Over the last two decades, our dependence on technology has increased. When we use technology, the mathematical chance of error is decreased, efficiency is maximised and we still have the power of being in control. The downside, is that for many people this has lead to the demise of our trust in the ability of others.
We’re much more likely to turn on spell check than turn to a colleague and ask for proof reading prior to sending an email. We’re much more comfortable typing a question into Google than we are turning around and asking someone that question in person. We’re afraid of human error and losing control. But in today’s business world, we should be looking for harmony between technology and people through delegation and collaboration, not deterring from it. Why? Because the impact this has on our bottom line is a lot larger than we realise.
Thomas N. Hubbard recently wrote a Harvard Business Review blog about a study he co-authored with Luis Garicano that looked at the real, economic affects of effective delegation in the workplace. Using thousands of law firms across the United States, they found that when senior lawyers handed work down to their associates, median earnings increased by 20-50% more.
When the senior partners stopped focussing on the mundane, routine issues and handed this work on to associates, they could focus on larger, more complex cases and were able to serve more clients. This productivity boost through investing the senior experience into more valuable areas of the business drove these improvements to the bottom line.
Forbes ran an interesting piece in 2012 quoting a London Business School Professor who said only 30% of managers believed they were good delegators and of this 30%, only 1 in 3 of their subordinates actually confirmed that they were good at delegating.
That suggests an enormous number of business leaders are investing their time and effort into the wrong areas of their business. So how can we change the way we think about delegation, how can we trust our employees and utilise the good money we pay for them to improve our overall position?
1. Make technology a team effort
Those pieces of technology I spoke about earlier on are incredibly valuable, but they don’t need to completely replace other people - other people can simply use them too. If you give a team the tools you use and create a seamless, error-reducing process there is no reason they can’t perform to the same standard that you do.
2. Be clear, concise but give them freedom to operate
I was once told that if you allow employees to succeed, they will thrive in their roles. Instruct the important things but allow them to create their own systems and styles. Give them operational freedom (within your business values) and they’ll take ownership for the work they do. It won’t be ‘something the boss gave them to do’ it will instead be ‘something they want to succeed at.’
3. Teach, don’t tell
The most valuable thing you can do is pass on your knowledge to free up your own time. Don’t tell an employee what to do, teach them how. This way, you have confidence when you delegate that they have the skills to perform well.
4. It comes down to culture
If you create a positive delegation experience for employees, it creates a collaborative culture where delegation doesn’t become an excess workload thing, but instead an empowerment thing. Foster a culture this happens and there’s nothing stopping your business from improving.
Do you have questions about delegation and creating a positive delegation experience in your business? Click here to send us a message and we’ll do our best to get back to you with an answer.