delegation diagram

Moses’ father-in-law named Jethro taught Moses the ‘principle of delegation‘ —after Moses had successfully led the Israelites out of Egypt from the hands of Pharoah.

Just after they left Egypt they camped near the mountain of God, it was there Moses met with Jethro

Exodus 18:5

During his visit, Jethro taught Moses the how to delegate in the most sublime way after he watched Moses performed his daily leadership duties and he noticed that Moses and the people were overwhelmed because of Moses’ modus operandi. As written in Exodus 18;

The next day, Moses had the special job of judging the people. There were so many people that they had to stand before him all day. Jethro saw Moses judging the people.

He asked, “Why are you doing this? Why are you the only judge? And why do people come to you all day?”

Exodus 18:13-14

Although Moses was doing an incredible job judging the dispute of the people. He also saw it as an opportunity to enlighten the people about God’s laws and teachings.

However, Jethro knew Moses’ method of judging the people was exhausting and unsustainable. And, he advised Moses in Exodus 18:21;

You and these people who come to you will only wear yourselves out. The work is too heavy for you; you cannot handle it alone. 

Listen now to me and I will give you some advice, and may God be with you. You must be the people’s representative before God and bring their disputes to him.

Exodus 18:18-19

As a business leader, you may still be tempted to handle many managerial tasks even when you have adequate employees. Probably, just like Moses in the bible you believe you’re the only one that could handle all such tasks.

In addition to being overly burdened with many daily tasks, you’re stifling the growth of your business. Consequently, you may be handling backlogs every new day.

Then, you can imagine that Moses often sends some of the people away. So they could come back the next day because of his daily capacity limit.

In order to break out from such unhealthy backlog cycle, you have to pull in delegation strategy into your business. However, If you feel overwhelmed on what to delegate, you may seek a business adviser or consultant.

Nevertheless, you can still learn from Jethro’s advised to Moses on what his role should be when delegating to others. So, he said as written in Exodus;

Let these rulers judge the people. If there is a very important case, then they can come to you and let you decide what to do. But they can decide the other cases themselves.

In this way, these men will share your work with you, and it will be easier for you to lead the people. 

Exodus 18:22
Organizational Structure

One of the remarkable pieces of Jethro’s advice was his intrigued sense of organizational structure —vital to effective delegation. As written in Exodus;

Make these men rulers over the people. There should be rulers over 1000 people, 100 people, 50 people, and even over ten people.

Exodus 18:21b

The organizational structure simply shows how activities are coordinated among the people to achieve its goals. Also, it simply answers these questions;

  • Who reports to who?
  • Who reports to me?

Well, If you have been running your business on your own for a while, it seems challenging to easily identify which task to delegate.

The exercise below will assist you to identify tasks you can delegate;

Firstly, write down the task you do in your business daily. So, start by walking through what you do from morning to evening daily of a typical working week.

Secondly, write down how long it takes to complete each task. And if you haven’t keep track previously, start by setting a timer when you begin any task.

Thirdly, rank each task with number 1,2,3 depending on the priority
  • 1 – I ‘m the only one that can do this task
  • 2 – I ‘m not confident others can handle it well
  • 3 – others can do this

Even if you don’t have a team to delegate to currently, it is still important you carry out this exercise.

This will serve as a guide on the type of employee to hire when you need one —having the right employees make delegation easier to implement.

As a business owner sometimes you find it difficult to delegate because you have hired an employee that has a low competency level for the kind of task you need to delegate. And probably you have hired him/her because of your low budget to get highly skilled personnel.

If you’re in such a situation when you know your budget cannot hire top skilled personnel. Then, find people that are teachable like a disciple —similar to an apprenticeship model where they learn from you in return they agree to work for you for a specified period.

Choosing the right employee(s) to delegate

Jethro advice to Moses in Exodus 18:21 sums up the qualities to look for when selecting employees that will lead others. As a Christian entrepreneur, you should choose people you can trust and also respect God.

But you should also choose some of the people to be judges and leaders.“Choose good men you can trust—men who respect God. Choose men who will not change their decisions for money.

Exodus 18:21a

Takeaway: As you begin to grow your business, you will realize there is so much on your table you shouldn’t be handling on your own. Therefore, define the structure that works for your business to delegate effectively.

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