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Can You Delegate?

Every executive knows that time is money, and your time is likely valued at the highest rate.  It is critically important that you delegate each task to the appropriate level in your organization, so that things get done at the lowest cost, and your time is freed up to pursue higher value actions.  The question above then, is really two questions:  Can you delegate, and will you delegate?

The first question is easy.  You can delegate as long as the person you give the task to has the capability, the time and the authority to complete it.  Those requirements are fairly easy to determine.  The real question to explore is will you delegate?

What would your billing rate be if you were selling your time to customers?  For most executives, this number is higher than you think.  Take the company billings you are responsible for, and divide by 2080 (work hours in a year), or take 2.5 times your comp package, and divide by 2080.  Are you surprised?  Should someone at your billing rate be doing everything you are doing?

Successful delegation starts with a willingness to let go – let go of control, let go of the result itself.  You have to think as a leader in order to do this.  If you have hired capable people, you must trust and empower them, and assume that the result will be adequate.  Remember that perfect is the enemy of good enough.

The second key step is giving clear instructions on the desired outcome, with a time line and any required boundaries and restrictions.  For example, these are adequate instructions:  “Design a tri-fold brochure for our new target market, by the end of next month, use our corporate branding guidelines, and don’t outsource anything without asking first.”  You don’t have to add, “Use Calibri and Papyrus fonts, leave a 3/8” margin, and use photos of young people.”  You can ask “How would you approach this project?” … and see if the person would take the approach you like.

True empowerment means letting your team accomplish the task in their own way, not necessarily your way.  Ask, don’t tell, how to do it.  Manage the result if you must, but whenever possible, do not manage the process or even the content of the actions.

Be helpful when needed, but don’t take over.  If you have delegated something, and the person needs assistance, or an additional resource, point the way, but don’t micromanage.  Micromanagement by bosses is the enemy of worker satisfaction!

Good delegation enables you to save time and money, frees you up to do more important things, develops your people and improves morale.  And, sometimes produces even better results!