You are busy. Your to-do list is never ending and you feel like you could work 80 or 90 hours a week and still not accomplish everything you want to do in any given week. Add onto that a myriad of meetings, phone calls and employee issues and it’s enough to make any business owner want to throw in the towel.
You are not alone. Over the past 25 years, I have worked with thousands of business owners with similar stories. Which is why one of the first things I do with any new coaching client is to sit down and talk about what their to-do list looks like and develop a strategy for identifying the items on that list that could be eliminated or delegated to someone else. We call these D-level tasks.
What Is a D-Level Task?
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.
How to Get Rid of D-Level Tasks
There are a few ways to get these D-level tasks off your to-do list, such as not doing them all together. But for most of us, the work still needs to be done. Which is why I think that every good leader needs to learn the “fine art of delegation.”
1. Use The Right Terminology
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 is one that almost everyone understands, and will inherently know the steps that follow such a delegation.
2. Train, Train….and Train
It’s one thing to hand a task off to an employee and hope that it gets taken care of. But it’s a whole other thing to train that staff member on how to do the task and make sure that they have all the necessary information to do as good (if not better) as you would do it yourself. Which is why creating systems and controls is so crucial to getting more things off your to do list. 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.
3. Don’t Forget To Check In
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.