We have a quarterly cycle involving the peer groups that we work with. We have just finished the latest round and it never ceases to amaze me how themes develop with common issues and problems that the recycler is battling. This round of meets saw us spending a lot of time discussing delegation.

Delegation has to occur in order for a business to grow and the failure to delegate well is a leading factor in why small businesses fail to grow to medium sized and medium sized to large. Bad delegation in large organizations often manifests itself in overstaffing. Delegation issues often lead to bottlenecks in the company.

Most owners start off being heavily involved in their businesses and stay that way until they get so busy they are forced to start delegating things that are not as important as other things. Those things get delegated to managers. The managers then execute and grow until they ultimately start the same process of delegating the least important things they do to other people below them.

What are the keys to figuring out what should/could/might be shunted from your plate? The first thing to do would be to make an actual list of the things you do and are responsible for. Once you have the list you prioritize it. If could be helpful if you put how much of your time is spent on each of the items on your list. The next thing I like to do is see where the stuff I like to do falls on the list. Keep in mind that one of the goals of delegating things to others is to create opportunity for you to work on other things that will better the company or your personal life depending on your goals/circumstances. If I am looking at how I am going to get the things done that I need to do and that ultimately leads me to delegating some responsibilities, I would certainly start with the ones on my list that have the least importance and the most dislike to do or deal with.

That can end up doing a number of things to help you such as having a person with different skill sets than yourself. They may like doing the things you dislike which means you have the beginning of a management team. You may need to start by truly tracking on paper how you spend your day and then create your list from that. You may ask some of your key people to do the same. This will give an idea of what the day to day looks like. This might sound silly, but often company policy and procedure are much different than what we thought we set it at.

Once you have made a list and prioritized it, you need to examine the strengths & weaknesses of your existing staff. Who is qualified and capable of doing the tasks you are about to delegate? It is important to remember that not everything that needs to get done needs to be done to the same level that I am capable of or currently performing the task. As owners and managers, we tend to care more than the average employee. That leads to a level of commitment that we desire but must understand that it is not necessarily the commitment level that is required or will be received from the staff it is delegated to.

We need to always remember what the goal of the business truly is. Many people will say quality and service with happy customers is the goal of the business. That is wrong. The correct answer is the goal of the business is to make money. Delegating to others needs to fall in line with that goal. In other words, we delegate because it lets us grow and accomplish more which in turns equals additional profit. The goal of delegating is not to get rid of the jobs/tasks that we don’t like to do.  I am not saying that is never the case, but when you start delegating without replacing responsibilities you will almost always find that this works against the goal of making more money for the company. In that instance, the personal goal is that you end up with a better quality of life by adding more time to your personal life. Personal balance is important and at some point in time becomes more important than the money.

In closing, remember that delegating is hard but required to grow our sales and profits. Get your homework done and let me know if you need any help.

Mike Kunkel               Bill Stevens

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