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Develop Your Most Valuable Resource
YOUR MOST valuable resources in business are the human resources entrusted to you to get the job done. They are far more valuable than computers or office space. Excellent managers are those who are capable of eliciting the highest quality performance from the people they manage.
Your job as a manager is to get the maximum return on the company's investment in people. As much as 85 percent of the operating budget of any organization, especially a service business, is spent on salaries and benefits. The question is, "Are you getting the maximum return out of these expenditures?" Delegation is one of the ways to do just that.
The average person works at 50 percent to 60 percent of capacity. That means that in the average organization, half of the capability of employees is not being tapped. An excellent organization is one in which people are using more and more of their potential capacity to achieve the goals of the organization.
Grow Your People
Your job as a manager is to grow people. You are entrusted with the responsibility of taking care of your people and developing them. Only people can be made to increase in value. Computers and other equipment depreciate and eventually become obsolete. People, however, can be made to grow in value, depending on how they are managed and utilized. Delegation is a wonderful tool to challenge your people and cause them to stretch, achieving greater results and making a greater contribution.
Most important of all is how delegation allows you to fulfill your own personal potential. The wonderful discovery is that your potential as a manager or executive is virtually unlimited, provided you are able to unleash the talents and abilities of others by delegating and supervising effectively.
You have two choices in the world of work. When work has been assigned to you and you are accountable to your boss, you can either do it yourself, or you can get someone else to do it. Your ability to get someone else to do the work—or, more precisely, to entrust the work to someone else who can, in fact, do it—lets you focus on the work you have to do. More than anything else, this ability to effectively delegate is going to determine your career track, your rate of promotion, your pay, your status, your position, your prestige, and your success in management.
Challenge the Myths That Block Effective Delegation
THERE ARE several myths in management that often hold managers back from delegating. They may or may not be true, but they are the mental blocks of the individual manager. You may be aware of some of these myths or blocks and not aware of others. Whenever you see a poor delegator, you will probably see one or more of these myths at work.
MYTH 1: There Is Not Enough Time to Delegate
Sometimes people are so busy and swamped with responsibilities that they think they don't have enough time to sit down and explain the job to someone else. They just want to get on with it as quickly as possible.
On other occasions, they may delegate the job to another person, but they don't take enough time to walk the person through the assignment and explain exactly what must be done. They may say something like, "Do this and have it done by such and such a time." They equate this order-giving with delegation. But it is not. It is abdication.
You've probably heard the old saying, "There is never enough time to do it right; but there's always enough time to do it over." In poorly managed organizations or work units, there always seems to be time to do it over and correct the mistakes and misunderstandings that were caused by not delegating effectively in the first place.
In reality, there is always enough time to delegate effectively. From now on, stop saying that you don't have the time to delegate a task clearly. Remember, taking the time to delegate well is the most effective use of your time for getting more and better results.
MYTH 2: The Staff Is Not Competent Enough
Very often, managers underestimate the ability of their people. But the only way you can test the true competence of individuals is by giving them more to do than they have ever done before, and then allowing them the latitude to make mistakes and to learn from them.
People will surprise you. Amazingly enough, your staff members probably have competencies that you have never realized. When you learn to tap into their capabilities, not only will they get more fulfillment from their work, but you will also get a lot more done as a manager, which will help your career.
MYTH 3: If You Want It Done Right, You Have to Do It Yourself
This misunderstanding, carried to its logical conclusion, guarantees failure in management. If you truly believe that you have to do everything yourself—and want to get the work done on time, and to an acceptable standard of quality—you will eventually end up with more and more work, and less and less time. This myth will hold you back and condemn you to continually perform at an operational level, rather than advance in management.
The inability to move from doing the job to managing the job is the biggest reason people fail in management. The natural tendency is to fall back into your comfort zone and start doing rather than delegating. Keep reminding yourself that your job is to manage, not to do it yourself.
MYTH 4: People Will Think You're Not on Top of Things If You Delegate to Others
Often, executives or managers are selfish. Their egos are tied up in their work. They want other people to think that they are on top of the job and know what's going on all the time. They therefore refuse to delegate.
However, the opposite is true. You can never know what is going on everywhere all the time. And you don't need to know. You can always have access to the people who do know and who can bring you up to speed quickly.
MYTH 5: When You Are Good at Something, You Should Do It Yourself
Many people spend months and years developing a skill set that enables them to move up, be promoted, and be assigned a staff to work under them. The trap is that doing this particular job well creates a comfort zone, and you continually strive to get back into the comfort zone of doing an old familiar task.
