Time is the only thing you cannot create, borrow, steal or buy. If you waste your time Fixing Other People's Problems (FOPP time), it's gone. Gone for good. If you own or run a business, FOPP time, time spent doing things your subordinates should be doing, keeps you from focusing on the growth you so earnestly desire. If you'd like to spend less FOPP time and more Growth time, try these suggestions.
First, try to get clear why you feel the
need to do what a subordinate could be doing. Here are some possibilities. Please add your own thoughts in the comments section.
Cause: Perhaps your subordinate doesn't know how to do the task, so you do it just to get it done quickly.
Solution: Teach that subordinate how to do the task, watch him do it a few times and then let him loose to do it on his own. If you think you don't have time to teach the task, think again. Yes, it might take you longer to teach the task than to do it yourself. But once it is taught, you don't ever need to do it again. My guess is that the ROTI (Return On Time Invested) on teaching that task will be quite high for you.
Cause: Perhaps your subordinate does not clearly understand what you expect.
Solution: Spell out your expectations quite specifically. Tell her what outcome is required, by when and at what quality level. Ask her to repeat the assignment back to you, and correct any misunderstandings. Whose job is it to ensure that each of your subordinates understands what you expect? Is it theirs? Nope. That's your responsibility.
Cause: Perhaps the subordinate doesn't have enough energy, drive or motivation to get it done.
Solution: It's not you job to energize and motivate your subordinates. Yes, you should do all you can to help each one see how his role and how this task link to the bigger mission of your organization. Yes, you should do all you can to find and recognize good work. But in the end, if a subordinate continues to lack the energy and urgency needed to get the work done, you are probably going to need to find someone else.
Cause: Perhaps the subordinate doesn't know everything you know, and that lack of knowledge will hurt the outcome of this task.
Solution: Give her access to all the information and knowledge she needs to get it done right. Don't hold back on information. Share it freely. Knowledge may be the only commodity that multiplies when it is shared. The more you share it, the more you have.
Cause: Perhaps you expect perfection.
Solution: Get over it! This is an imperfect world. It's easy to let the quest for a perfect outcome prevent us from getting any outcome at all. An organization can grind to a halt while seeking perfection. Decide what's acceptable - the 80 percent solution - and communicate that standard. Then let people go out and make things happen.
Cause: Perhaps you haven't given your subordinate authority to match the task.
Solution: Always carefully match authority to accountability. Perhaps nothing is more demoralizing than accountability without the appropriate level of authority.
Those are my thoughts. What about you?