The Power Of Delegating

November 8, 2015

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One Of The Hardest Things For Entrepreneurs To Master

Let’s talk about time management.    In particular, let’s talk about the art of delegating.   Delegating is  one of the hardest things to do for entrepreneurs, especially newly minted entrepreneurs.   Why?  Entrepreneurs are, in most cases, control freaks.   We like to know everything, we like to do everything, and let’s be honest, we like to be in control.


There’s so much irony in the story surrounding delegating and entrepreneurs.  On the one hand, entrepreneurs like to do everything and they proudly go around saying,  “If I do it, it’ll get done right!”.    They wear that statement like a badge of honor.   How many times have you heard that one?   On the other hand, entrepreneurs yearn for being more effective with their time.   We want to do more, we want to accomplish more, and we want to grow at all levels.    It doesn’t help that entrepreneurs by nature are sneaky, competitive little bastards either.  From the outside looking in, it may seem like an easy problem to fix, but it isn’t.


Delegating is a learned behavior.  It’s just not natural for an entrepreneur to automatically delegate tasks.   It took me years to learn how to delegate, and to be quite honest with you, I still struggle with it.   Delegating is like anything else though.  The more you practice it, the easier it gets.   And when you start to see how much more you can accomplish when you delegate, the more you’ll find yourself wanting to delegate more!   Now, I should probably mention that trust is a big factor when it comes to delegating.   It all starts with having high trust between you and those with which you work.   If you find yourself in a situation where trust is low among you and your team members, or if you just simply have trust issues altogether, well then, you need to work on getting that fixed before you begin delegating.    A good resource is the book, Speed Of Trust: The One Thing That Changes Everything by Stephen R. Covey, but I digress……


Do you struggle with delegating?  If so, here are some ways you can sharpen your delegating skills.


1)  Pay attention.  What strengths do your team members’ possess?
Your team members are more capable and more talented than you think.  As one of my mentors Neil Ducoff says, “For every pair of hands you hire, guess what!  You get a brain!”   You may be able to do everything Mr. or Mrs. Superpower Entrepreneur, but can you do everything well?   No.  I’m willing to bet there are some team members that have some hidden talents that you’ve managed to overlook because you were busy with your head down doing everything.


Open your eyes.  There’s so much stuff to see inside your company.   I’ve managed to uncover a ton of talent inside of my own team by opening my own eyes and looking around the room.   That’s the trick, right there.   Stop and look around.  For example, I have team members that are super detail oriented.  I call these team members my “Detailers”.   They thrive on the nitty gritty.  Everything has to be exact and spelled out or they’re not happy.   You know who I’m talking about.  They are the ones that ask all the clarifying questions in a staff meeting.  “What about this?  What about that?”   I also have team members that are really, really good with people.   I call these team members my “Connectors/Cheerleaders”.  They thrive on relationships.  They are masters at selling themselves and selling the company’s brand promise.   They just want everyone to be happy.   Then there are my team members that are techie gurus.  These are my “Digital Ninjas”.   These team members are lethal with their mad skills around all things technology. Learning new applications and promoting themselves and the company on social media comes easy to them.  Give them a computing device, and it’s like handing candy to a baby.


2) Determine what you can or need to delegate.
There are so many things that you can delegate.   In fact, most of what you think you can’t, you can!   Here are a few of the things that I used to do that I now delegate:  Daily bookkeeping journal entries, Bank Account Reconciliations, Payroll, Social Media Marketing, and Recruiting.   That’s just four things right there, and man, I can’t tell you how much time that freed up for me!   Here’s the thing.  Much of what we do, we can train people to do.   But how many times have you said to yourself, “I don’t have time to train someone!  I’ll just do it myself.”    You say this, and two seconds later, you complain about not having enough time to do everything.   How do I know?   Because, that used to be me.   Yes, it does take time to train someone on a new task.   But keep this in mind, all you have to do is train once and then you’re finished.    Well, sorta, but I’ll explain what I mean by that in step 4.


My advice would be to start small.   Pick one thing that you want to delegate and start there.   See how it goes for a month and then maybe add one or two more things.    I would pick a task that recurs frequently that you can easily monitor.   I say frequently because you need to see results quickly to establish the confidence to keep going.


3)  Match team member strengths with the items being delegated.
This is where the magic happens.  For example, let’s say the one thing that you’re going to delegate is ordering inventory.   Remember that team member in step 1 that I described as being detailed oriented?   There’s your guy or gal right there. They are also the ones to handle other detail oriented tasks like payroll, bank reconciliations, journal entries, etc.. What about that team member that’s the ultimate “people person” on your team?   They would probably be a good fit for recruiting.  They’re the ones that you want to send to cosmetology schools to promote the salon or spa.   They thrive in those environments.  What about the team member that has 10,000 followers on Instagram?  You think they might know a thing or two about how to build an online following?    Who knows?  They might be up for the challenge of growing the salon or spa’s online audience.


Another key strategy that I’ve learned to implement is to spread out the number of delegated tasks across a number of different team members instead of loading down one team member with a ton of tasks.   Why?  Well, imagine what would happen if the one person that is in charge of a ton of tasks decides to leave the company.   That would create a lot of work for you to find someone else and then train them on all the tasks you’ve delegated.    Additionally, that one person’s primary responsibility at work probably involves something else anyway.   They could be a guest care coordinator, a manager, or even a stylist or spa therapist.   It’s not fair to bog down any one team member with too much extra responsibility in addition to everything else they’re doing.  For example, in my company, I have one team member doing the bank reconciliations, another team member performing payroll, while someone else is helping me with other things like social media and traditional marketing tasks.


4) Delegate, don’t abdicate!
This is probably the most important step.  This is where we normally fail at delegating.   We delegate tasks and then forget about them.   Then, the story usually goes something like this:  Owner/Manager says, “Suzy was supposed to put the inventory order together on Tuesday and now it’s Friday.   We still haven’t placed an order.  WTH?   I can’t trust anyone to do anything for me around here!  Screw it!  I’ll just do it myself.   I’m the only one that gets stuff done around here anyway.”   And off they go to place the inventory order, now and in the future.


Delegating isn’t about “setting it and forgetting about it”.  It doesn’t mean that we no longer have responsibility for whatever it is that we are delegating.   Ultimately, we are still responsible for everything we do AND delegate.  Delegating is really just leveraging our resources to help us get things done faster.    So, in our inventory ordering example, this would have been a better way to delegate the inventory order.  First,  define your expectations with Suzy by giving her clear instructions for how you want things done.  Then, explain to Suzy that she needs to have the inventory order completed by the end of business on Tuesday, and that she needs to send you a text message notifying you of its completion,  every Tuesday.  Additionally, assign a recurring task for yourself titled, “Suzy To Place Inventory Order Today” with a due date of every Tuesday.  Mark it on your calendar so you remember to check in with Suzy on Tuesday if you haven’t heard from her by the end of business on that day.   Do you see the difference?   Always create a system of checks and balances.    I always create a followup system around everything that I delegate.   For those one-time tasks that I delegate, I create a followup “to-do” in my task management system and set a due date for a few days into the future.     Then my task management system automatically reminds me to followup to make sure the one-time task has been completed.   This will help you keep things from falling through the cracks.


What about you?   What challenges to you currently have when it comes to delegating?   What problems normally come up for you?

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Located in Austin, Texas.

Chris Murphy