Get a delegation jab to combat dead-end solopreneurship
“If you want a thing done well, do it yourself”… Isn’t it that platitude which makes you work long hours, ruining your health and turning you into a victim of job burnout? Gets in the way of your family life and social connections? Makes you feel Mondayish all week long? And eventually, bottlenecks your progress? ‘Delegation’, this scaremongering word… It’s hard to imagine how many business owners have deep-sixed their companies being at loggerheads with themselves over delegating responsibilities to their subordinates.
If it’s all about you, and you‘ve decided to exercise overall control and take nothing but personal responsibility for your business, monitoring almost every trifle, – then accept our congrats: you are simply marking time!
Feel like getting to know what is going to happen next? Nothing much, except that your company may very well never go beyond the initial startup phase… Being dependent solely on its lead in all of its aspects, the business is doomed once the lead is away. What’s more, the company will never cherish the opportunity of evolvement, as all the vigor and time of the lead are being directed into making sure the company does not fall below its current state.
A ‘rosy’ prospect indeed, don’t you think?
Bet you haven’t pampered your business-baby just to bury it under the unsubstantiated belief in your personal indispensability. This is where delegation comes into play. No doubt, you are prone to resisting. And if you really are, it’s high time you understood the underlying reasons for your resistance as generally, there are three most common reasons why leads fail to pass on work to employees:
lack of resources to hire extra specialists on board
Seems to be the most intelligible reason. It’s not rare for small business owners to fall short of human resources or, in other words, people who they could delegate to. Under these circumstances, one person is usually doing work that should be handled by two or even more. And everything seems to be running sort of well to some extent but… the company stays on the brink of survival.
A psychological reason to avoid delegation
Being directly related to perfectionism, lack of trust in whosoever subordinates you, and very often lack of self-confidence (yeah, exactly), this excuse proves to be the hardest one to withstand. Some owners believe that doing work themselves is easier and faster, for you don’t have to resort to time-consuming explanations. Others dread being excelled by those inferior. The very thought that no one could do better than you do or, the other way round, someone CAN do better is really a huge hurdle to overcome. Feel the urgency to combat this thought, otherwise it is going to be a dead-end road.
Finally, you simply don’t know HOW to delegate.
Having failed in delegating an assignment once – the work was bungled or deadline exceeded – you feel discouraged to entrust whosoever with whatsoever.
While resources shortage can be addressed with mere outsourcing – saving you the cost of a full-time employee – the last two reasons/points/.. call for a more comprehensive approach. If these are your reality and you’ve finally come to realize it, it’s time to break the boundaries of your Jack-of-all-trade mindset and shift it to Master-of-few one.
Now that you’ve understood [and we hope you have] the urgency of handing over tasks to other people, it comes out essential to define who to delegate to and how to build a trustworthy dream team to get things moving, thus providing a competitive edge for your company. Following are the tips to help you on your journey:
The issue of recruiting arises when there is a need to fill a skill gap. Your paramount task is to clearly identify two things: what sort of work you need to pass on and what sort of person would be best suited for the responsibilities related to this work. To ease searching, create figurative characteristics, such as ‘a corky accountant’, ‘a manager-cheerleader’, or ‘a creative bore’. Whatever criteria you may use while selecting a new employee – commitment, compatibility, character, etc. [all up to you] – there is only one category your potential employee should unconditionally fall under, and this is competence. Make sure the would-be delegatee has necessary skills and experience to successfully perform the tasks you need completed. Seek, and you shall find.
Learn the art of letting go
Successful delegation has much bearing on trust in your subordinates. And once you’ve finally managed to select those employees suitable to perform certain duties, it’s high time you learnt to let go of responsibilities and stop being a control freak. Easier said than done, huh? But in the long run it’s going to kill two birds with one stone. On the one hand, you’ll master the art of trusting to the utmost. On the other – this will benefit your employees to death, and eventually this will benefit you. Probing deeper into work will enable your subordinates to evolve professionally, increase their competence and will surely teach them responsibility, thus making you free to focus on high-leverage strategic tasks. If you are scared to begin with delegating big responsibilities, start small then. For example, pass on writing a blog post instead of curating the whole blog.