The rule here is fairly simple. You should delegate whatever you have mastered and can now do easily, and move on to something else. Mastering the task has enabled you to move up, and move on. This task should now be taught and passed on to someone else. You should not be working on tasks that are simple and routine and can be done by someone else.
Practice the "70 percent rule." If someone else can do the task 70 percent as well as you, delegate the task to that person. Free yourself up to do those few tasks that only you can do.
Our natural tendency is to fall into the habit of doing the jobs that we enjoy, the jobs that got us to where we are today, and then keeping these jobs for ourselves. Instead, you should delegate the tasks that you have mastered so that you can get on to tasks that require greater intelligence, skill, and ability.
The Starting Point of Delegation
THE STARTING POINT of delegation, like the starting point in all successful management, is for you to take some time to think about the job before you do anything else. Think through exactly what has to be done, by you and by others. A good exercise is for you to write out the objective of a job, especially a complex job, and then make a checklist of every action that must be taken to complete the job on time, and to the required level of quality.
Many of the problems in management come from taking action without thinking. By contrast, success in management is usually the result of taking time to think before you act. And there are few areas where this is more important than in the area of delegation.
Planning Is a Time Saver
There is an old saying, "A stitch in time saves nine." Every minute spent in planning saves ten to twelve minutes in execution. Make a list of everything that has to be done in the completion of an important task or the achievement of an objective. The more time you take to plan the task before you begin, and to write down every step, the faster you will complete that task when you begin work.
Thinking through the job—what has to be done, when it has to be complete, and to what standard of quality—is the starting point of effective delegation. Unfortunately, many managers delegate first and then think through the job later.
Ask the Right Questions
You should approach each job or assignment as if your career and your future depended on it. The bigger and more important the task, the more seriously you should approach it in the first place. Ask the right questions:
* What am I trying to do?
* How am I trying to do it?
* Could there be a better way?
Start off by thinking about your situation today, where you want to be in the future, and the very best way that you can get there.
Be Your Own Management Consultant
The job of the management consultant is to ask questions about what you are doing and why you are doing it that way. Peter Drucker said, "I am not a consultant; I am an insultant. I don't tell people what to do. I just ask them the hard questions that they need to answer to decide what to do for themselves."
An excellent exercise to engage in as a manager is to identify your assumptions, and then test them. What are you assuming to be true? What are you assuming consciously, and what are you assuming unconsciously? And most important, what if your assumptions are not true? What if the ideas on which you are basing your decisions are not correct? Then what would you do?
Should You Do It Yourself?
For every task, you have to decide whether you should do it yourself, delegate it to someone in the company, or outsource the task to a specialist outside the company. You can only make these decisions if you take the time to think through the task first.
IF IT MAKES SENSE, DO IT YOURSELF
Sometimes, the assumption that you need to delegate a task is wrong; it makes more sense to do it yourself. Early in my career, I was a copywriter for a large advertising agency. In that position, I read every book I could find on writing professional copy and eventually worked my way up to writing advertising copy for national accounts.
To this day, I can write excellent advertising on almost any subject, for any product or service, quickly, easily, and well. A member of my staff could spend hours writing a piece of advertising copy for our website or for other promotional materials and still not do a particularly good job. But I can write that same amount of copy in a few minutes, and it is ready to go to press.
This is one of those areas where it makes a lot of sense for me to quickly write the advertising copy rather than delegating it or hiring someone else outside the company to do it.
FIND THE RIGHT PERSON
If, however, you should be delegating a task rather than doing it yourself, who is the best person to whom you can delegate it?
When delegating, be sure that you match the activities to the right people. Delegating an important task to a person who does not have the demonstrated talents or aptitudes to complete the task can be a recipe for disaster. You want your people to stretch, but not too far.
Many individuals and organizations have gotten into a lot of trouble because they have delegated an important task to someone who did not have the ability to do the job properly. Remember, only past performance is a true predictor of future performance. Always delegate the job to someone who can perform the task quickly and efficiently, and bring it in on budget.
OUTSOURCE THE TASK
Another assumption that managers make is that, whatever the task, it has to be done by someone within the company. Today, however, there are companies that specialize in certain activities and you can outsource an entire task to them and get it done faster, better, and cheaper than if you did it internally.
It All Begins with Planning
Perhaps the biggest single payoff you will ever enjoy as a manager will come from planning. And all planning begins with paper and a pen, and making a list of what has to be done, and when, and how, in advance. So, take the time to think through a task or job first, and ask the right questions, before making your decision about whether and how to delegate it.
