WATER, FLOUR, YEAST, AND SALT
“If you want something done right, do it yourself” – Holy Guacamole, what a load of bsuhlilt! If you’re an employee and are known to “do things yourself”, you are guaranteed a pile of work and no advancement. If you are a business owner who feels the need to do everything yourself, you’re guaranteed sleepless nights and marginal-at-best growth. Delegation is the key to advancement and growth. Most good management books will espouse that school of thought. However, what’s little discussed is “value-based delegation”. It’s an effective strategy employed by every successful employee that has climbed the corporate ladder and every business owner that has grown their businesses (although, I would surmise that the strategy comes second nature to some folks who don’t even realize they’re utilizing its power).
There are a ton of really good delegation techniques. Just Google or Bing “delegation technique” and you’ll be presented with a baker’s dozen plus of great techniques for successful delegation. Most of the techniques are really effective, and the choice of which one(s) to utilize is really a matter of personal preference based on your personal style and corporate culture.
Now if you paid attention, you would have observed that in the first paragraph I discussed the “value-based delegation strategy” and in the second paragraph I discussed “delegate techniques”. We often hear phrases like “strategic planning and tactical execution”. Raise your hand f you know the difference between a strategy and a technique. Yes, you in the front, please: “A strategy is a means to an overall goal, while a technique is implementation of a method to achieve the strategy.” Yes, pretty good description.
So if a sales rep’s strategy is to be a great sales rep so she can be promoted to sales rep lead to eventually become the company’s Chief Sales Officer, her implementation techniques must be conducive to her strategy. A technique that is out of step and not in synch with her strategy will not only ensure she does not reach her goals, but it will most likely cause personal frustration and the other pains of a dead-end career. For the business owner, a mismatched strategic plan and technical execution will result in a struggling company at best, and complete failure at worst.
In a prior blog, we discussed how to “move your needle” by focusing 90% of your time on the value you bring as an employee or business owner. The value you bring is your unique contribution that makes you irreplaceable (or at least, makes you very expensive and painful to replace). The butcher’s value is the perfect way he cures the beef; the baker’s value is the croissants he creates; the candlestick maker’s value is the intricate designs he carves into the candles. All three have built successful businesses. They focus their time on their value and utilize “value-based delegation” as a strategy to grow their respective businesses.
Keeping your unique value in mind, “value-based delegation” (or “value-based task management”) has you answer one question when faced with a task or project: “Is the task / project within the domain of value I bring?” If the answer is “yes”, then own the task / project. If the answer is “no”, then delegate it. There is a reason why this sounds overly simple: It is. Like Occam’s razor, this stragey does not require a 15-chapter eBook and 3-days of seminars. Just answer the question: “Does this task fall within the wheelhouse of the value I bring to this company?” If yes, own it; if no, delegate it.
The reason why the strategy is so effective is that it ensures that your focus remains on the unique value you bring to your company as an employee, executive, or owner. You add value by focusing on your value. While the strategy is binary (own it or delegate it), the execution requires tactical decision making. In essence, when you own a task, you must decide if this is a task that you will accomplish on your own, by managing others, or by mentoring others. Similarly, when you decide to delegate a task / project, you must decide if the delegation can be trusted to be completed by someone else without any follow-up by you, requires some degree of follow-up and status updates, or if you need to train someone to effectively delegate this type of task / project to in the future. More on the tactics of ‘own it’ versus ‘delegate it’ in another blog. The takeaway from this blog is to be aware of how to approach a task or project that comes across your desk.
No man is an island, and it takes a team. Delegation is crucial to successful growth as an employee or business owner. However, delegation is not simply a means to offload any task you don’t have time for or don’t feel like doing. Successful delegation is a strategy rooted in the unique value you bring to your organization. The butcher mentors his protégé; the baker manages other bakers; the candlestick maker does all engravings himself. They all hire accountants and assistants that they train or follow-up on their work statuses. It’s a very successful strategy that ensure growth and mental sanity.
What unique value do you offer? Keeping your value in mind, approach the rest of your week answering, “Does this task or project reside within the domain of my value”? When you answer “no”, delegate it; when you answer “yes, own it.