Well-respected business coach Peter Drucker was once quoted as saying:
“Do what you do best and outsource the rest.”
What comes to mind when you hear that? Most likely it’s a long list of things you should be outsourcing and don’t deserve your time and energy! In the 15 seconds, you’ve just spent thinking about that list, you’ve also vowed to no longer waste time on a few of those items on your list that are crowding your plate. You might be saying, “I really need to hire someone to manage my schedule “or “Someone else should be responsible for these things “ These thoughts are certainly reasonable, but the outsourcing we are going to cover today is more strategic than you might think.
Instead of viewing outsourcing as a chance to create more time for YOU, think about how outsourcing could create opportunities for OTHERS on your team.
This shift from focusing on YOU to OTHERS is an important one to make. A great leader is always one step ahead of career path advancement for key contributors. Take some time to evaluate each direct report you have and ask yourself the following questions,
“What are they capable of becoming over the next few years and beyond?”
“What do you need to teach them to advance their responsibilities and skillsets?”
CONGRATULATIONS! You have now defined your first round of opportunistic outsourcing.
Shift your focus from performance management to professional development. Many leaders struggle to spend the same amount of time talking about where they see a key contributor’s career going as they do talking about how they are doing deadlines and quotas. They even avoid putting key contributors in situations where they may fail but fosters professional and personal growth.
This shift requires leaders to believe in others a little more than they believe in themselves.
When you focus too heavily on the survivors of a given group, you tend to ignore important qualities about the rest of the population. In entrepreneurship, we tend to gravitate toward the most successful entrepreneurs in the world when we study examples like Richard Branson, Bill Gates, and Mark Zuckerberg. When you learn about their back story including that they all dropped out of college, many people might conclude that you don’t need a college education to succeed.
The mistake people make is that for every Branson, Gates, and Zuckerberg, there are far more entrepreneurs who dropped out of school and failed in business. The difference is that we just don’t hear about them. Look equally upon failures and success stories for guidance.
So far, we have been focusing on key contributors in the success of your organization. What about those who hover just below that line?
One option is certainly to perpetually focus on proactive hiring that improves the strength of your bench. Spend less time addressing repetitive performance issues and instead craft a hiring plan that proactively attracts the “A” or “B+” contributors to the team.
An additional option is to outsource. Give others the chance to take on tasks and responsibilities they are passionate about and have success doing. It’s important to be sensitive to individuals’ skills and interests here. You can do this by matching “the dreamer” with more creative tasks or “the perfectionist” with detail-oriented projects. Don’t focus solely on the thriving individuals within your team, but outsource thoughtfully to those to whom you are still trying to uncover their fullest potential.
Questions are the Key
Not sure what to outsource? Ask some of these questions to your team in order to assess the present and design your future:
- When you come to work each day, what do you look forward to doing?
- What are you learning here?
- What is something you’d like a chance to try?
- Do you like what you are currently doing?
- What can I do to make your experience here better?
- When was the last time you feel like you over-delivered on something? What was it, and why did you work so hard?
- What’s on your personal and professional bucket list?
- Fast-forward to a few years in the future. What would you be most proud of having accomplished?
Even when individuals are assigned difficult challenges, when they are involved in the decision, there is a considerable increase in performance! Those who volunteer their time to take on a project look at it as developmental, while those who are assigned regard the task as hard labor. Take the initiative now to engage your team’s hearts and minds, so that one day they will have the ability to opportunistically outsource to the next generation of future leaders within your firm.
Top Talent is part of the Sanford Rose Associates network, recognized as one of the Top 10 Search Firms in North America with 90+ offices worldwide. With over 90 years of Logistics experience, Top Talent is a recognized leader in Talent Acquisition for Logistics, Transportation, and Supply Chain. Let us put our team to work for you. To learn more about successful strategies for getting those impact players and game-changers on your team, reach out to us today.
– Michael Monson
President and CEO