If you want something doing, do it yourself, right?
Here’s a surefire way of halting your business growth and propelling yourself into a stress vortex — try to do everything yourself.
Delegation is a painful but necessary skill to master — and if you want to be a great leader or achieve business success, you’re going to have to damn well master it.
I’ll be honest; delegation didn’t come naturally to me, and trust me, I have learned the hard way.
I’m guilty of thinking “it’ll be faster, easier and better if I just do it myself”, aren’t we all? We all want to get things done now in the easiest and most painless way possible and we believe that doing it all ourselves is the answer.
Well, I tried it that way, it was an absolute fail. Here’s hoping you might learn from my mistakes and bring people on board early enough so as not to lose any momentum whilst you’re working hard to build a successful business.
So, here’s how it is. When you’re first starting out, you have to wear all the hats. You’re a team of one having to be a team of eight — management, the product development/service creator, the sales executive, the PR executive, customer services, digital marketer, the caretaker and all things in between. You’re working 16 hours a day to build an exceptional business and its working, it’s exciting, and it should be!
It’s now time to put a strategy together so you can begin to expand even further, but you can’t.
Or you might want to take a few days off, but you can’t.
Because guess what? It’s just you. So, the phone needs answering and emails need sending and products need shipping and social media needs posting and…and, and…you get the picture.
At this point you’ll have recognised you need more bodies, but how do you know you’ll get the right person? What if the person who comes on board screws up your hard work? Well, you don’t and they might. But, there are measures you can put in place to ensure your new team members are knowledgeable, confident and on the same page as you, so you can loosen the reins and start working on the business rather than in the business. Or, you could just take a week off. (*daydreams*)
Still not convinced? Start small. Delegate a single task somewhere and see how easy it can be for someone else to alleviate the strain. Then work up towards larger tasks, slowly building trust in your new teammates.
Delegation part 1: down
Decide what you can delegate downwards — these are often general administrative tasks where your time isn’t being used well by doing them (think bookkeeping, mail shots, transcriptions, picking and packing, call answering, outbound sales). You can hire someone full time, part time or even virtually to do these things for you — they don’t have to be sat at a desk outside your office anymore, they can be anywhere in the world so long as they have access to a laptop, telephone and a decent internet connection.
Delegation part 2: up
Next; decide what you can delegate upwards — these are the specialist skills, maybe accounting, legal work, marketing, graphic design or public relations. Here you’re looking for people who are experienced and knowledgeable, so rather than you spending the next 10 days learning how to file a confirmation statement, you can have an accountant do it for you within the hour. Specialists are expensive, but they’ll get things done quickly and for the most part, to a higher standard than you could have done them. In the long run, you’ll save money and benefit from their experience in their field. More importantly, you’ll have more time to build a bigger and better business whilst they do what they do best.
Delegation part 3: briefing
Be detailed in your instructions — give them all the information they need (think of them as complete beginners, even if they’re not). Explain what the task is and why you’ve chosen them to do it. Ask them if they foresee any challenges with carrying out the task. Make sure there’s a clear deadline and clear deliverables. Talk about progress reports and agree on how monitoring will happen. Ask if there are any questions about what’s required, if they answer with “nope, no questions” ask then to repeat back to you exactly what the task is so you can be sure they have a clear vision of what needs doing and there’s little room for misunderstanding.
Make sure everyone understands the purpose of the task you’re delegating and how it fits into the bigger picture, that being your mission, vision and values (if you don’t have them, write them!). The mission, vision, values and purpose will act as guidelines, which then allows you to push your team members out of their comfort zones to encourage a higher level of creativity, leadership and overall achievement.
Empower them to do the job — make sure you define the decision-making process — when can your team member make a decision and when does it need to be escalated to you? It’s important that you’re very clear on this. Then, trust them to do it right and if there are any issues, to come to you if need be. Allow them to make the decisions you’ve agreed upon so that they can work independently, and remember if they make a mistake, it’s not the end of the world.
Stop striving for perfection — it doesn’t need to be perfect, it doesn’t need to be exactly how you would do it, it just needs to work — if you’re expecting perfection, it’s unlikely that anyone you hire will ever be able to live up to that. What’s more, you run the risk of making your team member feel like a failure and becoming demotivated because they aren’t able to reach your unreasonably high standards.
I often reference Apple in my blogs, and in life, firstly because they’re easy to reference (you know who they are) and secondly because they always seem relevant. Apple are constantly updating and changing their IOS platform which provides a base for many of their products. If they waited until it was perfect to launch they’d still be in a garage. I repeat, it doesn’t need to be perfect, it just needs to work.
Think about the long-term — train your people with a view to them working with you in the long term. If they’re committed to the amount of money you’ve specified as payment for the project, you’ll more than likely get a half-arsed result. If they become committed to you, they’ll give you their best, usually with a lot of enthusiasm and diligence. You can gain that commitment from them by giving them the skills and support they need to do the best work they can. They may not stay with you for huge amounts of time but the more time you invest in upskilling, teaching and giving constructive feedback to your team, the better the results in the long term, for you and them.
Let. It. Go. — the biggest (and possibly, most annoying) Disney song ever, but also sound business advice. Don’t micro-manage. Don’t call your team every hour on the hour to just “check in” or “find out how you’re getting on”, set a checkpoint (maybe at the end of the day, maybe at the end of the week) and stick to it. Just trust in your own ability to bring great people on board as it’s now out of your hands. Don’t interfere in the process, you’ll halt the progress. The best managers know how to get things done effectively through other people. There may be some parts of your business operations that you enjoy doing, but this still doesn’t mean you should be doing them all. The idea is to remove yourself as much as possible from the everyday processes so you can focus on leading.
Say thank you — self-explanatory this one. It goes a long way.
Has expanding your team given you The Fear? How did you overcome it and what management advice would you give? Let me know in the comments, on Instagram, Twitter or Facebook @KymberleeJay.