Ready, Set, Delegate!

Letting Go

Follow these steps and, odds are, your delegation skills will improve dramatically. There's one more huge hurdle to jump, however. That occurs when employees start doing the work you've delegated, but they're not doing it the way you would have done it. "This is a major issue for entrepreneurs," says Dailey. "It's painful for them to accept that there are other ways to get jobs done and that oftentimes, the way the employee did the task is good enough."

But what if it isn't good enough? That can happen, as Leveen knows. "When I look at a job somebody else did and think that's not how I would have done it, it's tough," he admits. "When it honestly isn't good enough, I give honest feedback. For instance, my forte is writing copy about our products. We have two copywriters on staff, and sometimes they'll write things I don't think are very good. I tell them why I think that, but I also tell them when I think what they write is great. And they're thick-skinned enough to hear all of what I'm saying."

Ready to plunge into delegation? "Start small," urges Dailey. "Begin with less critical jobs. Over time, your confidence in your people will grow, and so will their confidence in themselves. Keep at it, and you won't have to keep working 16-hour days seven days a week. You'll have more time to put into the more critical tasks. And your business will likely grow much faster. Delegation really is the way to succeed."

Besides, adds Leveen, "I truly believe there are people who can do every job we need done in this company better than I can. My real job as president is to find those people, develop them, and then let them do their jobs."

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This article was originally published in the July 1998 print edition of Entrepreneur with the headline: Ready, Set, Delegate!.

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