Eliminating Decision Fatigue to Boost Performance in All Conditions

As we near the end of 2020, there’s one thing we can say for certain. The crises have been coming thick and fast. We may not be out of the woods yet. For those who are planning to start out in business, this year has taught us many lessons. Perhaps the biggest is that you can’t do everything yourself.

You must avoid decision fatigue

If you have made all the decisions and executed all the tasks needed just to survive this year, you’re probably exhausted. You may be suffering from decision fatigue. That’s going to affect your will power, motivation, and the ability to make good decisions.

The answer is to prioritize tasks, simplify your choices, and prepare early for the next day. Central to this is to adopt a delegating management style.

What is a delegating management style?

Some people wrongly believe that delegating is handing off tasks to subordinates. If this were the case, it wouldn’t help you to tackle your decision fatigue, because you still decide what is to be done, how, when, the resources that are needed, and so on.

A delegating management style only delivers the desired results when you give someone else the power to decide all these things. To delegate successfully you must:

  • Hand over control

  • Allow the person to make decisions

  • Monitor, but not micromanage

  • Remain accessible to resolve any issues

The cons of a delegating management style

Let’s tackle the downside of delegating first. There are a few:

  • The person you delegate to doesn’t have the right skillset for the task, and consequently it gets screwed up

  • You don’t trust the person you delegate to, and consequently you try to do everything yourself

  • You don’t hand over any interesting or challenging tasks, and the person you delegate to loses their enthusiasm

  • You don’t credit people for work that is done well, and they lose motivation to take on more work

  • You don’t delegate authority with the task, and so you end up micromanaging (similar to your trust issues)

You’ll notice that there is a common thread running through all these disadvantages of delegating: you.

The pros of a delegating management style

You’d expect the pros to outweigh the cons, and they do – quite spectacularly when you delegate effectively. Here are the main advantages bulleted for you:

  • You use your workforce efficiently

  • You free up your time to do higher-value work and business-enhancing projects

  • Your people make faster decisions, and that leads to happier customers

  • Your team is more highly motivated

  • There’s a better understanding of your business

  • Communication in your business will improve

  • People learn faster and upskill more effectively

  • You’ll benefit from a flow of new ideas and innovation of working practices

  • You’ll build a team that is multi-talented and able to cover for absences

Perhaps best of all, you’ll be less fatigued, and you might even be able to take some time out to do the other things that you most enjoy and that make your life so much more satisfying.

The two things you need to be good at delegating

I couldn’t run my business if I didn’t delegate. Entrepreneurs who don’t delegate don’t grow their businesses. It’s impossible to do everything yourself and continue growing – you don’t have infinite energy and time.

The art of delegation comes down to two key factors. Get these right and you’ll mitigate all those disadvantages that have you as their focal point.

  1. Know your people

You cannot delegate effectively unless you know the strengths and weaknesses of your people. You must understand their motivations, their abilities, and their skillsets.

  1. Know what decisions to delegate

Remember, you’re not only delegating tasks. You’re delegating the decision-making, too. In its article ‘For smarter decisions, empower your employees’, McKinsey describes the A, B, C, D of decisions:

  • A = Ad hoc decisions that may impact your business

  • B = Big-bet decisions that have major consequences for your business

  • C = Cross-cutting decisions that are frequent and require collaboration across functions

  • D = Delegated decisions that are frequent, familiar, and can be assigned to individuals or teams

Here’s what I know

If you learn to trust your people, and delegate responsibility for the everyday decisions to the right people, you’ll free your time to spend on your business rather than in your business. It may be the single action that has the biggest positive effect on your business growth. During periods of crisis, your power to delegate will help you focus on the big issues while your people keep the business performing as it should.

When you delegate instead of micromanaging, you help to build trust, loyalty, and motivation. But you’ve got to know your people first. Get out there and share your experiences and knowledge with them. Listen to what they have to say. Ask them what they want from their work. Then create plans to help them achieve their goals as they help you to achieve yours.

When was the last time you delegated the responsibility of decision-making? Tell me, what one task can you select today to delegate to someone else? If there isn’t one, why not? What is stopping you from adopting a delegating management style?

I look forward to your comments, and I’ll try to answer them all – either directly or in future articles.


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