Jon Pratlett

Jon Pratlett has over two decades of experience, coupled with extensive study and on the ground action, supporting leaders and their teams steward their organisations to transform to their desired state.


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Jon at the Hawaii Ironman Triathlon 2000 World Championships - 3.8k Swim, 180k Bike & 42k Run.


Effective Delegation. Doing More With Less. Part 2

Delegation is an acquired skill. It is also a mindset. Research by David Maister in his book ‘Managing the Professional Service Firm’  showed that “for the typical professional service firm….. 40%-50% of the firm’s entire productive capacity is consumed with a higher-priced person performing a lower value task”.

In other words, poor delegation means that senior staff do work which does not require their skills and as a consequence the cost of the job is higher than it should be. This is poor use of available resources - definitely not ‘doing more with less.’

Other costs of under delegation include not developing others, low morale, people in ‘Disuse’, under utilised, leading to increased errors, sick leave and higher staff turnover. It also results in the business not being worked on, rather than in, by its most senior people.

To delegate well requires then, the right mindset and preparation (as discussed in Part 1). Here is a quick reminder. What is missing from it? I suggest you print off the page and fill in the missing detail, including point 7, from Part 1.

Part 3 of ‘Doing More With Less’ Effective Delegation, will look at who we delegate (assign the task) to. Until then - have a great week.


Effective Delegation - Doing More With Less. Part 1

Today, our ability to ‘do more with less’, covers all aspects of business and life. Examples abound. How much was a mobile phone 15 years ago and what did you get? A very expensive (many thousands of dollars) mobile (brick) phone. Today we go into a store to buy a mobile phone and walk out with, say an iphone, that gives us an address book, calendar, calculator, camera, email, world clock, stopwatch, notepad, Dictaphone, music player, photo album plus, plus, plus! And it fits in the palm of our hand!

In business, ignoring technology for now, leaders, managers, supervisors and team leaders each day have the opportunity to do ‘more with less’ in many ways, one of which is through effectively delegating or assigning tasks to others. The key here though is the word effectively.

How often have you said or heard ‘If you want a job done well, do it yourself!’ I don't have accurate statistics, but I'm sure you and I can both come up with a multitude of examples of where resources, time, materials, money, effort etc. are wasted due apparently to people's inability to follow instructions.

The reality however, in my experience, after nearly 2 decades of leadership training and development with many of Australia’s top companies, is that more often than not leaders are very poor at delegation. Tasks are often assigned on the fly, with little fore-thought, plenty of assumptions and a lack of opportunity for the person being given the task to clarify and confirm their commitment to it. (Even if the appropriate person was picked for the task).

Today we will cover a 6 step formula, that will greatly enhance your ability to do ‘more with less’ through others. Here we deal with Part 1 – Preparation for Task Assignment/Delegation

This was originally developed by Elliott Jacques (see his books Executive Leadership or Requisite Organisation).

So, to save you time, money, frustration, re-work and conflict and provide opportunities for your people to get to work, feel trusted to use their discretion and succeed - in other words everybody ‘Doing More with Less’ I suggest you do the following:

Before delegating/assigning a task consider and answer the following questions carefully –

Step 1 - Purpose? - What do I want/need the end result to be?

Step 2 - Context? - Why do I want/need it? How does this integrate with other tasks in this and

other areas of the business. Who needs liasing with?

Step 3 - Quantity? - How many do I want/need?

Step 4 - Quality? - To what standard, format, finish?

Step 5 - Resources? – What am I making available for this to happen? (Equipment, budget, support, guidelines, people, time, limits, authority)

Step 6 - Time to Completion? – When specifically do I need it? When do I want progress updates? How do I want them?

Once thought through, chances are, you will be surprised at what you might not have considered as well as who are the most appropriate candidates for the task. You will achieve significantly ‘more with less’ by just applying Part 1 above – Planning.

As the saying goes ‘Proper, Prior, Planning, Prevents, Piss, Poor, Performance and whole lot else!

Taking ‘doing more with less’ to a whole other level will be Parts 2, 3 and 4 Assigning the Task’ - which will be the subject of my upcoming blog posts, and will cover:

- How to communicate the above and to whom.

- Creating the conditions that provide the greatest probability for successful delegation/assignment

- Gaining clarity, commitment, engagement and accountability?

 In the meantime, your comments and questions are invited.


