Delegating is not about ordering your employees to do something. Think empowering. One of the most important reasons employees remain with their company is because they have been given responsibility. You can think of this as the ability to make decisions AND to make mistakes. We tend to learn more from our mistakes than our successes.
One of the most difficult things for an entrepreneur to do is to offload some of the things they are doing to one or more of their direct reports. This is particularly true if they launched their business from their garage or, in the case of many tech start-ups, from their dorm room.
You can see where this may be hard for the founder since they know every task there is to know about the business, have probably done it themselves, and in virtually all cases feel they can do it better and faster than anyone they hire.
But holding on only holds back the growth of a company. So what is the best way to hand off some of your responsibilities?
First make a list of the things you feel you shouldn’t be doing and, especially those that you do not enjoy. Brainstorm, that is just make a list without thinking about any order. You can prioritize later. Not sure where to start? Pull in your executive assistant and/or your executive team and ask the question “What tasks should I get rid of so I can make better use of my time leading our company?” You will be amazed what will be suggested, especially if you have created a culture within your company of trust and transparency.
Now that you have that list who does what? I have found that with the CEOs I have coached often one or more people in the meeting will volunteer to take on something. That reduces the list. What about the rest? Is there someone in the company that the team feels would be a good fit? Do you need to recruit?
Here is the scary part. You have done these tasks for so long you are going to want to know if they are being done like you did them. Give up on that idea! It will never happen. No one will do it the way you did. And they may surprise you and figure out a way to do it quicker and more efficiently.
Now you have direct reports. In order to feel comfortable with your delegating schedule monthly one-to-ones with each of them for 30-60 minutes. Allow them to give an update. Doing it in-person will allow you to ask questions to improve your comfort level.
Eventually you will not need this in-depth of a discussion, although I encourage you to maintain your one-to-ones with them. Now create a monthly dashboard for yourself made up of the numbers you want from each direct report so you can stay on top of your company’s progress.
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