If You Want The Job Done, Don't Do It Yourself


Words: Damian Lang
Photo: PixelsEffect

When I started my masonry business 37 years ago, I, like most inexperienced business owners trying to make a profit, had to wear many hats. I was living in a 14’ by 70’ mobile home with a 6’ by 8’ office in it. I was hustling from the moment my feet hit the floor in the morning until I collapsed in bed at night. 

When I was not laying brick or block, bidding jobs, talking with contractors, dealing with employee issues, taking care of payroll, ordering materials, or making supply runs, I had my nose in a book trying to expand my knowledge on how to create a successful business. 

During those early years, I ran so fast that I would often twist and sprain an ankle that would lay me up for a few days, bang my head on overhead doors at the shop due to running up the steps too fast, and would have equipment fall off trailers because I never took the time to tie it down correctly. One time my truck rolled a couple hundred feet down a hill through the side of my shop because I jumped out without taking the time to set the emergency break. I will never make that mistake again!

The repairs, bruises, and lumps on the head (not to mention my medical bills) kept piling up. As my company began to grow, I quickly realized that it was impossible for me to maintain all those roles. I remember my dad asking me when I was going to start working with my mind instead of my back. That is when I realized I had to delegate some of my responsibilities before I worked myself into an early grave.

Delegation can be a scary concept, especially for those who like to maintain control. But if you are looking for long-term success, delegating is a fundamental skill of effective leadership. When you assign responsibility for specific tasks to another person, it frees you up to maintain focus on the tasks that result in the highest yield for your business. 

Economist Vilfredo Pareto, who developed Pareto’s Principle, said 80% of consequences come from 20% of the causes. In other words, delegate everything except the 20% of tasks that contribute to 80% of your results.

Where do you start?

  • Lose the ego. In business, you must be able to objectively evaluate your situation and recognize that you cannot do everything yourself. It simply is not a sustainable plan long-term. The sooner you resign yourself to this truth, the better off you will be. 
  • Decide which tasks can be delegated. The leader should focus on managing the critical 20%, because that is the source of the majority of your profits. All other duties can be assigned to members of your team. 
  • Find the right person for each job. The people on your team were hired for their skills and expertise. Align their strengths with the tasks you need managed, but do not be afraid to challenge, stretch, and motivate the right person. You are contributing to their professional development needs, confidence, and competence. This is a great way to groom your future leaders. 
  • Define your expectation. Begin with the end in mind and clearly explain your desired results. Be open to allowing this person to develop their own strategy on how to meet your expectation. There are always multiple ways to accomplish a goal, so if this person can do the job 80% as well as you can, delegate it to them. 
  • Establish a time frame. If you have been working on an activity for weeks or months, you can get it done much quicker by delegating it. Even though the employee may require more time performing the task itself, they likely have less on their list of priorities than you do, so it will still get done faster. When creating timelines for new initiatives, keep this in mind. Establish review dates or schedule checkpoints that are reasonable based on the amount of work you have delegated.
  • Provide the necessary resources and training. If your expectation is for a positive outcome, it is on you to remove any barriers and provide the necessary support. It could be a three-day seminar, access to better technology or equipment, or maybe they just need a mentor. Consider this part of your investment in the employee. The better they are prepared to manage the task, the higher the ROI.
  • Step away. For many leaders, this is the most difficult part, especially if this particular task is something you enjoy doing. Avoid being the dreaded micromanager. That is not to say that you cannot occasionally do a check-in, just be sure to stay hands-off. Ultimately, people want to show what they can do, so trust them and let them grow with you.
  • Evaluate and give clear feedback. This is your chance to see if they understood the task and your expectations. Your evaluation should measure the quality of their work, execution, communication, and results. Did they achieve the end goal that you set for them at the beginning? If not, determine the reason for the shortcoming and articulate a clear plan to improve.

Strong leadership cannot exist without delegation. When used effectively, it creates a culture of collaboration. It is a valuable tool that does not just allow you to be more productive, it empowers your employees and helps them to grow professionally. 

So, if you want the job done, do not do it yourself. You will be amazed at how much you can accomplish through delegation.

Damian Lang is CEO at Lang Masonry Contractors, Wolf Creek Construction, Buckeye Construction and Restoration, 3 PLS Labor Services, Malta Dynamics Fall Protection and Safety Company, and EZG Manufacturing. To view the products and equipment his companies created to make jobsites safer and more efficient, visit his websites at ezgmfg.com or maltadynamics.com. To receive his free e-newsletters or to speak with Damian on his management systems or products, email dlang@watertownenterprises.com, or call 740-749-3512.

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