Once you’ve delegated something, don’t walk away from this task yet (although your excessive concern won’t let you do it anyway). Do your best to keep it balanced: do not allow hands-off management style to enter the scene and, at the same time, avoid micromanaging and calling the shots. Your job is to observe and remain collaborative to ensure all goes well. All in all, bother to find the happy mean and don’t go to extremes. Stay engaged, bear accountability for assignments and evaluate the performance. Don’t take back the tasks you delegated to them once they feel it hard to complete them – let your subordinates feel it to be a sort of challenge and hold utter responsibility for task fulfillment.
A good option might be to hold a 5-minute briefing in the morning – enough time to identify all the ups and downs of the current assignments and give your feedback. Lend your helping hand once your delegatees have failed to manage tasks by themselves. Be free from giving a dressing-down in case of missing a deadline. Give all the chances to improve. Do not stint your praise if they are doing well. In short, make your subordinates be aware that you are a team player as well.
Now that you’ve chosen the right employees, mastered the art of letting go and all seems mighty fine, go ahead and create a most productive atmosphere and make the most of it. Hold severity and imperative mode at bay – they are foe to creativity. Keep the atmosphere relaxed and natural. You’ve got a great scope for improvisation – speak in jests, fool around , take pokes and play pranks on your employees and let them do it in return – in a word, establish rapport and do whatever relieves the tension and kills the routine.
Head, chief, commander, boss…– whoever you may consider yourself deep inside, don’t display your superiority over your subordinates. If you want your employees to look up to you – treat them as equals. All those rap-on-the-knuckles manners have the reverse effect – they simply impede the progress. Shift your “superiority vocabulary”, and fill it with more favorable words like “team”, “colleagues” and “guys”. To generate the feeling of equality, see about equal access to whatever data – be it giving information on partners and contractors, business rates (whatever those are) or outlining business objectives. Do remember, it’s responsibility you are holding that turns you into a real boss, but not the mere notion of it.
He is lifeless that is faultless. If your subordinates don’t slip up, there are only two options: either you don’t bother to use your employee’s potential to the utmost, or they deliberately set easy goals and take on risk-free projects. Hence, they stumble on their way to development. The only way out: let your subordinates learn from errors and figure out by themselves how to correct them. Stay away from being hard on your employees, do not face them down or ice out for mistakes. Instead of scathing reviews, give them a constructive helpful feedback – they will eagerly spot errors by themselves in the course of the convo.
Devoting 15 minutes a day to reflection won’t bother you much, but will certainly do you and your subordinates a lot of good. Flashbacks to the past and handling mistakes prove to be perfect preventive measures. Be sure, the payoff will be great: this might help the employee to take over your experience and make the relations between you far stronger. In case failures take place on a regular basis, proceed to the next point.
Do not hesitate to save your business-ship from the dead weight – idlers, goofs, gossipmongers, and simply blase people will sink it in the twinkle of an eye. There is no place for them on board a dream team. Don’t squander your time – these traits are hard to beat out. If we haven’t brought it home to you so far that these blockheads are first to get rid of – bustle up to read a bestseller The No Asshole Rule: Building a Civilized Workplace and Surviving One That Isn’t.
Many young leads are prone to shifting responsibility to their subordinates, which carries a suggestion of weak character. Rather silly of such leads to await respect and acknowledgement herewith. Considering yourself a Big Boss, be brave enough to show accountability for flops and failures that might take place through your fault as well (the wrong goal setting or the wrong man you delegate to). If your subordinate fails to make proper arrangements with a contractor and gets a defective consignment of goods, do not take out anger on them: it’s your responsibility and your business.
Having been in business for as long as 5 years, we’ve seen a lot of small business owners who turned into irritable workaholics and finally fizzled out. A far-reaching beginning made a bad ending. If you feel reluctant to move their way, do stop being the only go-to experts. Working your ass off won’t do you a good turn. Take a step back and do trust the team you are building. Feel totally free to cede low-leverage responsibilities to your subordinates – operation tasks are the ones they ARE ABLE to handle. Focusing on high-leverage activities alone is sure to give you space for working on business, not just in it. Learning to assign responsibilities and letting go of them will play right into your hand while building your dream team. Take our word for it – we are the ones who ARE in the know.