The Factory Model of Management
YOUR MOST valuable tool for success is your ability to think with greater clarity than other people. The more mental tools that you have at your disposal to aid your thinking, the better decisions you can make, and the better results you can get.
The factory model of management is a mental tool that you can use to be more effective in your delegating efforts. You create this model by viewing each person, and each work unit made up of individuals, as a factory.
A factory has certain inputs (e.g., raw materials, resources, time, money, equipment). Inside the factory, production activities are performed. These activities produce specific outputs or what you might call results. The productivity of the factory is judged solely on the basis of the quality and quantity of its outputs, not its activities.
Identify the Results Expected
When you think of your unit, your department, your company, or your area of responsibility, think of it in terms of a factory. Ask yourself:
* What results are expected of us?
* What are we supposed to produce?
* Why do we exist?
* What have we been hired to accomplish?
The battle for higher levels of productivity has always revolved around the contest between activities and accomplishments, busy work and results. Many people work hard all day long, but they produce very little because they are not focused on productivity, performance, and results.
View the Individual as a Factory
When you look at the people in your organization, think of them also as individual factories. Their primary inputs are time, money, skills, and abilities. They engage in specific activities throughout the day. They are responsible for achieving or accomplishing certain outputs. They are on the payroll to get results.
An important part of delegation is for you to think through the results that you are trying to accomplish, and then to keep people's attention focused on these results. One of the hallmarks of all successful managers, and all effective people, is an intense results-orientation. One of the hallmarks of ineffective people is that they focus on activities rather than on accomplishments.
Develop Managerial Leverage
There are certain things you can do that can multiply your output or the output of your department or area of responsibility. This is a form of "managerial leverage," which enables you to get much more done than the average person. Your job is to use your time and resources in the most effective way possible to get the maximum leverage.
For example, bringing the entire production process of your business in-house where you can control it can significantly increase your productivity and lower your costs. On the other hand, outsourcing an entire part of the production process to experts who can do it faster, easier, and cheaper can give you tremendous leverage as well. By leverage, we mean that you increase the quality and quantity of outputs relative to inputs.
Delegation is an important tool for managerial leverage. Delegation lets you multiply your outputs. When you instruct or show other people what to do, so that they can then do the job by themselves, you can actually double your total output as opposed to doing it all by yourself.
Resolve to Multiply Rather Than Divide
Managerial leverage also works in reverse. Imagine that an average employee, working at an average speed, can produce ten units of work per day. As a manager, you can either multiply and increase that output amount or, with the wrong decisions, you can divide and decrease that level of productivity.
Suppose that this employee is wasting half of the workday, as most people are. With effective delegation, you may be able to increase the productivity of that person by 50 percent, up to fifteen units of work per day.
However, with ineffective, fuzzy, or vague delegation, you may reduce that number to five or eight units because the employee is unclear about what you want him to do. The employee is confused.
Delegate the Task Clearly
When people are unclear or unsure about what you want, they will tend to hold back rather than make a mistake. They will waste their time and spin their wheels. They will spend less time producing and more time socializing and engaging in other low-value or no-value activities.
As a manager, you must continually ask yourself, Am I a multiplication sign in my work environment and with my people, or am I a division sign? In other words, are people more productive as a result of your influence, or are they less productive? Is everyone who reports to you absolutely clear about 1) what it is that you need them to do, 2) when you need it, and 3) the level of quality you expect?
Excerpted from DELEGATION & SUPERVISION by BRIAN TRACY. Copyright © 2013 Brian Tracy. Excerpted by permission of AMACOM.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
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1 Develop Your Most Valuable Resource.................... 4
2 Challenge the Myths That Block Effective Delegation.................... 6
3 The Starting Point of Delegation.................... 10
4 The Factory Model of Management.................... 15
5 Determine Your Key Result Areas.................... 20
6 Set Standards of Excellent Performance.................... 26
7 Management by Objectives.................... 32
8 The Three Qualities of the Best Bosses.................... 37
9 The Seven Keys to Effective Delegation.................... 43
10 Manage by Exception.................... 49
11 See Yourself as a Teacher.................... 52
12 Build Confidence in Your Staff.................... 56
13 Delegate Decision Making.................... 59
14 Inspect What You Expect.................... 65
15 Build Your People with Regular Feedback.................... 68
16 Motivate Your Staff Continually.................... 73
17 Practice Situational Leadership.................... 78
18 Identify the Four Personality Types.................... 81
19 Three Leadership Styles.................... 89
20 Avoid Reverse Delegation.................... 93
21 Five Keys to Managerial Effectiveness.................... 98
About the Author.................... 105