By Jason Bader
One of the toughest hurdles to overcome is the transition from "bud to boss." When a person is promoted from a member of a functional team to the leader of that same unit, there is awkwardness to the change in role. New managers often find it difficult to ask their former peers to handle tasks that they are fully capable of performing. They are afraid to upset the relationship with the employee. To overcome this, new managers must recognize two things: 1. They have limited bandwidth, and 2. The relationship has changed.
Another barrier comes from the leadership style the new manager wants to emulate. Leading by example is one; it's an admirable trait when used in the right situations. But sometimes new managers confuse this leadership style with the need to show others that they are not above the tasks they are delegating. Leaders who continue to perform these tasks repeatedly have effectively put them back on their own plates. It is definitely a balancing act.
Brian Tracy is a great leadership educator and author of the book, Eat That Frog! 21 Great Ways to Stop Procrastinating and Get More Done in Less Time. There are so many nuggets of wisdom packed into a short read—one of which is found in a very short section on delegation. Paraphrased, he suggests, "If you are paid $25 per hour, do $25 per hour work. Quit doing $10 per hour work." Doing the lower compensated work is really like taking a mental holiday. It's easy. Sure, this work needs to be done; but the appropriate level of employee should do it.
Delegation is often a byproduct of effective planning. Taking another cue from the Tracy playbook, managers need to develop a regular day-end routine consisting of planning and prioritizing the tasks for the next day. During this end-of-day analysis, they should review the tasks they have documented for the next day. What of these tasks can be performed by others? Those who are struggling with finding anything to delegate either work alone or have potential control issues. Handing off the task may be a leap of faith, but people will often rise to the occasion if you give them the opportunity. They might even do it better.
Time management really boils down to a person making sure to focus on those tasks he or she is best suited to handle. Leaders need to pull themselves back from the daily tasks and start thinking more strategically. Think critically about the team in place: What training or tools do they need to be more effective? Where are the new recruits coming from? How can the bottom line grow by just one more percent? This is what "$25/hour" work really looks like.
Bader is the managing partner of The Distribution Team, a firm that specializes in helping distributors become more profitable through strategic planning and operating efficiencies. The first 20 years of his career were spent working as a distribution executive. Today, he is a regular speaker at industry events and spends much of his time coaching individual distribution companies. For more information, call (503) 282-2333 or contact him by e-mail at Jason@Distributionteam.com. Also visit The Distribution Team's website at www.thedistributionteam.com.