I’ve had lots of clients tell me they really struggle with delegating things to their team. They just don’t trust them to do things right. Their rationale is that it is easier and quicker half the time if they do it themselves. Then they ask me to suggest how to fix it.
First of all, this is one of the most common management problems for people running their own business. I think the reason for that is because most people start off in their business doing the technician work (the day-to-day delivery of the service or product) and it’s only as the business starts to grow that they’re forced up into managing more people.
You’re so used to being hands-on – it’s how you do things. Your personal standards are important parts of how you believe your business should run. So as a result, it’s got to be done your way. There’s no problem with that, but the million-dollar question is how to get them to do it your way when you’re not there?
The key to delegating is to have trustworthy people to do the work and being willing to trust. So there are a bunch of things that you can do to help
Set clear service delivery expectations
Whether it’s procedures and systems explaining how the job should be done or standards that say, ‘at the end of the day it’ll look like this. Get them out of your head and onto a page. Then it’s clear to others and truly a standard that they can now be honestly held against.
Clearly express why this is important
It’s not enough to assume that everyone thinks like you. Someone may think that not doing a particular thing is no big deal, but if it causes mayhem for the rest of your team then it’s a different matter. Be explicit as to why these steps are important and what the impact of doing them wrong is.
You need some form of measurement and checking. Set up a process to randomly audit a certain amount of tasks per week. When you find an issue, bring your team back to the task. Find out why it wasn’t done to standard and get them to fix the problem. Make them rework their own mistakes, don’t take responsibility for them yourself. Repeat until they actually get the message.
Create a feedback loop
Have a feedback process to recognize when people are doing it right and also bring up points of improvement when they’re not. Create incentives to reward those people doing it right. Make the results of doing good work stand out to everyone in the team.
Find people based on attitude rather than skill. If you find people with a willingness to learn and improve, then you are a winner. Don’t get stuck with people that may have high skills but will do it however they want to. Get people to play by your rules.
Let go – take a chill pill, create a weekly meeting to review progress. Give your team time to make good of it. Resist your natural urge to jump in and assume control every time.
The longer you try to control everything with your own two hands, the longer you are condemned to keep doing it. Realize your controlling ways. Set yourself up to manage through others and watch your life get simpler.
Steve Smit is a business coach and the founder of Reality Consulting