Delegation in the Construction Office
Updated: Jul 20
The fundamental, down-to-earth, bottom-line reason for developing your delegation skill is to become effective at getting your staff and others fully engaged in helping you achieve goals.
5 Delegation Facts
The ability to delegate is a critical skill in the construction contracting industry.
Few are born with the capability to delegate well.
Delegation strategies and processes can be learned.
Outcomes are more important than activities.
Delegating well is a sign of strength, not weakness.
Surprising Delegation Levels
It’s a given; delegation starts at the top and flows downward. In its most simple form, the three inclusive levels include:
Staff or Personnel
The fourth layer for some contractors includes apprentices or interns.
It may surprise you to learn of two more delegation layers that you’re already using that play a part in your delegation strategy.
Outsourced Service Providers
Apps or software
See Delegation in 3-D
Mastering the technique of dealing with management clutter begins with the understanding of the important trio of Ds.
Do the things vital to building, guiding, and growing your core business.
Delegate the tasks that are either outside your scope or best handled by others.
Delete the rest, the things that, on reflection, you realize don’t matter.
One strategy for delegating well is based on distinguishing between what you must do and what must be done. It’s subtle, but it’s essential.
And it takes time – at first.
For example, if in your household you’ve decided the beds must be made every day, then you can make all the beds or teach your children to make their own.
Sure enough, teaching children to make their beds slows you down. You could make them much more quickly and get on to other business. Worse yet – when they make their beds, they aren’t all that good at it at first. The temptation is to do it yourself or correct their mistakes yourself.
But as a good parent, you know that they will learn in the overall scheme of things, and you will eventually have taken the bed-making chore off your list completely.
The children will have gained a skill, be proud of their ability, and (perhaps most importantly) will see that they have a capacity for learning more.
Step by Step
Taking the above example of bed-making duties, here is a breakdown of how delegating works.
Set the example – make your own bed every day.
Show or teach them the techniques used in bedmaking – remember they won’t get it on the first try.
Continue working with them until they do understand.
Don’t get hung up on thinking yours is the only way to make a bed – they may surprise you with an alternative that is quicker or easier.
The payoff for you is that you’ll no longer be saddled with all the bedmaking chores.
The bigger payoff is that eventually, you’ll be able to assign the children the task of making your bed and have lightened your load even further.
The Benefits of Delegating
It is easy to see that one benefit of appropriately delegating to others is that you have more time to take care of the more important matters of running your construction company. But there are other benefits that you may not have thought of.
You’ll likely gain knowledge and understanding about various aspects of your business. The simple principle involved is that you better understand a concept, skill, or technique when you’re able to teach someone else.
You’re able to increase your critical thinking process. Breaking down a concept or skill in digestible steps for someone else is excellent practice for your mind.
Delegating to your team and accomplishing tasks worth being proud of is a powerful way of forming trust and positive relationships.
Avoiding burnout (that feeling that you’re needed with such intensity that you can’t muster the energy to make it through the day) involves building a business culture of delegation. In that culture, you aren’t needed for every minute detail and all attendant activity at all times because you and your team have mastered the art of delegation. Delegation of tasks isn’t a chore or a threat but a natural aspect of your business.
Start with One
You may be thinking, “it’s really easier if I just do it myself,” or “I don’t have time to show someone else.” If so, remember that that action plan is unsustainable and will lead to the burnout mentioned above.
One way to begin or practice the art of delegating is to start with just one task that can more easily be passed on to someone else.
Determine the task.
List the necessary steps to be taken.
Delegate the task to the person you’ve identified as the best person to take it on.
Just a few of the things you can consider for in-house delegating are:
Delegating to outside sources may include:
Human resource management
Safety and insurance management
Finally, look for (or delegate someone on your team to look for) apps and software designed to lighten your load.
Construction designated CRMs
Construction management software
Remember, delegation is passing on tasks or authority to employees, service providers, software solutions, or others as needed.
Avoid Delegation Take Backs
Taking back the power you’re giving up by delegating is one of the hardest things to avoid. If you take back complete control too quickly without giving the designated person a chance to learn, you’ve wasted their time and yours. In effect, you disempower them and are right back to overload for yourself.
It is fine to continue teaching and instruction if you notice a problem or are asked a question, but taking back the entire load isn’t the best solution.
Note: Do Not be a helicopter boss! Don’t be always hovering, looking for mistakes or problems. It is OK to be available, but constant interruption is not good for you or those to whom you’ve delegated a task.
You know that entering the data or dealing with other repetitive or menial tasks wastes the time you could spend on executive-level and decision-making duties and responsibilities. Taking back what you’ve delegated only compounds the problems you were already facing.
The next post in this series, Avoiding Micromanagement, is about taming the delegation process. Go ahead and check it out. You can find the final post in this series, Alternative Construction Office Delegation, concerning means of delegating you might not have thought of before. Look it over.
Reflection: Is it possible to learn to delegate so well that eventually, your team will be doing the delegating for you?
Construction Contractors look to The Profit Constructors to provide advocacy in dealing with:
Clients and customers
Employees and subcontractors
Vendors and service providers
Working with The Profit Constructors gives Construction Contractors the means to organize their operations in ways that help them:
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