Hussle Not Hassle - A World of Difference

When it comes to getting things accomplished through people – Hustle is the key. No, not unpleasantly. No, not to become a total nuisance. No, not so that people see you from a distance and move away quickly, hoping you won’t notice.! That constitutes hassling and turns others off. Hustle not Hassle!

Hassle is those unsolicited phone calls you get when you are about to have dinner; it’s the committee chairperson who thinks you have nothing better to do than handle their queries at any time of the day or night; it’s the person who just can’t take a hint and persists in trying to engage or sell you on something that you have little or no interest in. It’s those annoying American Express card representatives at the airport and in shopping centres.

To get sustainable results you must consistently, firmly and pleasantly “Hustle” not hassle.

Hustle is where you invite people to become involved in a project, club or event; you elicit from them their needs and wants and show them how they might genuinely get these met through the project.

Case study –  Bondi Running & Triathlon Club’s bid for the State Titles

In my sporting life outside of my consulting work, our leadership team at the Bondi Running and Triathlon Club – BRAT’s (all volunteers) have hustled our way, very successfully, to State Championships in the sport of Triathlon over the past 5 years, after a history of consistent 3rd placings and a very big gap to 2nd and 1st. In the process we upset the two top Triathlon clubs in the state, Warringah and Cronulla, capturing the quodos, bragging rights and more importantly, clout necessary to increase our attractiveness to sponsors, existing and potential new members.

A one off?  Not on your Nelly. Not only have we taken out the NSW Club Championships or been runner up for the past 5 years we have also become National Club Champions every year since it’s inception 3 years ago. The main success criteria we discovered was numbers.

In the sport of Triathlon, outside of the elite, races are competed in male and female 5 year age groups right through to 70+.

Filling every 5 year age group from 15 years old through to 70 was crucial. In addition, providing 3 qualified officials from your club, who had officiated at a minimum of 3 races during the season was vital, as each contributed 10 points to the eventual points tally.

Triathletes can, of necessity be quite a selfish breed due to the incredible amount of time required to train for the 3 different disciplines that make up Triathlon – Swim, Bike and Run. Also, the State Championships until 2006 was the only race in a season which was scored on the basis of the combined results of club members. In all other races you would just race as an individual – your club affiliation being recognised but having no influence on the result.

Therefore, getting members or lapsed members to the State Clubs Championship, held at Port Stephens since its inception in 1995, had traditionally been very tough and our team would hover around 45 to 55 people in total. Some members would not be members Triathlon NSW (a requirement to race at State Clubs Championships) because they weren’t racing during the season and therefore didn’t want to pay for the required license. Hustle not hassle became the key to our successfully ‘minding the gap” between our previous intentions and our desired reality.

In 2002 we experienced our first State Clubs Championship win, with a total team of 126 people. The following year other clubs responded by recruiting much larger numbers to race where total entries rose from around 480 in 2002 to 980 in 2006. Using the same formula the BRAT Club has gone on to win the first 3 Australian Triathlon Clubs Championships in 2006 and 2007 and 2008.

7 Keys to Hustling for Success

1.    Be clear on What you are aiming for and Why. (You need a good reason to Hustle)

We had never won the NSW Clubs Championships before and doing so would give all our members even more reason to be proud of our great club and bring us closer; we would improve our profile as a club in the triathlon and general community; we would attract more sponsorship which would mean we could put on more events for members. Great Reasons!

2.    Communicate early, clearly and regularly reinforcing the What and Why. (You can refer to these communications when you hustle)

In our case we sent an initial email 9 months out from the event with an accommodation request form. We included our goal and results from previous year which we wanted to better. We then followed up as the event came closer so did the frequency of our communication – including daily during the last week - “6 sleeps to go!” “5 sleeps to go!”

3.    Build a hand picked team of Hustlers. (Ensures you select the appropriate people and helps overcome any psychological resistance to Hustling )

Involve them in setting stretch targets; their agreement to be held to account, and the metrics that will be used. (People are more likely to hustle if they know they are being measured and will be held to account) In Triathlon we compete in 5 year age groups, male and female, right up to 70 -74. We had an age-group captain for each of the 13 age groups for each sex – 26 people with a clear mandate and the resources to follow through. We also had one male captain and one female captain to oversee and hold all the age group captains for their gender to account.

4.    Provide the team with the appropriate resources. (This enables the team to Hustle and takes away excuses)

We provided every age-group captain with the email and phone numbers for everyone in their age-group and highlighted the know top performers who were our priorities along with key milestones to be achieved.

