It's Quicker To Do It Myself!


We've all said it. We have an assistant or employee or team member who is new or a bit slow, and so we decide, as a boss/manager/owner, that it is quicker to do this job myself.

And it probably is quicker to do it ourselves, the challenge is that as long as we think and act that way, we'll always have to do it ourselves!

Doing it ourselves will have some predictable outcomes:

  • In the long term, it will affect our health
  • It could affect our marriage and family (or other significant relationships)
  • It prevents other people learning and growing
  • It sends the message that we don't trust anyone
  • It says to our staff that they will never be as smart as we are
  • It takes us away from doing the more important jobs we need to be doing

The bright people will eventually leave and go elsewhere, possibly even moving to our competitors and, horror of horrors, maybe even taking some of our best clients with them!  

At Teams From Woe To Go, it is our aim to free up the time of owners/managers by a minimum of 30%. To show them how to hand over a whole host of routine day-to-day ‘stuff', so they can work ON their business and not IN it. However, in order to gain that 30%, they have to be prepared to grit their teeth, and DELEGATE!

Simple, not necessarily easy.

Most owners and managers are reluctant to delegate because they're terrified people will make mistakes. And people probably will make mistakes initially, until they get the hang of whatever it is you have given them to do. After all, how did you the manager/owner learn?

By making lots of mistakes!  

Not delegating is what I call a ‘but'. Buts are fears; and the only way to overcome a fear, is to discover a WIIFM - a What's In This For Me? Think about that as the manager/owner of a busy operation. Think about what you could be doing differently if you had one day a week (30%) of your time, free from day-to-day, irritating operational problems? Do you think your bottom line might significantly improve if you were:

  • Out in the market-place talking to key clients?
  • Working on finding new clients and/or markets?
  • Brainstorming ideas for new products and services?
  • Talking to other business owners about possible alliances or synergies?

A better use of your time? Absolutely.

So where to start?  

You start by:

  • Making a list of all the jobs that bore you out of your brain.
  • If you now think about the cost of outsourcing or taking on someone to do each of those jobs by asking the question - ‘Is this a $15 an hour job, a $25 an hour job or a $50 an hour job?' I know you will be amazed that most of the jobs on your list are $15-25 an hour jobs. A manager/owner should not be doing $15-25 an hour jobs!

Then you:

  • Ask which of your team members would be interested in learning how to do that particular task (there isn't much career development in organisations any longer, so often moves are sideways). Make sure when you explain your need to hand various things over to other people, that they understand that this process is also about career development for them. It means that you will be spending time with each employee teaching them how to do various jobs or tasks and developing their skills. This time with your employees is invaluable - it means they get to hang out with you, they get to grow, they get attention and recognition - all things which build employee morale and team spirit. And at the same time, you get to hand over things you shouldn't be doing. A total win/win situation.
  • You will need to create a plan of action for hand-over otherwise chaos will reign.  I always recommend that managers pick the easiest jobs/tasks first to delegate - in fact when a manager creates his delegation list, alongside the hourly rate of that job (I also suggest they estimate how long it will take to teach someone how to do that job or task. Managers are often amazed to discover, that at most it will take an hour or possibly two to teach someone!

The process of handing over is:

  • They watch you do the job,
  • You watch them do the job,
  • They then take over the job with you standing in the wings to coach and guide, if necessary.
  • Once everyone is happy, the job is now theirs!

It is that simple.

As a manager/owner you should not be doing the $15 an hour jobs! Never, never, never.

One small point - please don't confuse delegation with abdication. You must be willing to support them through the learning process; to coach, guide and mentor. When the first task is safely handed over (and don't be surprised if the person ends up doing the job differently or possibly even better than you) you are now ready to hand over one more task to one more valued employee; and so on until you have your 30%.

Then as an owner/manager/team leader, you will be working where you need to be working, on the strategic issues of your business.  

It's as simple as that.

Yes it will take time - sometimes we have to take small steps backwards to gain a giant leap forward. Just keep remembering your wiifm (what is in this for me?) - and the wiifm for you is that 30% of your time will be spent more effectively.

Be prepared to be very surprised at the results of not needing to do everything yourself. You will live longer, be happier, stay married longer and as if that wasn't enough, your bottom line results should have similarly grown by at least 30% because you are now focusing on the strategic aspects of your role, not the $15 irritations.  

Trust in your people - in my experience, they will never let you down.



Ann Andrews CSP specialises in working with high performing teams and showing managers how to deal with poor performance.

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