9 things you need to do to avoid being overworked

Are you:

  • Overworked, overwhelmed and overscheduled?
  • Taking work home with you?
  • Experiencing staff coming to you with problems that you feel they can solve themselves?
  • Worrying that your staff will make mistakes and make clients angry?
  • Spending precious time checking and correcting work done by staff?

If you answered “yes” to 2 or more of these questions, you really need to do these 9 things…….

Narayana Murthy, Founder and Executive Chairman of Infosys, defines a “system” (not it’s NOT a software), which could help you instantly. He says:

“It’s very important to decentralize. Articulate your vision, lay out the norms for reporting and the delegating of authority, and formulate a clear escalation mechanism. You need a protocol understood and practiced by various cultures.”

Look closer. It has 9 elements that form the foundation of an effective delegation “system”. You would want to define each of them in the context of your firm and it’s current environment. How to define these 9 elements?

Don’t have time to define all of these? No worries.

Here are some hints to get you started quickly.

  1. Decentralize: Check what are you doing personally and who are the people on your team who have relevant experience and expertise to do that job or who are those who are trainable
  2. Articulate: This is often the most ignored step in the delegation process. You will need to use plenty of objective statements to articulation the delegated work. E.g. measurable expectations – stated like “you will need to turn these into Bob latest by second Tuesday of the month. It should be 100% error-free in terms of numbers” etc.
  3. Vision: For example, if your firm’s vision is “we help our clients have the most reliable and timely financial information about their business”, “accuracy” and “second Tuesday” are important deliverables that tie into your vision.
  4. Norms: There are several “understandings” that people carry when they work at your firm. These are the so-called “unwritten work rules” that people “figure out” in their heads by consistency or otherwise of their experience. But when it comes to “client deliverables” it’s a must that you define and state the norms. e.g. it will be okay for the person to whom you now delegate to take help from you or specific persons from other departments till he/she becomes fully proficient in the new responsibility.
  5. Reporting: You will also need to define the “reporting channel”. Can the person directly deal with the client or Bob will be the one to talk to client?
  6. Authority: You must know which resources you personally used and for how much time to do the work personally. Make sure identical resources are available to the new person to whom you have delegated and make sure that “other resources” from whom help needs to be taken know about this change.
  7. Escalation mechanism: Despite all of this, there will be instances, especially initially, that things will go wrong or get delayed. Identify the potential bottlenecks and timelines to create triggers that automatically or consciously get reported to you, in time, to make sure your clients do not see or experience this internal delegation affecting them.
  8. Protocol understood: Telling does not mean done or understood. You will need to specifically ask the newly responsible person to tell you what he/she understood. Ask again after a couple of weeks and a couple of months – you will be surprised how your communications got “tweaked” and hence not understood in the way you expected. Not just the process, but also the way “information” should move through the levels needs to be fully understood.
  9. Various cultures: This is one reality that you need to guard against. People form groups based on commonality of their belief systems. And these groups behave differently. Invariably, you will need to identify such groups and independently and together address these groups to ensure that delegation process does not result in “turf-protection” wars and “blame games”.

One of the firms I know of specialized in complex accounting services for hedge funds had a greatly effective “Implementation Checklist” and specialist staff that collected all relevant information from each new client and turned that knowledge into “operations” in a smooth hand-off.

What are your current “delegation challenges”? Are you doing something more / different than the system explained above? Don’t have enough/competent resources to delegate to? Please share your thoughts and experiences.

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