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Barking dog - The Admin ROI Concept

Barking Dog is the ultimate metaphor for those who are working below their pay grade. Dogs bark, and it is a senseless, repetitive activity. It is what they do... one of the things they are bred to do. Barking represents all the low-level activities you do that could easily be done by somebody else at much lower cost.

There are solutions readily available to avoid wasting your time this way. If you have accepted the argument that working below your pay grade simply compromises your self-worth, then this is the concept for you. You will need, first of all, to identify the tasks that should be eliminated and then develop a plan to delegate them.

There are two different but allied common Barking scenarios.

Why have a dog and bark yourself? Is there somebody in your organization who could take over the tasks that you are handling that are below your pay grade? You need to identify what they are and find a way to delegate them to somebody else in your organization.

Why bark when you can hire a dog to do it for you? If you cannot delegate because you do not have anybody you can hand the task down to then look harder and find someone. If you cannot find someone within your organization, then make an effort to find somebody outside your organization…it is a lot easier than you think.

It is all too easy to continue doing tasks that are below your pay grade. Remember that the biggest obstacle to removing them is you…and you should carefully examine whether the difficulty you feel in letting go of the mundane things that you do is really an excuse that you are putting up to keep ”the illusion of control” by doing everything yourself.

If you can use existing employees to do the barking that is relatively simple, though the delegation still requires organizing. If there is not anybody, then you should hire somebody...and the excuse that you cannot afford the expense may not hold much water. Hiring somebody is easy to do in this economy, and they do not have to be full time or work in your office.

You can hire a virtual assistant on a part-time basis to take care of tasks that can be handled remotely and do it for as little as $10 an hour. Advertising on Craigslist is inexpensive and effective, and you will find people who meet your criteria. One idea to build a decent connection with part time workers is to pay them a retainer that guarantees them a certain number of hours.

Consider a retainer of $200 a month to guarantee 20 hours of work. If you fall short then the part-time worker is the beneficiary. If you use more time, then pay the extra time at the hourly rate. By making this kind of commitment, it gives you a chance to develop a better relationship; if it does not work, then it may have cost you a few dollars, but it brings with it the chance to develop into a more important business connection.

I often get resistance to this concept, and many people feel that spending money hiring people simply is not justified. If your internal excuse clock is telling you that you can’t afford the additional expense, then go through the following Return on Investment Analysis exercise to show you the real opportunity cost of working below your pay grade:

The Admin ROI Concept

If you go through this exercise and understand the Admin ROI Concept then you will be ready and eager to delegate the barking.

1. Establish the value of your time

If you have been following these articles, then you will already have gone through the exercise of identifying the value of your time. If you have not, then go to the article “Establishing the Value of your Time” and follow the steps laid out there. Once you have established the value of your time, then you can start to work through the Return on Investment Analysis

2. Identify the Task to be Removed

Again, if you have been following these articles, you will know that there are several different methodologies for identifying tasks to be removed from your day because they are below your pay grade. You do not have to look at the articles to identify what needs to be removed from your day, but if it is helpful you can find them at However you do it, identifying things to be removed from your day is an essential first step.

3. Identify the Cost of Removing the Task

Once you have identified the task to be removed, then you can identify what it would cost to hire somebody to take it over. That somebody may already be in your organization, and that makes the issue much easier. But if there is nobody, you may need to hire somebody external and incur an additional cost.

4. Identify the “Effective Time Factor”

I accept that anybody that you delegate to will do the work much less efficiently than you would. Maybe what you can do in an hour will take somebody else three times as long, but that really doesn't matter. identify how much time you think you will save for each hour that you have somebody else do the work and come up with the “Effective Time Factor”.

5. Calculate The Delegation ROI

Having gone through the prior steps, this last one is really easy. Take the cost per hour of the new “employee” and multiply it by the “Effective Time Factor”. Then express that number as a percentage of the value rate for your time ….and you will see some spectacular numbers.

A simple example will make this clear, and I will use one from my own experience when I first became a consultant.

I was working hard to build up an income stream, and felt that it was inappropriate to spend money on an assistant when I had a surplus of available time. What I failed to realize was that if I made the investment in an assistant then the return would be extraordinary, and that I would be able to build my consulting practice much more quickly by implementing this important decision.

I calculated that the value of my time was $350 an hour back then, and proposed to hire somebody at $15 an hour. I figured that she would take [with training] three times as long to do anything than I would and proceeded to go through the calculation.

