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Leveraging your linchpins: How to take low value tasks off your superstars’ plates so they can spend more time doing what only they can do

If you walk into a McDonald’s in Belgium and order a Big Mac, chances are it will look and taste the same as what you might find in the McDonald’s in your own hometown. That’s because of the wonder of franchisability, which is based on creating systems and processes that make the food and experience in both locations amazingly similar. On the other hand, there is only one Tom Brady or Frank Sinatra. That’s because we can franchise low-level tasks; but, there are certain things that can only be done by those gifted, talented people who have honed and cultivated their craft to an extraordinary level. These are what Seth Godin refers to as “linchpins” to characterize an indispensable employee with a specific skill in his book, Linchpin: Are you Indispensable?

Most organizations rely on tasks that can be franchised; but it is the linchpins within the organization that are indispensable. Godin describes linchpins as the game-changers of their industries; the ones who have profound impact on their organization and cannot be replaced.

As business owners and managers it’s important to use the power of delegation to maximize the efficiency of those linchpins.

There are certain tasks within any company that require experience that only your linchpins can offer. This is why you need to make sure that the people who are taking on your most valuable tasks have the time and energy to do them well. If you are loading up your most talented employees’ plates with low-value tasks like creating reports, completing paperwork and scheduling travel, they won’t be able to focus on the work that really matters (and that only they can do).

The first step towards achieving this is making a list to divide up your employees’ high-value and low-value activities. High-value activities are the things that only your most talented employees are equipped to do and that excite them. Virtually everything else can be considered a low-value task. Here’s a simple exercise that may help:

Ask your linchpins to make a list divided into two columns with the headers, “Yay” and “Yuck”.

On the “yuck” side, they should list anything they do that feels monotonous or just plain boring to them. On the “yay” side, ask them to list the daily activities in which they truly excel and that they enjoy. You will likely find that the “yuck” items are low-value while the “yay” items are high-value.

People enjoy doing what they are gifted to do and appreciate encouragement to focus primarily on these capabilities.

Next, it’s time to do some math. Break down your employees’ yearly salaries into an hourly wage. Then assess their low-value activities. If there’s anything they are doing that you would pay someone less to do, then you should. This way, your linchpins can focus on more important and more fulfilling tasks.

To fully capitalize on the benefits that only your linchpins can offer, keep these considerations in mind when assigning them duties within your company. You hired these game-changers for a reason– now give them a chance to really shine.

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