5.    Keep the pressure on. (Hustlers make the phone calls, have face to face meetings, illicit a promise, secure a deposit, remove obstacles and follow-through)

Get the team to track their success on multiple levels  – Verbal commitments are not enough these days. Money talks! Provide examples of when, where and how to Hustle. Focus on places or media frequented by your target audience and enquire as to their availability/confirm their availability and ask them to recruit others.

As the Club Captain and then President during much of this time I needed to role model the behaviours I was seeking from the team - Every day I would arrive at training early and talk to people before, during and after training, barring work and travel commitments. When I showed up for coffee after training I would gauge people’s reaction to my presence to ascertain whether I was taking this too far; confirm conversations by email, with more context and numbers and ask for their help.

6.    Provide a Specific call to action for your target market, ideally with some sort of incentive – (A great excuse for your team to hustle that is in targeted group’s best interest)

“Sign up now and save 15%.”

“Limited accommodation – book yours now to avoid disappointment”

“Be part of history – Make BRAT’s number 1!”.

We would put out regular updates to all our members to let them know how we were going in terms of numbers in each age group and where the gaps were. This also allowed them to help us mind the gaps.

7.    CELEBRATE small successes along the way and communicate them to everyone. (Hustlers love positive feedback).

You must publicise your success or improvement when D-Day is over and truly acknowledge and congratulate everyone - Win or lose. We communicated our results, with some editiorial, to the whole club and used this as our first communication piece for the following year.

Could you apply these principles to your business? Let me know how you fare.


High Performance Space

Like it or not one of our foremost ways of learning are by trial and error.

Being encouraged to have a go, can make an enormous contribution to the realisation of someone’s potential. Creating the appropriate environment (high performance space) for this to occur is a key leadership role. It means providing the necessary limits to ensure that people “having a go” are safe, are not going to cause uncontrolled mayhem (crashing the network) etc. It also requires the assessment of capability

(The mistake, error, mishap)


From our earliest childhood, we have been conditioned that when we do something wrong (not doing something or saying something the way mum, dad or the teacher intended or expected) we will be punished in some way shape or form, be that physical or psychological.

With this response, imprinted so early in life, it is hardly surprising that we have acquired coping strategies for occasions when we perceive such a stimulus. e.g. flinching, as a child, when someone has raised a hand and you thought they might be about to strike you.

Here’s another example:

You hear an almighty crash in the lounge room at home and go to investigate. There stands the 2 kids looking rather sheepish. You ask “What happened?” and the immediate response is  “It was him”, “It wasn’t me”, “she made me do it”…….

When confronted with an error, mishap, accident or someone else’s misperception of our actions or intentions, there is a tendency to resort to:

Justifying/Rationalising our behaviour rather than

Blaming someone or something - (other than or including ourselves)

Denying we were involved

Avoiding the offended person or situation

These behaviours are not condusive to sustained high performance.

Do you see and hear these behaviours around you every day? How do you feel when someone has obviously stuffed something up but won’t own it, or blames someone else? When these types of behaviours are the norm around here, you develop a culture of defensiveness. “That’s the way we are around here”.

I have worked with thousands of professional managers, leaders, sports coaches and athletes over the last 25 years who tell me in workshops, seminars, facilitations and coaching sessions, that they do all of these all too often, as do their staff! They know what they should be doing, but knowing and doing can frequently be a long way apart. They cannot help themselves – it is so ingrained.

Then what should we be doing?

Creating a high performance space by:


How can we possibly do this if our responses to such situations are so ingrained, so automatic, so unconscious?

Step 1 - Be aware - catch yourself doing it.

Step 2 - Acknowledge you’ve created it

Step 3 - Correct it as soon as possible or ask for help

I challenge you to think on this one and experiment with yourself. What does it take to consistently change your knee jerk responses, to a more constructive, rather than defensive mode? Play, experiment, stuff up and observe what happens? If you want to share your observations, I would be delighted to hear from you.

Err, Err and Err Again.
But Less and Less and Less

It’s not what you do, it’s how fast you correct. Given the current business environment, what an opportunity! 

Need some support in developing the above? Email Jon for a complimentary discussion at or call 61 414369412.


The Speed of Trust

One of the keys to my work in supporting leaders and their organisations to thrive is the development of trust. To that end I attended a seminar last week at The Hilton Hotel in Sydney where Stephen M R Covey, the son of Stephen Covey, famous for “The Seven Habits of Highly Successful People. Covey junior, was delving into his best selling book “The Speed of Trust” which has just become a best seller.

