Thursday, January 31, 2013

Why You Stink at Delegating, And How to Fix it


photo credit: woodleywonderworks via photopin cc
Entrepreneurs love to be in control, which is what makes the draw of entrepreneurship so enticing. Left unchecked however, this insatiable need for control can destroy a young business. Success requires an ability to scale, and scale requires delegating and relinquishing control to others. Those who insist on controlling everything are better off as  dictators than business owners.


The inner control freak of many entrepreneurs prevents them from fully embracing the importance of delegating. This leads to a sort of "pseudo" form of delegating where they assemble a team but then micromanages them to death.

Competent, confident professionals abhor being micromanaged. They will either confront you about your poor management style or leave. The weaker, less confident workers will soldier on in quiet desperation while dreading the very thought of working with you. This is no way to grow a business.

If you are serious about growing a sustainable business, following are practical steps for mastering the art of delegating.

1. Choose the Best-Qualified Person

How do you know you have the best person for the job? He or she understands the details of the task better than you. For example, you may understand the inner workings of your finances, but the person you select to manage your books should know the business of bookkeeping better than you. Keep looking if this is not the case.

2. Provide the Right Tools and Resources

Professionals understand the tools of their trade, so do not tell them what they need. Ask! If you already invested in systems and tools, find someone skilled in those areas. You should not be spending your days teaching your assistant Microsoft Excel.

3. Document Your Expectations

Documentation beats conversation folks. To avoid future "but I thought you said" episodes, write down what you expect of them and make sure there is mutual understanding between the both of you.

4. Establish Metrics

You cannot manage what you cannot measure. Therefore, put in place a system for you and your team to track progress both short and long term.

5. Request Regular Status Updates

In the simplest form, an update can be a weekly email but can also include project plan notes, conference calls or virtual meetings.

6. Get out of the way!

Once the right people have the needed resources and a clear course of action, just get out of the way and let them to do their jobs. Your responsibility is to monitor and support, not tell them how to do their work. If you spend your days explaining how, either go back to step number 1 or check your inner control freak.

What About Meeting Face to Face?

In today's world of virtual meeting places and social media, the necessity for in person meetings has diminished. Collaborative teams who have never met in person have sprung up all over the Internet.

Take SteamFeed.com for example, a collection of entrepreneurs, social media mavericks and marketers assembled by founders Daniel Hebert and DJ Thistle. Most of us have only met online, but we strategize and communicate via virtual meetings, email and social media. Nothing is lost by not having ever met. In fact, leveraging technology helps us balance our commitment to SteamFeed along with our myriad of other responsibilities.

If meeting face-to-face is still necessary, respect everyone's time by distributing an agenda and adhering to pre-determined start and end times. Conclude with a set of action items and detailed minutes recorded and distributed to the attendees.

Learning to delegate takes maturity, patience, confidence and self-control. If you believe you can do it all or insist on being a dictator, your days are numbered like the many dictators who came before you.

Godspeed and I look forward to seeing you in The Players Lounge.

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