The Importance of Delegating

Jan 3, 2012

The power of effective management within an aftermarket business comes not from your efforts alone, but from the sum of all the efforts of each person within your work group.

If you’re responsible for only a few employees, with extraordinary effort you perhaps can do the work of your entire group-if you so desire and if you want to be a complete stranger to your friends and family. Unfortunately, there are many managers who take on the responsibilities of their entire organization, fearful to delegate any real responsibility.

The win-win manager, however, will temper his overzealous efforts with proper training and communication, allowing the parts manager to be a manager, the counterperson to do his job and the installer to wield the impact wrench.

Delegating isn’t easy. But it’s an important aspect of any healthy, well-run business.

Mr. Do-it-All

You simply can’t be an effective manager by trying to do all tasks and lacking the initiative to delegate responsibilities. Over the years I’ve visited numerous aftermarket shops and manufacturers that lack consistent delegation of responsibilities, and are subsequently like hamsters on a wheel, running but getting nowhere.

Such management tactics are not only ineffective, but yield a negative work environment where trust between management and the rank-and-file is lacking. This is especially true with small shops and manufacturers, including jobbers.

The last thing you want from your employees is to be viewed as a micromanager who gets too involved in the petty details of running an organization, or spending more time on other people’s work than your own. As a result, your employees may take less responsibility for their work, because you’re always there to do it for them.

They will be less engaged in their work, and morale will plummet. Why should they bother trying to do their best job if you don’t trust them enough to do the job solo?

Managers assign responsibility for completing tasks through delegation. But simply assigning tasks and then walking away isn’t enough. To delegate effectively, managers must also give employees authority and ensure that they have the resources necessary to complete tasks effectively.

Finally, managers who delegate can monitor the progress of their employees toward meeting their assigned goals.

As you put your manager hat on, you may realize you’re required to develop skills in many areas. Keep in mind that many owners/managers need to understand the technical, analytical and organizational aspects of a company while also exhibiting strong people skills. Of all the people skills you exhibit, the one that can make the greatest difference in your effectiveness is the ability to delegate well.

Delegating is a manager’s number one management tool, and an inability to delegate well is the leading cause of management failure.

You might ask yourself why managers have such a hard time delegating. A variety of possible reasons to consider include:

  • You’re too busy and just don’t have enough time.
  • You don’t trust your employees to complete their assignments correctly or on time.
  • You’re afraid to let go.
  • You’re concerned that you’ll no longer be the center of attention.
  • You have no one to delegate to.
  • You don’t know how to delegate effectively.

Give and Take

Perhaps you’re still not convinced that managers need to delegate at all. If you’re a member of this particular group of reluctant managers, consider these reasons why you must let go of your preconceptions and inhibitions and start delegating today:

Your success as a manager depends on it. Successful managers help their employees reach their full potential. If you clearly see standout personnel in your employee group, then the delegation process has already begun.

You can’t do it all. No matter how great a manager you are, shouldering the entire burden of achieving your organization’s goals isn’t in your best interest, unless you want to work yourself into an early grave. Besides, wouldn’t it be nice to see what life is like outside the four walls of your company?

You have to concentrate on the jobs that you can do and your staff can’t. As a leader, you’re a critical part of the overall operation of your company. You have jobs no one else can do. So make them the priority.

Delegation get workers in the organization more involved. When you give employees the responsibility and authority to carry out tasks, whether individually or in teams, they respond by becoming more involved in the day-to-day operations of the company. Instead of acting like drones with no responsibility or authority, they become vital to the success of the work unit and the entire organization. And if your employees succeed, you succeed.

Delegation gives you a chance to develop your employees. If you make all the decisions and come up with all the ideas, your employees never learn how to take initiative and see tasks through to successful completion. And if they don’t learn, guess who’s going to get stuck doing everything forever? In addition, doing everything robs your employees of a golden opportunity to develop their work skills. Today’s employees increasingly report learning and development opportunities as one of the top motivators.

In order to assess your potential as a delegating manager you might first consider the term “SWOT Analysis.” This is a way to measure your strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats as it relates to you, your employees and your shop or manufacturing company.

Start with a blank page for each component and, with absolute honesty, create your profile of SWOT. You may be surprised to learn where you are now and how you may overcome challenges in order to continue to build your company.

Another valid channel is to learn to better communicate your message as you evaluate your personal style of verbal and written messaging. As with any course of improvement, it takes time and patience to master your goals of both delegation and communication. For without one, you truly cannot have the other.

Sure you’re a busy person-aren’t we all? With multi-tasking, emails, agendas, budgets, and planning how to better make it in 2012, you’ve got your hands full. But when you don’t give the person on the other side of your desk your full attention, you shortchange them and yourself.

Active delegation is also a process of becoming a better listener. When you don’t have the capacity or inclination to listen, you then effectively can’t fully delegate.

Clear your mind of all distractions. Forget for a moment the proposal that has to go out, the spreadsheets awaiting your approval, and that growling in the pit of your stomach. Give the other person your full attention. After all, that person may have the answer you have been looking for.

Ways to Delegate

Some final steps to consider in your roadmap to delegation are:

  • Express your interest in the project.
  • Maintain your focus without your mind wandering.
  • Ask questions of your team, customers, or vendors in an effort to better understand the direction of your key person(s).
  • Seek the key points and verbalize them to your key personnel.
  • Avoid interruptions while you’re developing your delegation process.
  • Take copious notes as committing to writing instills an improved process of idea formulation.

This is your opportunity to better not only yourself, but your employees, and subsequently improve your business and likely your bottom line.

So harness you inner strengths, understand your weaknesses, formulate your opportunities and apply directives on dealing with threats. You are on your way to being a manager who delegates. You are creating a roadmap of delegation-starting with yourself.

As I enter my seventh year as the author of The Professor Files, it is again a pleasure to aid in your company and personal growth. May 2012 be an positive year where we create our own aftermarket economy as a capitalist tool.

Cheers ‘n gears!