Stephen M R Covey on the left and yours truly on the right.

Three of the highlights that I though I would share with you were how:

  1. We have a crisis of trust
  2. High trust drives engagement
  3. High trust increases speed and reduces cost

 1. A Crisis of Trust

• Only 51% of employees have trust and confidence in senior management
• Only 36% of employees believe their leaders act with honesty and integrity
• Over the past 12 months, 76% of employees have observed illegal or unethical conduct on the job—conduct which, if exposed, would seriously violate the public trust
• The top reason people are passed over for promotions is a lack of trust that they will perform
• The number one reason employees leave their jobs is a negative relationship with their boss


Sociologist David Halpern’s research shows that 4 decades ago in Great Britain 60 per cent of the population believed other people could be trusted; today it is down to 29%. In Australia it is 40%; New Zealand 49%; Scandinavia - 68%; The Netherlands 60%. Latin America was only 23% and Africa 18%. Mexico is 31% up from 19% in 1983 indicating that it is possible to increase societal trust.

Trust in Government, media, education and business was low - lowest was business. Consider the number of students who acknowledge that they cheated in order to improve their odds of getting into graduate school.

Liberal arts students 43%
Education students 52%
Medical students 63%
Law students 63%
Business students. 75%

2. Trust drives engagement.

Think for a moment about what it is like working with someone you trust and someone you distrust. Do you behave differently with someone you trust compared to someone you distrust? I know I do. I am more likely to run with things with people I trust with far less scrutiny. With people I feel low trust with I can tend to end up micro managing. What does that do to engagement?

According to the New York Times the Top 20 innovative companies in the world have high trust as the common denominator. A study in the Netherlands of 11 companies found that for every point of trust increase – engagement doubled. 96% of engaged people trust their leaders. Only 46% of those not engaged trusted their leader.

3. High trust increases speed and reduces cost.

“Organizations with high trust outperform organizations with low trust by nearly three times.” Watson Wyatt 2002

“Mistrust double the cost of doing business” Prof John Whitney
Columbia Business School.

The Sarbanes-Oxley Act was passed in the U.S. in response to the Enron, WorldCom and other corporate scandals. While it appears that Sarbanes-Oxley may be having a positive effect in improving or at least sustaining trust in the public markets, it is also clear that this has come at a substantial price. More rules and regulations that have to be followed – more cost and time. Compliance regulations have become a substitute for the lack of trust.

“When you break the big laws, you do not get liberty; you do not even get anarchy. You get the small laws.” G.K. Chesterton (an influential English writer)

Warren Buffet CEO of Berkshire Hathaway and the richest man in the world recently completed a major acquisition of McLane Distribution (a 23 billion company) from Walmart. Typically a merger of this size would take several months to complete and cost several million dollars to pay for all the due diligence. But, in this instance, because both parties operated with high trust, the deal was made with one two hour meeting and a handshake. In less than a month it was completed.

How about this. A donut and coffee street vendor in New York City located outside of one of the big office buildings found that during breakfast and lunch hours he had long lines of customers waiting and many would get discouraged and go elsewhere. As a one man show he realized that what took a disproportionate amount of his time was giving change.

So Jim simply put a small basket on the side of the stand with dollar bills and coins in it and trusted his customers to take their own change. Now far from being ripped of what he found was that his tips went up, he moved people through at twice the speed, customers liked being trusted so came back and his revenues doubled without adding any new cost.

When trust is low, speed goes down and cost goes up. When trust is high, speed goes up and costs go done.

According to Covey, leading organizations who ask their employees directly the following question in formal, 360 degree feedback processes “Do you trust your boss? find this question is more predictive of team and organizational performance that any other question you might ask.

“When trust is high, the dividend you receive is like a performance multiplier, elevating and improving every dimension of your organization and life.” Stephen M R Covey.

When customers feel they can trust you and what you offer they buy more, more frequently and if something goes wrong are more likely to give you the benefit of the doubt.

In conclusion Stephen Covey describes 13 behaviours that induce trust stemming from Character and Competence. 5 behaviours relate to Character; 5 to Competence and 3 are a combination of the Character and Competence.

I trust you found this blog article of interest. Thanks for reading.

For more information check out or email me your questions at

Want to increase the level of trust in your organisation? Call Jon on 61414369412 or 61 2 93694120.