Learning to Delegate Authority in Your Martial Arts Studio

            Being martial artists we’ve been taught by a series of goal attainments or levels of achievement. We’ve attained status in the studio pecking order according to the color of material about our middles and hopefully haven’t allowed our ego’s to override our common sense. If you’ve reigned in your ego and are about to staff up in order to grow, the initial and most difficult portion of your role as an employer is having the ability to delegate.

            A manager’s goal in dealing with a small business is to maximize productivity and efficiency. The job of a manager is to oversee and supervise the operation of your business; the most efficient method to achieve these goals and supervision is through delegation.

            As a martial arts school owner you may fear loss of control and feel the task of delegation is not worth the effort. Much of this “fear factor” has to do with the manager’s inability to communicate to their staff.

            The purpose of this module is to assist you in becoming an effective manager by teaching the methods and skills of delegation.

Delegation is a form of management

            To delegate effectively you must learn how to manage effectively. As a martial arts studio owner and teacher, your time is more valuable than anyone on your staff. How can you delegate tasks that tie up a great deal of your time?

            The first thing you must realize is that your staff need to feel you trust them to do the tasks you hired them for. Failing to do this will hurt morale, cost you money and put added pressure on you.

            To be an effective manager, you must first recognize many obstacles to delegation:

  • Distrust of employees. Feeling someone is not capable of handling the job.
  • Reluctance to share power. Feeling things will get confused if someone other than you is involved in a project.
  • Not fully understanding delegation. Assuming delegation is too time consuming.
  • Perfection Syndrome – It won’t be done right if I don’t supervise it every step of the way.

            If you have any of these thoughts you need to broaden your thinking – delegation is management.

The Area Involving Delegation


            When you delegate authority, you are entrusting a staff member with accomplishing a specific task. This involves responsibility, authority and accountability. The manager retains the responsibility and has final control over the task; yet, the staff member has a responsibility for completing the task to the best of their ability, in a timely manner. Authority is still the managers ultimately, yet, enough may be given to the employee enabling them to acquire the resources necessary to complete their tasks. Employees should be held accountable to meet the tasks assigned.

            In a service business such as the martial arts its important that the sales are monitored by methods of instituting progress reports. This is not an easy task and falls to the Business Manager to complete. The owner delegates the completion of the task to the Business manager who in turn must understand their judgment methods and results will be evaluated. Knowing what is required of them assists your staff in better performance of their jobs.

            Giving them the freedom to innovative in problem solving encourages them to take their jobs seriously and to have satisfaction in a job well done.

            As a manager you must give them trust and time. Faith in your staff is paramount, if they lack the ability in some areas – take the time to train them in the weak area to pick up performance. Let them do what you’ve assigned without holding their hand – it will develop self-confidence. Time to complete a task that is reasonable to you may not be realistic; simply as the employee how long they feel they need.

Reasons to Delegate

            Saving Money – Calculate what an hour of your time costs and compare it to that of your staff. Every time you delegate a task you save money and free up your time for other more pressing duties.

            Assigning a task to the right person – tasks that are done regularly should be assigned to one person. Tasks done repeatedly are done by that individual with greater ease because of experience.

            Training your staff – like any business you will have setbacks due to illness or emergencies. each employee should be cross-trained to handle another’s duties should that person be unable to perform them. This prepares the employee for promotion and makes them more valuable.

            Create a less stressful work environment – when you constantly look over people’s shoulders, they feel you can’t trust them and they won’t function well under stress, it causes friction and creates employee turnover. Let your people do their jobs – assign specific tasks to specific people, give them a goal in some areas and deadlines in others. The goals allow them to attempt to achieve and possibly exceeding it and the deadline helps them meet responsibilities in areas where measurement of aspects of the business help dictate the direction you need to go to make profits.

When to Begin Delegation

            One of the first things we need to do is decide what area we can delegate.

            In a martial arts operation the task of teaching falls to the person most qualified to do the job and who has the experience to complete the long term goals of creating other teachers. We’ll deal with the owner as the chief Instructor.

            The Chief Instructor is the cohesive bond that makes a school strong. Through positive motivation, consistent teaching methodology and being an approachable role model.

            Delegation of teaching duties should be done only to someone who like the Chief instructor is well liked and respected for their ability to communicate in a positive manner to their students. Failure to effectively find the right individual will cause degradation of the student structure.

            The concept of introductory Lessons have proven to be an exceptional motivator in getting people excited about the studio and in signing them up for a term enrollment plan. The Intro is such a vital area regarding potential sales that the class should only be taught by the Chief Instructor or a Black Belt assistant who is charismatic and outwardly positive.

