Use Strategic Delegation to Improve Productivity
Written by John W. Myrna
The more your company can optimize—not just maximize—staff members’ output, the more you can increase return on investment and grow your business without investing in more staff or other resources. This strategy works whether your company is running lean and mean or gearing up for new growth.
One of the fastest, most effective ways to optimize output without increasing costs is to institute strategic delegation practices. Strategic delegation is an often-overlooked management tool that has the potential to dramatically improve productivity and employee satisfaction.
To get started, every strategic player, from the CEO on down, must first assess his or her tasks and prioritize them based on their importance to the company’s success. Each player must eliminate the non-essential tasks and delegate to other parts of the essential tasks they are responsible for. This frees each leader to work on improving the business, not just completing tasks.
Be sure that your management team understands that delegating part of their highest-value tasks—the A and B tasks—creates the best return. Delegating only the C and D tasks is a waste of time. Finishing those tasks delivers very low ROI – which is what makes them C and D tasks to start with.
For example, a client company wanted to increase sales of its point-of-sale displays. Instead of recruiting new sales reps, who would take months to get up to speed on the complex product line, we suggested the company first improve the current staff’s output. That’s because we had discovered that the current sales reps spent only 10 hours a week actually selling. They spent the majority of their time following up on sales, completing paperwork, ensuring the plant did the job correctly, and generating reports.
Once the company implemented strategic delegation, the non-sales employees assumed responsibility for such tasks as streamlining order and reporting activities. This had the immediate effect of doubling the effectiveness of the company’s existing sales force, all without having to recruit and train new sales reps.
Strategic delegation works in all areas of a business. We’ve used this as a standard approach to resolve bottlenecks in sales, product development, and engineering – all functions requiring very specialized skills that are hard to recruit.
Another client, the president of a manufacturer of plastic liners and sealants, wanted his team to spend more time working on the business, rather than in it. To free up 20 hours per month for each executive, we first asked all team members to identify five tasks they believed could free up 20 hours for each other team member if delegated. Each executive then identified which of their own tasks they believed could truly be delegated, and how. Within six months, each executive was spending much more time working on the business.
To make strategic delegation work, continually remind your team that you expect them to manage their priorities and delegate effectively. Help team members recognize the value of delegation, and don’t let managers believe that they are the only individuals who can do a given job. Train your team members on how to delegate and how to mentor others. Develop a model for deciding which tasks to delegate and how to monitor them with a four-step cycle of agreement, accountability, action, and assessment.
With strategic delegation, your company can boost productivity and get the most growth from its current resources.
About the Author: John W. Myrna is a pragmatic management coach and co-founder of Myrna Associates, specializing in helping companies with $2 million to $100 million in revenue create targeted and actionable strategic plans. With extensive experience in C-level and senior management positions before starting his own firm in 1991, John is an expert on the development and application of strategic planning. John is a frequent speaker and an author. Reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org or www.myrna.com.
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