Operations

Delegation Can Set You (And Your Staff) Free

Posted on November 1, 2004 by LCT Staff - Also by this author

Recently my associate publisher Neil Weiss asked me how best to lead a panel discussion on running a limousine company at optimum efficiency. I gave this considerable thought, before suggesting to him that perhaps the best way to tackle the subject is to start from the top and look down from there.

What is the single biggest bottleneck we face in our businesses? In my opinion, it's ourselves, or more specifically, you, the owner! Entrepreneurs by nature tend to struggle with delegating. Does the cliché, “If it is to be, it's up to me,” ring a familiar note? If so, you're not alone. That's the single most common sentiment business owners have. However, it can impede the productivity of your company and the development of your people.

To operate at maximum efficiency, you need to teach yourselves how to entrust your authority to others.

Delegation underpins a style of management that allows your staff to use and develop their skills and knowledge to their full potential. This means that they can act and initiate independently, and that they assume responsibility with you for certain tasks. If something goes wrong, you remain responsible, since you are the owner. The trick is to delegate in such a way that things get done but do not go (badly) wrong. To enable someone else to do the job for you, you must ensure that:

* They know what you want. * They have the authority to achieve it. * They know how to do it.

One of the main phobias about delegation is that by giving others authority, an owner loses control. This need not be the case. If you train your staff to apply the same criteria as you would yourself (by example and full explanations), then they will be exercising control on your behalf.

With appropriate monitoring, you should be able to catch mistakes before they are catastrophic. When a mistake happens, you should look forward, not backward and deal with the solution rather than the cause. You need to make your people feel safe in approaching you with problems too. Once that is dealt with, you can analyze the cause.

Do not fudge the issue; if someone on your staff did something wrong, say so, but only in very specific terms. Avoid personal attacks such as, "Were you born this stupid?" Look to the actual event or circumstance that led to the error. Your objectives are to ensure that your employee understands the problem; that he/she feels confident enough to resume the task; and finally, that out of all of this, some procedure is implemented to prevent the mistake from happening again.

There is always the question of what to delegate and what to do yourself. You must take a long-term view on this. If you want your company to run at optimum efficiency, then you need to delegate as much as possible to develop your staff to be as good as you are now.

Sincerely,

Sara McLean

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