As a business owner, you likely have a packed schedule and a to-do list that is longer than your arm. Additionally, many company executives spend their time putting out fires, answering questions and making important decisions.
Overloading your days with tasks and stretching out your average eight hour day to a twelve or fifteen-hour day puts you on the road to burn out. However, you can find ways to reduce your task list, improve workflow, and make your time on-the-job enjoyable.
The Executive “To-Do” List
Most executives have “to-do” lists with all kinds of tasks. A sample to-do list may include:
- Stakeholder and team meetings
- New client meetings
- Coordination meetings
- Meeting with legal
- Reviewing the latest numbers
- Talking with accounting
- Updating company policies
- Process development
- Employee performance reviews
- Establishing knowledge transfer policies
- Strategy meetings
On average, business executives and CEOs spend about 75% of their workdays on pre-scheduled activities such as meetings. That means they only have 25% of their workday to spend on spontaneous activities – unless the workday gets longer.
This means that you have two options – a) bend time to pack more hours in the day or b) delegate activities that are essential, but another person could accomplish them.
When Delegation Breaks Down
Delegating tasks is an essential part of business leadership. In fact, there is no way to have a business with employees if you are not willing to delegate.
Where delegation often breaks down is where a CEO or executive sees an employee doing a task, decides that the work is not being accomplished correctly, and then he or she explains the correct way to do it or does it him/herself. If this is a standard practice in a company, it means that the executives are no longer driving the business forward, but are embroiled in the everyday.
Another area where delegation breaks down is when a business owner has given all of the tasks they are comfortable with giving to employees and leadership, but hold on to additional jobs that could be done by another. Often, in this case, the executive does not have the time or mental energy to explain how they want the task done, and hasn’t established the essential processes and procedures that will ensure the job is done right the first time.
A Primer on Delegation
As we have delineated above, delegation fails when:
a) Knowledge transfer isn’t done.
b) The executive feels like they can’t let go of a task.
c) The processes and procedures related to the task are not established.
With these issues in mind, here is a very brief “how-to” when it comes to delegating important tasks:
1. Make a list of tasks that someone else could do.
2. Take the first job on the list. Write down what the status is on this job. For example, has it never been started, is it a daily task or have you partially completed it?
3. Write down what the completion of the task looks like.
4. Write down the steps necessary to accomplish the task.
5. Read over what you wrote. Does it make sense? Does the person to whom this task will be given need specialized knowledge to understand it?
6. Simplify the steps as needed.
7. Create a timeline for each step.
8. Decide who will take on this job.
9. Assign the task to the person to whom you are delegating.
10. Provide all of this information to them.
11. Repeat with the next task.
There are other aspects to consider during this process. For example, if you are going to spend time writing down institutional knowledge in this way, where will it be stored? How will the next person find it? Do you have a system set up to make this information accessible?
However, the above 11-step process is the barebones delegation process.
At Business Success Consulting Group, we support business owners by providing resources for overcoming common obstacles like delegation and knowledge transfer. Additionally, we work within the company to make institutional knowledge accessible, so that company executives and team leads don’t need to answer as many questions and can easily train a new hire.
Are you ready to tackle your to-dos? Contact us today!