Which Tasks at Your Business Should You Delegate to Others?
Certain tasks naturally lend themselves to being delegated. As a business owner, it’s impossible to be everywhere at once, regardless of how much you may like to be. Take every opportunity to delegate the following kinds of work to your employees.
As a business owner, you have no greater time‐waster than getting caught up in details — you know, tasks such as double‐checking pages, spending days troubleshooting a block of computer code, or personally auditing your employees’ timesheets. The Pareto Principle holds that 20 percent of the results come from 80 percent of the work. You can no doubt run circles around almost anyone on those detailed technical tasks that you used to do all the time.
But now that you’re the owner, your duty is to orchestrate the workings of a team of workers toward a common goal — not just to perform an individual task. So leave the details to your employees, but hold them accountable for the results. Concentrate your efforts on tasks that have the greatest payoff and that allow you to most effectively leverage the work of all your employees.
Browsing the web for information about your competitors, spending hours poring over issues of Fortune magazine, and moving into your local library’s reference stacks for weeks on end isn’t an effective use of your time. Still, many business owners can get sucked into the trap. Not only is reading newspapers, reports, books, magazines, and the like fun, but it also gives you an easy way to postpone the more difficult tasks of managing your company.
Your responsibility is to look at the big picture — to gather a variety of inputs and make sense of them. You can work so much more efficiently when someone else gathers needed information, freeing you to take the time you need to analyze the inputs and devise solutions to your problems.
What a great way to get routine tasks done: Assign them to your employees. Many of the jobs in your company arise again and again; checking inventory levels and placing orders for more product, reviewing your biweekly report of expenditures versus budget, and approving your monthly phone bill are just a few examples. Your time is much too important to waste on routine tasks that you mastered years ago.
If you find yourself involved in repetitive assignments, first take a close look at their particulars. How often do the assignments recur? Can you anticipate the assignments in sufficient time to allow an employee to successfully complete them? What do you have to do to train your employees in completing the tasks? When you figure all this out, develop a schedule and make assignments to your employees.
Do you feel that you have to be everywhere all the time? Well, you certainly can’t be everywhere all the time — and you shouldn’t even try. Every day, your employees have numerous opportunities to fill in for you. Presentations, conference calls, client visits, and meetings are just a few examples. In some cases, you may be required to attend. However, in many other cases, whether you attend personally or send someone to take your place really doesn’t matter.
The next time someone calls a meeting and requests your attendance, send one of your employees to attend in your place. This simple act benefits you in several different ways. Not only do you have an extra hour or two in your schedule, but also your employee can present you with only the important outcomes of the meeting.
In any case, your employee has the opportunity to take on some new responsibilities, and you have the opportunity to spend the time you need on your most important tasks. Your employee may even discover something new in the process.
As a business owner, you must always be on the lookout for opportunities to train your staff in their future job responsibilities. For example, one of your key duties may be to develop your annual budget. By allowing one or more of your employees to assist you — perhaps in gathering basic market or research data, or analyzing trends in previous‐year budgets — you can give your employees a taste of what goes into putting together a budget.
Don’t fall into the trap of believing that the only way to train your employees is to sign them up for an expensive class taught by someone with a slick color brochure who knows nothing about your business. Opportunities to train your employees abound within your own business. An estimated 90 percent of all development occurs on the job. Not only is this training free, but also by assigning your employees to progressively more important tasks, you build their self‐confidence and help pave their way to progress in the organization.