulled me up the ladder quickly. I was first promoted to Director of Business Development, then soon, Vice President of the entire company. But producing will only take you so far. At the Vice President level, I found a new problem. I was doing too much and didn’t have time to do what I was being asked to in my new role.
This is a typical path for many leaders. Most leaders I meet around the country have long since learned the law of sacrifice and are willing to put in the time and effort to move up the ladder. But at some point the law of diminishing returns takes effect. They can no longer sacrifice anything else; they’ve already sacrificed it all. They can’t put in longer hours; their entire 24-hours are accounted for.
If not addressed quickly, a leader will stall at this level and fail to progress any further. The only antidote is delegation. Many leaders have a fear of letting others take control. However, you can delegate without fear by using a tried and true method. I can’t claim this one. Michael Hyatt shared this system with me.
Define Workflow – Analyze what needs to be done and how. I like to create a wireframe of this workflow. The first thing to look for is any inefficiency in the way you’ve always performed the task. Take out anything you can while still defining every step.
Document the Process – Write out each step and any useful information such as URLs, usernames, and passwords. There are many free tools on the web that can help you with this documenting process. The one I us is Evernote.
Delegate the Task – Clearly define what you want your delegee to do. Also define your timeframe for completion and expectation of quality. The more detail, the better.
Track – What gets tracked gets done – this is one of my favorite pieces of delegation advice. Nozbe is the best tool I have found for this. Since it tracks projects and tasks by context, I set up each of my employees as a context. Anything I have them doing for me is tracked in the system.
Follow-up – Check back regularly to make sure the work is getting done correctly. Ask questions that only someone who understands what they’re doing would know the answer to. Don’t micro manage, but do make yourself available to answer questions and provide guidance.
Delegation is a fearful thing. More often than not, it gets worse before it gets better. The process of defining workflow, documenting the process, delegating, tracking, and following up can take more time than performing the task yourself. But if you do this correctly, you’ll soon find people doing these tasks all on their own. This is when you really begin to gain back time and see your efforts multiplying.
What is the biggest excuse standing between you and delegation?