The ROI of Delegation: How Control Freaks Cost Organizations Big Bucks

January 29, 2011 by  Filed under: Management 

Everyone is aware of the positives of delegating effectively. We have the potential to achieve more in less time. The results of not delegating include stress, burnout, and becoming overwhelmed with smaller tasks which distract us from our top goals and priorities. However, not delegating isn’t just damaging to the individual. So, what damage does a corporate culture of control freaks cause an organization?

Reasons Why Managers Don’t Delegate Include, But Aren’t Limited To:

“If it’s going to get done right, and going to get done on time-I’d better do it myself!”
“Whenever I try to delegate, I always get burned.”
“By the time I explained it to someone, I could have done it myself.”
“I don’t want to bother someone else…they already have enough on their plate.”
“It’s job security. If I’m the only one who can do it, they can’t downsize me!”

Negative ROI Resulting From Managers Who Don’t Delegate

We all have a default mechanism which causes us to simply “do everything ourselves,” often subconsciously. Unfortunately, this is the way most of us are wired. At face value, some of the above rationale might seem honorable. “Ultimately, everything in my department is my responsibility, so I’ll just do it myself.”

However, in addition to many other negatives such as stress, burnout, and mistakes, this “control freak” habit creates a corporate culture of woefully inefficient utilization of human resources. This inefficient utilization costs departments tens of thousands annually.

Here’s how:

If a $40/hour manager spends just one hour on a task in which a $20/hour person has the skills, training, and resources to do-that company incurs an expense of $40, rather than incurring an expense of $20. So, how many hours per week does this occur? One, two, 10, 15?

At a rate of 7 hours per week, the losses realized would be $140 from the inefficient use of human resources, or $7,280 per year. If this culture is consistent throughout a department of 16 people, the annual impact would be $116,480. Multiply this mismanagement throughout all levels of the division, or entire organization, and corporations waste big bucks annually resulting from poor utilization of human resources.

Perhaps most importantly, these tasks take valuable time and focus away from each manager, unable to accomplish the most important objectives each are charged with. This culture bogs organizations down at all levels, and squelches organizational growth and advancement.

Empower and Develop Employees to Gain a Positive ROI from Delegation

Conversely, if an organization successfully trains, develops, and empowers its emerging managers, then $20/hour staff can begin to handle certain $40/hour responsibilities-effectively saving companies money. These employees are able to be trusted, and perform tasks above their salary level. The “upwards domino effect” is that managers can more easily focus time and energy on larger, more important responsibilities, and can accomplish great achievements.

Further, a workforce is now being developed which believes that the organization believes in them, and is investing in them for future promotion. Certainly, when such promotions do occur, the transition period can then be faster and smoother.

Each organization should annually re-evaluate the tasks and responsibilities of each level, and be sure to maximize the utilization of human resources effectively.

The “Disservice Theory”

The next time you begin a project thinking “This is an important project–I need to do this one myself,” consider this: You are actually doing another person a disservice by not including them, and not allowing that person to develop and grow–enabling them to accept more responsibility in the future.

We’ve all had mentors who “showed us the ropes” within an organization. This is how we learn. This is how we grow. Beyond just the ROI impact, take the time next time to include someone and share.

Action Steps

“A leader isn’t someone who takes on all responsibilities themselves. A leader is someone who empowers others to achieve the goals of the organization as a team.”

Delegation is a learned skill and applied habit. This demands an understanding of how to delegate correctly, and continuous focus to create such a leadership habit.

Are your managers and supervisors truly trained on the delegation process? If delegation went wrong, was the task delegated to the right person? Was the other person clear with exactly what was to be performed, and by when? Did that person possess the time, training, and resources to perform the task? Did that manager follow-up before the deadline to double-check on progress?

“As a manager, you deserve to take a vacation–or take a day off with your kids–and actually enjoy it without your cell phone ringing every hour.”

Empower and develop your team, allowing each to take on greater responsibilities. Then devote your time to your big picture goals–while achieving MORE, with less time, higher quality, and less stress. You will more effectively utilize your human resources, and you will be amazed at what you and your organization can accomplish.

Andy Masters is an author and international speaker/trainer who has written 4 books and earned 4 degrees, including an M.A.-Human Resources Development and an M.A.-Marketing from Webster University. Andy presents entertaining and impactful programs in the areas of Sales/Service and Time Management/Work-Life Balance, and is a member of the National Speakers Association (NSA).

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