How am I supposed to do all these things… delegate… empower… avoid the temptation to dive back in when Rome is burning? Seriously? Our on-time delivery is not on time and it’s getting worse by the day. We’re producing buckets of scrap really fast. The head count in my Quality Department is soaring – we are becoming the State of Connecticut’s most prolific job creator, for all the wrong reasons. (I don’t think this is what the politicians mean by ‘job creation’.) These problems are killing our margins. And the sad thing is, we have several prospective customers we could go after. But, I am afraid if we take on more work right now, it’ll put us under.
Feeling uncomfortably familiar? You’re at a critical juncture. I’ve worked with and worked for companies who have succeeded and failed at this stage in the lifecycle. I’ll try to explain the key reason for failure.
Know When to Micromanage.
You have to decide what’s catastrophic for your business. If the work is not getting done, if your customers are complaining, if the people working for you can’t figure out how to fix the problems, “intervening” (the polite word for ‘micromanaging’) is necessary.
If you find you have to micromanage all the time; you are going to struggle to keep your business on solid footing. Growing your business might even kill it… and you.
How to Avoid this Failure? Know When and How to Delegate.
Regarding how and when to delegate, one of the best, most practical resources I know of is a book written by Laurie L. Taylor. In her book, The Art of Delegation: How to Effectively Let Go to Grow, there’s a magic number. It’s 20. When you hire your 20th employee, your company becomes too big for any one person to continue ‘wearing all the hats’. You’re being spread too thin. It’s time to start ‘passing those hats’ around. It’s time to start delegating. But here’s the catch. You have to be able to delegate to people who will actually be able to do the work and do it well.Do you have the right people in place, so you can delegate? If so, great. If not, and they are long-time loyal friends and in-laws… What to do?
This is a lot for any human/humane CEO to deal with. It’s also the point in time with the highest rate of CEO-burnout. Suddenly you go from ‘running the show’ to managing, delegating, teaching, coaching and building your team of supervisors and go-to people. And, you have to make decisions, not about a broken widget or process that’s not working, but about individuals with names and families you know and care about.
Manage Your Expectations and Mindset.
“I don’t have time to delegate. It’s easier to just do it myself.” “When I delegate to Joe, I end up having to redo it. He doesn’t do it the way I want it done.” “I shouldn’t have to teach them. They should just know how to do it.” “Why am I the only one who cares… the only person who takes the initiative?”
Delegating means you are transitioning your company from a CEO-centric organization to an Enterprise-centric company. It’s not about you getting results as much as your ability to get results through other people. If you’re not able or willing to do this, keep your company small or find someone who can step in and develop your team.
Six Secrets of Successful Delegation.
Delegation is not always as simple as handing down a project with the instructions to “have it finished by Monday”. That’s called dumping. Use these secrets to improve your delegation success.
1. Know your employees.
Choose the right person for the job. Do they have enough capacity to take on additional work? Do they have the necessary skills? Can they do the work independently or will they need guidance or access to additional resources? Resources may include training, time, equipment, supplies, space and additional manpower.
2. Establish objectives and provide training, as needed.
Don’t assume that an employee will ‘just know how to do it the way you want it done.’ Give your employees direction by letting them know precisely what is expected and what their role is in the process. What kind of training will the person need, if any? Given this, employees will work more independently.
3. Provide a deadline.
Deadlines should be given for any delegated work. Be specific and realistic when establishing deadlines. Without deadlines, employees will not feel responsible for accomplishing the task. Projects with a deadline are considered more important.
4. Develop a method of reporting. Be sure to follow-up.
Decide the best way for the employee to report progress back to you (meeting, e-mail, entry in your project management system) and the time line (weekly, monthly, daily). It is important that each employee know what information you want.
Never assign a project and forget about it until the deadline. Always communicate with your employees and don’t forget to listen. Check in periodically to ensure the project is headed in the right direction.
5. Automate the tracking of delegated projects.
Your employees need to know that you have not forgotten about what you have asked them to do. At the same time, you can’t spend all you time tracking their progress. Consider using a Project Management APP for tracking projects and critical tasks. There are a lot of great, inexpensive APPS available today. Do your research.
6. Review and recognize.
As individuals assume more responsibility for completing delegated tasks, projects and goals, be sure to recognize and celebrate successes. Demonstrate to your team how their work has affected the company. Share lessons learned and discuss any challenges encountered so that delegation practices improve over time.
In Closing, Grow Your Business Smartly.
Being able to let go and successfully delegate is one of the most crucial skills a CEO must have in order to grow his/her small business. If the things described in this article are issues you are experiencing, please feel free to reach out for a complimentary and confidential half-hour consultation. The best way to reach me is by email (BTW, I read all my emails): Pam@BusinessSuccessTools.Biz.