Updated: Jul 7
How is your workload these days?
If the pandemic forced you back into the weeds of your business, you are not alone. Many owners have found themselves doing tasks they haven't done in years. Being back in the middle of things isn't healthy for you nor your business long term. Personally, it’s a recipe for burnout, and professionally, your business will be less valuable with you doing all the work.
So, how can you get out from underneath some of these tasks and back to those that you truly enjoy? All you have to do is delegate. But, let’s be frank… most business owners by-and-large are terrible delegators. They say, “just go do it” without providing instruction. It is one of the Achilles heels of an entrepreneur. However, becoming good at delegating will help get you out of the trenches and back into your sweet spot. This holds true for executive managers as well!
How can you get better at delegating?
Start by making a list of what you love to do and want to do. These are “above the line” activities that create or add value to your organization. When you are doing these things, you are working within your ‘genius’.
Once you're done, make a list of activities that fall “below the line.” These include those things you've been forced back into doing that you do not enjoy or that create dependency on you and your time.
Once you have identified what falls below the line, break activities up into discrete parts. The secret to delegating is not to delegate everything hook, line, and sinker. Determine who can handle what and at what level of autonomy.
The following 4 Stages of Delegation are essentially increasing levels of autonomy. As you move up a stage, you are giving the employee being delegated to more and more decision-making discretion.
Stage 1: Follow My Lead
You're telling the employee, "I trust you to follow my instructions." Instruct them to ask questions about the process and allow them to provide suggestions for how to make it better.
This step is typically accompanied by training materials… video, instruction manual, S.O.P. What can you provide to ensure they have everything they need?
Stage 2: Research & Report
You're telling them, "I trust you to think like an owner." Have them research some options for completing the task. Outline which options they considered, the pros and cons to each, and which option they would choose if they were the owner of the business.
There is no set of rules to follow in this stage. The employee does some research and evaluation then comes back with a report and recommendation. The decision-making still sits with the owner (or the “delegator”).
Stage 3: Do It & Report
You're saying, "I trust you to do what you think is right." Even though that trust is there, let them know you still want to be kept in the loop with regular updates on their progress.
The responsibilities here are similar to Stage 2. However, the employee has decision-making responsibility while giving regular updates/reports.
Stage 4: Do It
You are confident in stating, "I trust you to take this task off my plate." Let them run with it to the best of their ability. There’s no need to check back with you unless they have questions or need your input. The cord is cut.
It is natural for a leader to step in during a crisis, but it isn't sustainable for the long term. Get good at delegating and get your life back. When you pull yourself out of the doing, you will build a valuable company for the long term - one that is a lot less stressful to run along the way.
How Your Team Can Help You De-Stress
Company owners are often overwhelmed. They've got so much on their plates and are unsure of how to balance it all. Dick Noble, President of Summit 360, talks about how learning to optimize his employees' talents helped alleviate some of his workload and make a big impact on the company.