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Improve Delegation And Get More Time To Manage Using Four Little Words


Some managers have problems with time management most of the time. And it's some sort of a problem for most managers at least occasionally. Let's face it, all of us face extreme time pressures every so often. Four little words won't be of much help then. But they can make a great difference on a day to day basis.

The Four Little Words

The four little words are "Leave it with me". These four monosyllables can make life awkward for some of us and downright impossible for a few of us. And the solution is so simple.

The Solution

Resolve right now never ever again to say to any employee for any reason "Leave it with me". These words are a rod for your back. They add to your time pressures. They make delegation difficult. And they're a "get out of jail free" card for your employees.

Do This Test Now

Look around your office or workstation. Can you see piles of paper and files that lie there simply because you said "Leave it with me"? How many emails sit impatiently demanding attention in your computer because you said "Send me an email" or something similar: the online equivalent to "Leave it with me".

Interpreting The Result

If there's absolutely no file, pile or email build up, score yourself the perfect 10. If there's a total of 4 or less, score yourself a 7. If there are between 5 and 7, score yourself 5. If there's more than 7 score yourself Ö well, politeness prevents me.

The Snowball Effect

If time management's an issue for you, you know all about this. There's already a handful of matters needing attention because an employee left them with you. An employee says "What do you want me to do about this?" You say "Leave it with me" because you're so busy. Now you have 7: then 8 or 9. You accumulate time management problems like a snowball rolling down a snow covered hill. And you become the "too hard basket" for your staff by default.

The Alternative

"Ok Leon," I hear you saying. "That's very smart. What do I say instead?" There are many things you can say. But two could be most helpful.

1. "I'm too busy to speak about that right now. Come back at (name a specific time) and we'll talk about it. Is that OK with you?" If the employee says "Yes", note the time in your diary and make sure they mark it in theirs. If it's not OK, find out why and fix a mutually agreeable future time.

If the issue's too important to wait Ė genuinely so Ė send the employee to talk to someone else and arrange for them to let you know the outcome of that meeting. Whatever happens, ensure that the employee takes away anything at all they were carrying when they came in.

2. "What do you think I should do?" or "What do you want me to do?" You see, you want your employees to learn that you're not a dumping ground for the difficult issues that occur. And you want them to develop the habit of thinking about solutions or fruitful courses of action when they bring "problems" to you.

If they have no useful ideas, send them to see someone else for advice or suggest other sources of information. Arrange a meeting with them after they've obtained guidance or information. Again, don't allow them to leave anything in your office.

The Payoffs

Your staff will develop better problem solving and communication skills. They'll also learn that you expect them to do their jobs fully: not pass the awkward bits on to you.

You'll avoid the great pile up of "matters awaiting attention". You'll be a better delegator. You'll be free to do more of your management work. That's a good result for avoiding four little words.


Time management is sometimes a difficult business. But we bring lots of our time management problems upon ourselves. I know that there'll be times when avoiding my four little words just won't be enough. But frankly, there'll be far fewer of those times if you avoid them in normal daily business.

About Author Leon Noone :

If you've enjoyed this article, you'll probably also enjoy my FREE, 20 page Special Report, "49 Practical Tips For Better People Management In Small-Medium Business". If you'd like a copy go to <a href="" target="_blank"></a> and it's yours to download FREE.&nbsp; I work with&nbsp; managers in small-medium business to help improve on job staff performance without using training.

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Article Added on Friday, September 10, 2010
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