Tell me if this nightmare delegation scenario sounds familiar.
You decide to take some work off your plate. You assign new responsibilities to members of your staff, explaining what you want them to do.
Things go haywire: errors get made, important details get dropped. You’re constantly needing to get involved in the very work you tried to offload.
You feel frustrated and let down. Your employees are stressed and unsure. You and your staff are not working from the same side of the table. There’s chaos—and more work for you, the owner, than before you tried to delegate in the first place.
Resistance to delegating is real. But even PTs who are willing to delegate encounter problems. We tend to think delegation problems are about individuals—our employees just don’t get it, they’re lacking in focus and attention to detail, they’re not managing their own time well.
Almost always, the truth is something very different.
Underlying most delegation problems is a structural issue:
- how well jobs in your practice are defined
- how job roles are adjusted when new work is delegated
- the agency your employees have over how they manage their own work time to their best advantage
The good news is, structural problems can be fixed—and those fixes will help every member of your team do their jobs better AND make it easier for you to take work off your plate and keep it off. When you invest time in developing a structure that everyone understands, you can offload tasks smoothly, without the work suffering over the short or long term. That’s when delegating can fulfill its promise of less work AND less worry for you.
Avoid reactive delegating
Sometimes you just want very badly for someone else to do something. When you’re overloaded with work, it’s tempting to try to hand stuff off to nearest person. That’s the kind of reactive delegating that ends up making more work for you, not less. Take the time NOW to develop the structural tools that let you delegate effectively.
Having clear, well defined job descriptions and operations manuals for each position in organization is the starting point for smart delegating. With these structural tools in place, you can quickly assess and match tasks with the right person in your organization, based on their skills and their existing workload. Be sure to keep job descriptions and operations manuals up to date as jobs evolve.
Recognize when you need to go outside
The truth is, you might not have someone on your team who can do the task you want to delegate. Don’t force it. It’s not worth saving a little money to have the work done poorly, your staff stressed-out, and you upset. Go where the expertise is, even when that means bringing in outside help.
Sometimes it is the simplest steps that deliver the most powerful results. Like looking beyond your staff for help with specific needs, whether that’s strategic planning or marketing or financial management. I’ve spent years working with practice owners, learning what PT practice management tools deliver the biggest results.
Work with your team to set time management systems
Every clinic has its own flow and daily patterns. No two clinics are alike. Our employees are different, too. They have distinct sets of responsibilities that require different approaches to managing time well. Time management is both a collective and an individual endeavor. Use batching and other time management strategies (such as meeting-free days) to help your team avoid extraneous tasks and get the deep work zones they need to perform at their best. Ask your employees to tell you about what their workflow is like, and the time-management challenges they’re facing. Listen—and work with your staff to establish time-management routines that meet your team’s unique needs.