            Begin choosing the tasks you can delegate, not all can be. Divide your workload up to the areas you can delegate and things you can’t and chose how to delegate and train more than one person to do the job in case of an emergency.

Areas that should be delegated:

  • Information gathering
  • Routine procedures
  • Clerical duties
  • Problem solving tasks that can be done just a well by a Manager:
  • Reports
  • Planning
  • Supervision

            In any business a Manager is a position where we have to relate to people and it takes a mature, well-qualified person to meet the challenge. A Business Manager can be equally as effective in areas dealing with training and getting assignments done.

            We spoke about illness and emergencies; it is vital that your business is not interrupted. It is a prudent manager who has trained more then one person to temporarily responsible for the duties in another role.

Areas an Owner should personally attend to:

Discipline – the decision to redress an employee dealing with behavior or job performance.

Major decisions – When a task involves re-direction of revenue, this is the prerogative of the owner who knows where the money must be withdrawn and re-distributed to meet financial responsibilities or respond to areas for growth.

Leadership – Your attitudes directly affect your employees. Maintaining a cheerful attitude keeps them up and reflects in keeping the manager positive also.

Who do we delegate to?

            In many instances employees are suited for additional responsibility. Evaluate each person on a regular basis – exercise patience and don’t make rash decisions.

  • An employee has to show aptitude and steadiness in the performance of their job.
  • Choose skill level to match the task.
  • Show no favoritism – cross train employees to do other jobs – when the time warrants allow them to do other duties to give them practice.

What -Who – When – Where


  1. Who – the person on your staff best adaptable for the task at hand.
  1. What – delegating a task that isn’t clearly explained, understood and reviewed by both parties will lead to confusion and tension.
  1. When – the employee should be assigned a new duty during slow periods when there is adequate time allotted for them to do a god job and when the manager can spend time in the review should problems develop.
  1. Where – Delegation should be done before class periods when the hustle and bustle doesn’t cause constant interruption.

How to specify what you want do

            The biggest complaint I had working in the government sector was my supervisor would place a mountain of projects on my desk with no warning and no instructions – leaving me to muddle through and organize myself and my people to complete them – that is the working of many bureaucracies. We as school owners need to maximize our efforts and waste no time because time is money.

How to convey a task to an employee:

  • Specify the job to be done
  • Describe it thoroughly and tell them the goal you wish to reach.
  • Describe the method you wish to get the job done.
  • Specify the plan of action – setting a reasonable goal can be challenging. Be sure to work within the staff members comfort zone.

Objective setting efforts:

  • Be positive, create an “I know you can do it” scenario, encourage progressive action.

Being a motivator is what keeps us in business

            Motivation is the premise that drives us all, it can assume many forms: financial, personal, and goal setting.

            The most useful motivator is goal setting. People rise to a challenge. Motivation is psychologically based on needs and gratification. An employee’s immediate need stronger than the need for money is security – feeling that they matter, that the ax isn’t always hanging over their heads about to separate them from their means of livelihood.

            Second, is the ability to earn an acceptable wage for the job they are hired to do?

            Third and certainly not the least important is satisfaction or ego. People judge themselves according to their personal performance and in our business, performance is everything.

            Your staff need be positive, progressive and possess attitudes that you as a Manager stimulate to motivate each other.

            When an employee feels they belong, they share an identity, a commonality that fulfills their need for social interaction.

            A manager motivates his staff by creation of several factors:

  1. Making the job mean something to each person.
  1. Creating a position of respect and authority.
  1. Recognition – a nameplate, a desk and business cards – small cost – large befits.
  1. Delegating responsibility – a manager who can show trust in his staff, who assigns specific areas to each, goal sets – so tasks are done in a timely fashion and BIGGEST – acknowledges results – give them praise. Telling someone their ” doing a good job” is vital to their security needs.

One area we can create a motivating factor in a sales organization is by reward. Working as few hours as we do in our business we can do several things:

  • day off with pay
  • tickets to a play, concert or amusement park.
  • movie tickets for the family
  • bonuses in the form of cash or trips for monthly or quarterly goal achievement or exceeding expectations.

How do you improve production through delegation?

            As a manager it is your job to create a more efficient, more productive staff. Use in-house training, workshops, conventions as training grounds to raise personal goals and abilities. If you make a person more marketable they can also become more promotable.

            When you think of the future and your goal is to build your business by creating Black Belts to carry-on your goals by opening satellite centers, you are creating career opportunity for your staff.

            Remember a manager or a studio owner must have a need when assigning a task. The directions must be presented in an effective, clear manner. The means to get the task done should also be made available. Time to complete the task is adequate without being overly generous. And, rewards for a job well-done and even a positive reaction for one not so well done by pointing out areas that could be improved on. Take the blame for errors, its usually caused by unclear communications.


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