Based on the parameters outlined above, the calculation looked like this:

Value of Executive Time $350

Rate per Admin Hour $15

Effective Time Factor 3

Effective Cost $45

Return on Investment 778%

What this says is that my time is worth so much more than the cost of anybody else that I can reasonably hire, and the Return on Investment by doing so is a staggering 778%. Where else in your business can you get returns like that?

There is one story that I would like to share here. I had a client a while back before I got so aggressive about this. He was a baker with a retail store and I was trying to help him with some issues in his business. I was due to meet with him one day, and when I called him to confirm he told me that he could not spare the time because he was driving the truck that whole week.

When I asked him about this he told me that his driver was off, and that he couldn't afford to hire somebody else to drive the truck so he was doing it himself! This is a respectable argument if you are simply going to sit in the office and play computer games.... but if you plan to use your time to grow your business, then driving a truck at $12 an hour when you could be working on your business at over $200 an hour simply makes no sense.

Are there examples in your business that reach this level of futility? If there are, have you identified them and what are you doing to hire a dog so that you do not have to bark yourself?


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Time Management Tips

  • When somebody interrupts you when you are busy, don't let them interrupt your train of thought. Ask them to come back and see you at a specific time – you may be surprised that they actually figure out the answer and don't come back to ask you.

  • Everybody has about three hours during the day when they are at their best. Figure out what your "Prime Time" is and then plan your day around it. Make sure that you dedicate that time to focus without interruptions on the activities that are of most value to you.

  • It is all too easy to waste time on phone calls. Keep an egg timer next to the phone to keep track of exactly how long you are talking. It will keep the time you are spending in the forefront of your mind and will help you handle the call more efficiently.

  • Never go to the bank to deposit checks, it is a Time Bandit way below your pay grade, and claiming it is therapeutic and gets you out of the office is deluding yourself. Send somebody else!  Better still, get a check scanning machine...and make sure the bank pays!

  • Organize your office so the door isn't in your immediate line of vision. The big payoff is that people can't appear at your door, hover, catch your eye and distract you. If you make it harder to interrupt you, people may figure out answers themselves rather than asking you.

  • When you have to give out an e-mail address to somebody who's going to send you things you don't want in your inbox, give them a special "junk" e-mail address. Then set up a rule so that everything to that address goes to a folder you review on your timetable.

  • When somebody interrupts you to ask you a question always reply with a question back. Ask them how they would deal with it, and make them think proactively rather than just relying on you. A good technique is to ask: "If I wasn't available today, what would you do?"

  • If your key customers expect you to answer the phone at all times, get an Internet phone line and give them a "VIP" phone number to call. Set it up with a unique ring on your system and you'll know that calls on that line are from your most important customers.

  • Most people have a “To Do” list to record the tasks they need to "Get Done", but it doesn't help identify what you shouldn't do yourself. For that you need a “To Don’t” list. Identify the culprits, put them on the list and defend your time by assigning them elsewhere. 

  • E-mails have overtaken the phone now as the most dangerously effective of all Time Bandits. Turn off your e mail alert and check your e-mail only four times a it on your schedule not the schedule of the people who are interrupting your more productive work.

  • E-mails have overtaken the phone as the most dangerously effective of all time wasters. The worst thing is the e mail alert that pops up on your computer screen. Don't let other people interrupt you in this way and take back control of your time by turning the alert off

  • When somebody interrupts you while sitting at your desk, stand up. It changes the pace of the interaction and sends a message to the interrupter that they have invaded your time. The more you can send this message, the more effective you will become at protecting your time.

  • When somebody comes to you with an issue they should figure out themselves, don't allow yourself to relieve them of the burden and take it on yourself. Instead of saying "leave it with me" when this happens, say "never delegate upwards" and ask them for their solution.

  • Entrepreneurs wear so many of the hats in their business that many of the tasks they carry out are at a level way below the real value of their time. Are you working below your pay grade by not handing off menial tasks that should be done by others?

  • When you are hiring new employees, ask candidates about their time management abilities. The best employees are those that can prioritize their work and handle interruptions, so be sure to ask relevant questions to probe in those areas so that you hire somebody who has those skills.

  • Email has become a huge time-waster and taking control of your Inbox is becoming more critical than ever. The ideal state is only to have things in your Inbox that are important, urgent or time sensitive, and to put everything else automatically into folders using Rules governing what happens when they come in. I’ve been using Outlook Rules for a number of years to sort specific topics, but I recently came across a new rule that makes a dramatic difference.

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Most people have a “To Do” list to record the tasks they need to "Get Done", but it doesn't help identify what you shouldn't do yourself. For that you need a “To Don’t” list. Identify the culprits, put them on the list and defend your time by assigning them elsewhere.