Nearly every book about business and every business guru will advise a small business founder or CEO to learn the art of delegation. I was one of the ones who believed that if I didn’t delegate, I would never be able to grow my businesses or personal net worth. Surprisingly, I was let down most of the time by the agents I delegated to. And as usual, I blamed myself and tried to find better ways to delegate.
In the meantime, I was completing the tasks myself, and slowly realized that I was wasting my time and my employees’ time by delegating some of the tasks on my plate. Here’s what I learned.
First things first: Only delegate what’s truly needed.
At first, delegation was mind-boggling to me so I analyzed every detail — the amount of information I gave, to whom I delegated, and if the results were acceptable.
It seemed like more work than to just do the task myself in the first place. Unless you delegate to another professional (i.e. CPA, lawyer, broker, etc.), most of the tasks should probably be completed by you. Now, remember, I am not referring to straightforward tasks like answering calls, emails, ordering supplies and taking out the trash.
I realized that in a small business, you are better off starting with a few capable partners or co-founders to cover all major aspects of the business, or hire professionals with a ton of experience in their field when the budget permits. Keep your business running smoothly by making sure your team is clear about the day-to-day duties. You as well as your employees should be clear on what needs to be done so at the end of the day, everything will flow seamlessly in the same direction. This way you only delegate to someone better than you in the specific department.
Find the best method of delegation for you.
Consider experimenting with different forms of delegation and see what works best for you and your company. At first, I tried to delegate verbally with a detailed explanation of the task. Then, I delegated in writing as I thought the information will stay with the agent and, therefore, be on the same page.
Now, I delegate in a project management software that we use company-wide and set follow-up tasks for myself based on the due date. This has worked the best so far for us.
There are no shortcuts to success and a job well executed.
Many small businesses executives hire office assistants and interns and expect them to deliver on marketing, legal, accounting and other important tasks. However, these assistants tend to follow the task word for word without much consideration for unknown factors. Answering calls, making the schedule, keeping the office well-stocked and other similar tasks may be more comfortable for them because they feel like they own that space.
That’s why my advice is for executives to keep ownership of important tasks, in contrast to what many experts on the subject claim. Here’s what to do, depending on the stage of your company:
- Startups: You should determine your true hourly value. Then multiply that by 1.5 or even 2 if your hourly comes too low.
All the tasks that you will pay someone under your hourly value 2X, you should do it yourself. Any tasks that require such person to deliver it that should make twice as much your hourly, you should delegate it.
- Over $5M in sales: If you are an executive of a small business that is reaching $5 million in sales per year, you should slowly transition to delegating most of the tasks at your hourly value or under.
Hire the right people.
You should only hire people with experience and results in the beginning. In most cases, this will ensure your people will make great progress even when you are not around or when you did not give them an agenda. Also, hiring the right people will save you time in the follow-up process and/or if your intervention is needed.
You will find this advice hard to digest as an entrepreneur or founder, but if you want to be successful, in my opinion, you either have the capital to hire the right people, or you partner with the right people and work hard.