Business challenge: delegation (part 2)

delegating

By Jamie Migdal, CEO of FetchFind

In part 1 of Business Challenge: Delegation, I talked about how an inability to delegate can hurt your growth and bottom line, as well as how finding the right person for the job is the first step in letting go.

Now comes the hard part – actually prying your fingers loose from the reins and letting someone else do some of the work. If you’re a micromanaging control freak (a common personality trait amongst small biz owners, as I well know from my own experience with myself), this is the part that can actually, physically hurt to do.

My advice: baby steps.

The easiest way to get into the habit of delegation is to start small – ask someone to draft an email response, schedule a meeting, or post a few things on social media. Think of a handful of low-risk tasks to assign to one or two people in the company, and start parcelling them out. (By “low risk” I mean if something goes awry, it’s not going to cost money to fix or result in you spending hours you don’t have apologizing for the error.)

If that goes well, do it again, and then gradually add on a few other responsibilities until the entire task is being accurately managed by the other person, from start to finish. In dog training parlance, this is known as behavior chaining. (Any dog trainer will tell you that most things in life can be improved by using those trainer skills.)

I want to point out that none of this is to be presented as an indictment of your employee’s abilities or intelligence, but rather as a way for you, the business owner, to get comfortable with  relinquishing control and have space to internalize the fact that the world isn’t going to end when you delegate some of your work.

If this seems too overwhelming to implement on your own, my other advice is to find a good business coach. A coach can be invaluable at all stages of business development, and you should always have a dispassionate, objective adviser who knows you and your story. Business coaches aren’t cheap, but you have to look at it from a big picture, cost/benefit perspective – they aren’t cheap, but they are a lot less expensive than losing growth opportunities or client confidence.

 

Business challenge: delegation (part 1)

jamie-1

By Jamie Migdal, CEO of FetchFind

During a podcast recording with a dog trainer and small business owner last week, we talked a little bit about how hard it is to let someone else handle some of the daily tasks of running a company, even when you know that delegation will help spur growth and keep you focused on doing the things that you really love.

Part of the problem with becoming comfortable with delegation is that, as a small business owner, it’s YOUR name and reputation on the line if one of your employees goes off script. Even if you can honestly say to a client “XYZ incident wasn’t MY fault,” you will still lose their confidence because YOU are the one who chose a poor representative. No matter what you do as a small biz owner, everything ultimately redounds upon you – credits as well as debits.

(BTW, you should never throw an employee under the bus during damage control. You’ll still lose client confidence over the incident in question, and your client will see also you as someone who can’t be trusted on any level. It’s also terrible for staff morale. There is no upside in that scenario.)

Delegation is a two piece puzzle:

1) Identifying trustworthy people, and

2) Learning to let go.

The first thing you have to do before you can begin delegating is find the right people. If you have the luxury of time, use it to watch your current employees’ performance and capacity for good decision making. It’s a trite but true saying that cream always rises to the top. Watch to see who steps up to the plate when it matters, and who makes consistently good choices.

If you’re in a crunch scenario and have to hire someone to be in a position of responsibility, make sure you call their references and ask every question you can legally ask about past performance. Don’t fall for slick interview patter!  If their resume shows a history of increasing responsibility over time, it’s usually a good sign. Once the person is in place at your company, put more weight on what they actually do rather than what they say they’re going to do. And don’t be slow to remove them if they don’t demonstrate the capacity to do the work. (As I always say – hire slow, fire fast.)

The next post will focus on the really hard part – letting go.