As a business owner, you are busy. And for many of you, the term “busy” is an understatement. You are constantly being bombarded by phone calls, emails and employee questions. You might work 70 or 80 hours a week and still feel like you don’t have time to work on the important and valuable tasks that help grow your business.
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You are not alone. Over the past 25 years, I have worked with thousands of business owners in our business coaching program with similar stories. And one of the first things we set out to do when we start working together is to look at the owner’s to-do list and identify the D-level tasks on their list.
The D-level tasks are the things on your to-do list that don’t provide any value or growth for your business. They might still need to be done, but they are generally a poor use of your time and brainpower. These can vary based on your industry, but things like answering customer service questions, dealing with employee schedules and conflicts, going on lower-level sales meetings, etc., are all things that could (and should) be taken off your plate.
There are a few ways to get these D-level tasks off your to-do list, such as deleting them if they aren’t absolutely necessary, deferring them if the deadlines can be delayed and designing them out of your schedule. But one of the most effective ways to remove D-level tasks from your list is delegating them. Below are my tips on how you can delegate successfully:
When it comes to handing tasks off to other team members, it is crucial that they understand the process and exactly what is expected of them along the way. At my company, when someone delegates a task, we say that the recipient of the task now “owns” it. They are responsible for not only completing the item in question, but also closing the loop with the team in regards to reporting. This terminology will help your employees gain ownership over the process and buy into the delegation process.
Another crucial step to helping you delegate more and focus on the things that fuel your growth is to have good systems in place within your business. In general, a system is a written or video explanation of how to do a certain task or project within your company. This system should be updated regularly and would help guide a team member on how to do that certain task with little or no guidance from an outside person. Once the system is created, it becomes much easier to delegate something to someone else on your team and move it from one person to another if deemed necessary in the future.
The final bit of advice I have in regard to delegating tasks has to do with the controls or reporting portion of your business. The more tasks you take off your plate and delegate to others on the team, the more you will want to have a way to check in on their progress and ensure that everything is being taken care of without micromanaging your staff. This can be accomplished through weekly or monthly reports or scorecards. If you notice any irregularities on a report, you can follow up with the owner of that report for more information or clarification.
The next time you open up your planner or task list, pause for a second, and look at the items listed. Take a good, hard look at where you spend your time, and then look for ways to get those items off your plate. The more you take off, the more time you have for creating real value and growth within your company.
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