By AMBER ROY
There is one woman who truly helped me take delegation to the next level in my business, and her name is Laura Bechard. She was my life saver and business advisor during one of the most transformational years of my Entrepreneurial career. I was rapidly burning out and losing control of my business, and together we built and automated systems that turned my “monster” of a business into a well oiled machine.
Once I learned what I needed to delegate – I was a delegating machine! For a period of time, it was magical! I was delegating tasks to the team, and finally had some free time to focus on my personal life. But then everything started backfiring… None of the tasks I delegated to my team were getting done the way I wanted them to be done, or in the time frame I wanted them to be completed. In no time at all, I found myself fixing the “mistakes” of my team, and my frustration and irritation levels were at an all time high. I had to sacrifice my personal life once again, and I was back at square one.
WHY THE HELL WAS I PAYING THEM TO PERFORM THESE TASKS, ONLY TO RE-DO THEIR JOBS FOR THEM?!
One extremely important lesson Laura taught me while we worked on automating my business: “Delegation does not equal abdication.” So, I thought I’d bring in the expert herself to talk about how you can avoid one of the most costly mistakes I made while learning How to Delegate; abdication.
Thank you, Amber! Well, as you and I both know from experience – it certainly wasn’t the employees’ fault! Recruitment, on-boarding and employee development are certainly considerations that we should take in account. In addition to these considerations we also need to ask ourselves as business owners:
Do our team members know how we want the task completed?
What is their definition of “done” vs our definition of “done”?
I remember when I first started giving chores to my kids – they definitely didn’t “clean up their rooms” to the standard I expected right away. And if I’m being honest, my adult children most likely still wouldn’t define “clean room” the same way that I do.
It might be their attitude or motivation, but it is just as likely that there are some improvements that you could make to your systems and people development processes that will help you achieve a better result. Like Amber, there’s a very good chance you might have fallen into the “delegation by abdication” trap.
There are so many business owners that (unbeknownst to them) fall into this trap after hiring their first employee, or contractor. In the beginning, it’s normal to feel excited – finally free of the tasks you either disliked or lacked the expertise to properly perform. You hand over the task and it gets done, right? You’ve just managed by abdication rather than delegation.
Take a moment now and reflect on an area in your business that you’ve “delegated”, but find yourself constantly fixing problems or putting out fires related to the task in question. Now, take a moment to review the following checklist to identify areas where your delegation practices could improve:
- Your staff had formal training or expertise in the area or task that was delegated.
- You have a Standard Operating Procedure in place to explain how to complete the task.
- You have examples, videos and other necessary support materials for them to follow.
- You completed the task together until the employee was confident that they could perform it by themselves.
- You had clear Standards of Performance so the employee knew what “good enough” looked like when compared to an all-star performance.
- You checked in regularly when the team member started to perform solo.
- You gave feedback on performance frequently and early during the early stages of delegation.
- You trained staff to be able to meet or exceed the performance standard.
- You recruited individuals who could follow instructions and take ownership of their actions.
- You verified they had the expertise and competency before hiring them.
- You provided positive feedback during the learning stage.
- You provided constructive feedback to catch performance errors before they became habits.
- You taught your team about accountability and ownership
Delegation is a critical skill if you are planning to scale up your business. You cannot do everything and grow. I wanted to give you 4 Simple Steps Before Delegating Your Next Task:
- Document the correct way to perform this task. Step-by-step, including Quality Control Standards every step of the way.
- Clearly specify the expected result. Remember the classic – who, what, when, where, why and how!
- Have someone follow your steps, review and then make necessary adjustments. This will allow you an opportunity to address all confusion and fill the gaps. You don’t want to micro-manage, but make sure you are kept in the loop for performance purposes.
- Add the Task to Your Operations Manual! Once you are satisfied with the above documented tasks and processes, give it to the team member you want to delegate the task to, train them on the system and then add it to your Operations Manual.
Abdication can be dangerous for your business, your customers and your team. When you delegate, you are asking someone else to step in for you and thus, you remain accountable for the results. If you have selected the wrong person, that’s on you. If you don’t train and develop the person so they can more effectively and efficiently step in for you, guess what? That’s also on you.
So, the next time you want to play the “blame game”, think again! You are ultimately the one who is responsible.
The CTRL Lab helps small business owners create systems and business practices that automate operations to give them a more sustainable work / life balance.