In a previous issue of The Garrison Report, I discussed effective leadership. Using the following techniques will improve your leadership effectiveness and allow you to deliver a lot more value to your organization.
1. Have a list of people to whom you can delegate certain issues. We all have challenges, opportunities, problems or important tasks that need to be addressed. Unfortunately it is usually very difficult to do everything yourself. Just like the manager who brings in the lefty from the bullpen to face the left- handed slugger in the ninth inning, you need to know which of your people is ideal for certain situations. In other words, you need to be able to place the right person in the right position when an issue comes up. Only by tracking the performance of your people in various situations will you know the best person to assign to the case. Write it down because it’s hard to remember everyone’s performance in all situations. Keep in mind that your best overall person may not be the person in a particular situation; you might need a specialist. Also, just like a manager with a 10-run lead in the ninth doesn’t bring in his best pitcher to close out the game, if a situation isn’t that critical, you can move down the bench a little. This will give someone a chance to develop and grow. If you don’t give them opportunities when the pressure isn’t very high, they will never learn, which will have long-term negative impact on your organization.
2. Shorten meeting times by half. The person you are assigning a task is qualified, in essence, an expert on the situation. After all, if the worker isn’t qualified, why are you assigning the task to that individual? That person understands the situation, can process the information and will apply it and if necessary change to achieve the desired results. Most meetings spend too much time going over the details that qualified people know and understand. Let the expert do his job. Instead focus on what’s most important. Make sure the delegate understands the deliverables and how they will be measured. Identify any critical issues or limits the situation has. But don’t get bogged down in the how-to details. This frustrates the expert because you come across as talking down to them. Besides, if she is the expert, she probably understands what needs to be done better than you. This simple suggestion will increase the productivity of both the delegator and delegate.
3. Improve your systems. Much of the work performed by organizations is routine. Assigning such routine tasks to someone highly qualified who could be doing something more valuable and complex is very unproductive. The solution is systems. Developing systems that less-qualified people can follow improves the organization’s performance and allows you to delegate many more tasks without having to spend all your time supervising the individuals performing them. The workers simply need to be taught the system then allowed to follow the system’s procedures. The worker no longer has to make decisions; instead the worker simply follows the process. However, educate your people that when variations in the process occur, they should ask for help, not simply respond, “We can’t do that.” As variations occur, you can always add modifications to the system for those situations. The system should be an active process, changing with conditions and not set in concrete. The workers should also be encouraged to make recommendations on how to improve the system. This is important because the people performing the work after a while become the experts on the system and often see ways to improve it that those not immersed in it don’t see.
4. Respond to problems more forcefully. Too often people respond to a problem or crisis with the minimum they believe will solve the problem. This is a situation where business could learn from the military. When any general must go in to battle, he attempts to use overwhelming force. In any crisis, the situation is no different. Use overwhelming force to crush the problem. A perfect example is Japan’s nuclear plant problems resulting from the earthquake and tsunami. Of course, the Japanese had their hands full due to the overall impact of everything that happened. But they could have asked for help immediately. It’s dangerous to “think” we have things under control. As soon as they lost power, which they knew could cause problems, they should have considered the worst possible scenario and responded accordingly then done everything possible to deal with that situation immediately. It took a week to get the emergency generators there to start operating some pumps. If they had asked the world community for generators immediately, the world would have provided them in 24 to 48 hours and many of the eventual problems could have been averted. In essence, this is about getting ahead of the crisis instead of trying to keep up with crisis. In the end the overwhelming-effort approach is less costly and more productive because it minimizes the problem, instead of attempting to control the problem.
5. Keep your word. How does keeping your word improve your efficiency? If you promise only what you can deliver, you don’t have to waste time on stuff you can’t do or spend time trying to justify why you didn’t do it. That doesn’t mean you don’t stretch. You can say, “I guarantee that I will have this done by the end of the month. I will try to have it to you sooner, but I can’t guarantee that because there are variables I don’t control.”
We all are under tremendous pressure today to be more efficient. These five suggestions will help you do just that while making you a more effective leader.
Further information can be found at www.TedGarrison.com.
Source: Ted Garrison