According to Michael Gerber in “The E-Myth,” a manager or business owner’s job is to work on his team and not in his team.
That means spending as little time as possible doing the small tasks you’re responsible for and more time making the whole organization run smoothly. You need to train, encourage, plan, strategize, coordinate, analyze, and improve.
You can’t do that if you’re spending hours each day on essential tasks. That’s why you have to free yourself up by outsourcing. It will give you the extra time to perform your most important job ‘leading.’ Here are eight tasks managers could consider outsourcing today.
You are not a supervisor. You are a manager. That means it’s not your job to tell people how to do theirs. Your team knows how and needs the resources and space to do it.
Likewise, it shouldn’t be your job to make sure they get theirs done. Yes, you’re responsible for your team’s progress and performance, but not for the incremental completion of tasks. Delegate that downstream.
One example of this in action would be to appoint staffers responsible for gathering daily or weekly progress reports. Another would be to create small sub-teams who hold themselves accountable.
Doing this frees up your time to focus only on the significant problems and top performers. By removing detailed check-ins from your docket, you can solve the first and reward the second at the level they require.
As a manager, you should not be spending your time gathering information and finding facts. This kind of work can be time-consuming, pulling your time and attention away from the high-level analysis that’s key to your job.
Instead, assign the research to the team members most educated in each niche and have them analyze the data. They should bring you summaries of their findings, which you can use to make your decisions.
Outsourcing research carries a benefit beyond freeing up your time. It also trains your team. Whoever researched the topic in question becomes an expert in that topic, increasing their value to the company, confidence in their knowledge, and competence in your industry.
We get it. Your website’s look and feel, social media posts, public-facing paperwork, and other collateral is essential. You feel the need to make it perfect, and maybe you feel like you’re the only person qualified. Even if you’re right (and you probably aren’t), the time it takes to execute design decisions is time you should be spending elsewhere.
If you’re good at design, but the actual execution in the hands of others, and make the top-level decisions. If not, delegate the entire process to a team member or outside contractor.
Getting away from this is especially important because of how quickly the world of design changes. If you’re not doing it full time, you won’t be aware of trends, software updates, and new tools. Keep the onus on somebody who lives in that world consistently enough to stay abreast.
This is one of the tasks most commonly outsourced by managers, and for a good reason:
A lesser-known reason is that having somebody else with the job of keeping your calendar means you’ll never forget a commitment again. Or at least, you won’t forget it without your assistant pinging you with a timely reminder. That’s no small benefit to many busy managers who have hands pulling their time in countless directions.
The key to successful social media is consistency. You need to get news, reviews, hints, inside peek, images, videos, and other kinds of content out on your feeds. That’s a daily task taking an hour or more daily.
Most social media gurus will tell you not to use auto-posting tools. Those fire-and-forget methods often miss out on the engagement power of social media marketing. Instead, your team member should handle the daily scheduled posting and even the content calendar strategy). Keep your hands off that, and instead pop into the feeds offering an authoritative comment, compelling question, or piece of news.
As with research and data collection earlier, this serves a purpose beyond freeing up your time. Whoever is engaging with your communities and industries deeply enough to create a strong social media presence is simultaneously building their skills and knowledge. Everybody wins.
Forms, paperwork, financial tracking, spell checking, and the various other information management pieces that go into a business form the engine of your team’s operations. They’re essential, but they’re not your job. As a manager, you drive the car. Leave it to your people to handle the maintenance, change the oil, and keep the gas tank filled.
Like with accountability, you should deal with the admin results. One of your team members compiles the reports, and you read the executive summary and create a policy as needed. That keeps you operating at the executive level, driving the car, while your pit crew does the rest.
The second benefit of outsourcing this is it lets you take a vacation. If you manage all the administration tasks, then nobody keeps the engine running while you’re gone. If those get handled daily without problems, you can take time off without worrying.
After calendar management, this is usually the most common thing managers outsource to an assistant. Shopping for tickets, communicating with hotels, and setting up itineraries is time-consuming across multiple areas. You have to physically book the tickets, rooms, rental cars, and other details — and you can only do that after spending time researching each one.
You already need to pack for your trip and prepare for your tasks once you get there. There’s no need for you also to spend time and focus on those other details.
Pro tip: If you have one person in the office responsible for all travel arrangements, they get good at that job. They’ll get to know how to get free upgrades, hard-to-find tickets, maximize frequent flyer benefits, and all those other small details casual travelers miss.
Delegating this can be challenging. After all, the battle cry of all disgruntled customers everywhere is, “I want to speak with your manager.” But irate client calls can eat up an entire morning’s worth of effort and pull your focus off of avoiding the next call through strong leadership.
The key here is to remember why the customer wants to speak with you. In most cases, it’s not because they know you personally. It’s because they want somebody who’s empowered to make them happy and solve their problem. If you entrust your team members to give discounts, freebies, and special treatment, then the need to speak with you goes away.
Another benefit of staying out of most customer complaints is it gives your team a final option to save a client who might otherwise leave. In extreme cases, they can escalate the situation up to you, proving to the irate caller how much you value their business.
This is all well and good in theory but can be hard to execute within a large organization where the items listed above are in your job description, not your assistant’s. The trick is to find ways to create openings in your team members’ schedules.
Luke Fitzpatrick has been published in Forbes, Yahoo! News and Influencive. He is also a guest lecturer at the University of Sydney, lecturing in Cross-Cultural Management and the Pre-MBA Program. You can connect with him on LinkedIn.