by Charlie Badenhop
Are you too busy “working” to find the time to plan, innovate and lead?
Planning for the future, innovating, and leading others takes time, and that’s one thing most managers say they don’t have enough of.
In the highly competitive environment all businesses face, maintaining the status quo and being satisfied with completing your daily workload, is simply not enough to insure ongoing success. In order to be a successful manager you need to determine and develop the future your team is moving towards. It’s thus crucial that you find the time to plan and innovate.
The concept of internal outsourcing
If you’re looking to carve out the time to be a better leader, consider which of your current tasks and activities can be accomplished by your subordinates. This involves the concept of what I call "internal outsourcing"– Determining which of your day to day activities can safely be handed over to others on your team.
Take a moment to consider how your value to your company is determined. If you’re not engaged in an entry level position, you’ll likely say that your performance is judged by your ability to plan, innovate, and lead. It’s therefore crucial for you to find the time to focus on the activities you’re being paid to successfully accomplish.
Successful internal outsourcing is not about simply having your subordinates take over your workload so you’ll have less to do. Successful internal outsourcing involves understanding what it is you’re being expected to accomplish, and turning over non-critical tasks to others. In order to do this you’ll need to trust in your staff and give them the opportunity to engage in trial and error learning. Chances are you’ll be surprised and pleased by the results.
The cost savings of internal outsourcing
When scanning your business horizon for cost saving solutions, take a close look at the tasks you spend your time on, on a daily basis. For each task you consider ‘outsourcing’, ask yourself “Can this task be successfully accomplished by a subordinate?” At the very least, you should consider internally outsourcing any task that does not require complex decision making skills.
You’ll do well to continually look to internally outsource as much of your day to day workload as possible, to the least expensive cost center on your team. Managers who keep themselves busy with work that can be done by subordinates are costing their firms extra money for each task they accomplish. When you delegate recurring tasks to lower cost centers, you free yourself up to work on the tasks that most impact your bottom line. This leads to the likelihood that you and your team will create further savings and profit in the future.
The time savings of internal outsourcing
Beyond the cost savings of internally outsourcing, an equally important benefit is the time it frees up for you to truly be a leader.
When your eyes are glued to your desk because of ‘never ending’ daily tasks, you lose the wide angle perspective necessary to do big picture thinking. A competent photographer realizes the need to use a wide angle lens when wanting to take in a broad panorama. The same is true for successful managers. You need to look up from your desk in order to see the future!
Freeing up enough time to accomplish the higher level tasks your performance is evaluated on, leads to cost reductions and increased efficiencies, and in this way, one strength feeds another.
It’s of great importance to note that when a manager feels they have enough time to plan for the future, they invariably report being a lot less stressed out by the various challenges they encounter.
Encourage everyone on your team to be a ‘knowledge worker’
The more you encourage your team to also consider how they can push lower order tasks down to lower cost centers, the more efficient and successful your team will be.
By encouraging and empowering every worker to be creative, and make suggestions for further efficiencies, every worker is encouraged and empowered to fulfill their role as a ‘knowledge worker’. The benefits accrued by this philosophy are substantial. Rather than feeling pushed to work harder and faster, your subordinates come to realize that just like you, it’s their ability to plan and innovate that’s really crucial. The key to developing a successful team, is not about pushing people to do more. Developing a successful team involves empowering people to find ways to work more intelligently. The more each worker is tasked with planning and innovating, the more responsibility they will gladly take in making sure their job is done well. The more opportunity you give your team to utilize their skills as knowledge workers, the more successful your team will become.
Cost savings in the future
When everyone on your team finds ways to successfully outsource repetitive tasks, at some point you’ll likely discover the need to hire new entry level staff. Finding such talent is much easier and much less expensive than needing to hire more experienced personnel.
Preparing for the future
The greater the journey to be undertaken, the more necessary it becomes to plan ahead. The less time spent on planning, the more likely it becomes that the path ahead will be fraught with unforeseen difficulties.
When everyone on your team shoulders the load of finding more cost effective ways to accomplish daily tasks, everyone on your team will be better prepared for the future. Knowing your team will eventually determine how a plan is implemented and improved upon, you can focus on ensuring the necessary resources are available to successfully attain key strategic objectives.
The more you can depend on your team to take care of daily tasks while fulfilling their roles as knowledge workers, the more likely everyone is to succeed!
Charlie Badenhop is a native New Yorker and has been living in Japan for the past 25 years. He is also an Aikido instructor and the founder of Seishindo (www.seishindo.org) a system that helps people manage stress, relationships, and communication.
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