4 Keys to Mastering the Art of Delegation
As the old adage goes: "Do less and accomplish more; do nothing and accomplish everything." When running a business, the perpetual, though eternally unattainable goal, is to make yourself dispensable. All too often, business owners feel that if they are not actively engaged or at least available for their business 24/7, the business will fall apart. It's as if they have a bull by the tail and simply cannot let go for one second. This is a formula for disaster.
The more you can free yourself from this sort of bondage, the better. If you keep the following four simple guidelines in mind, it will not only help you with that objective, but it will also enable the business to grow, thrive and prosper.
1. Get past the "I'll do it myself" syndrome.
Interestingly enough, many business owners just can't seem to let go, feeling they have to do everything themselves. As a result, they become so bogged down and stressed by their daily tasks that, sooner or later, they break down emotionally, psychology or physically. They do this for a couple of different reasons.
First, they feel that if they want something done right, they have to do it themselves. This feeling is ingrained in them to the point that they can't move past it. As the business expands, this becomes an obvious formula for disaster.
The other reason they can't delegate responsibilities is a little more subtle, but it boils down to a feeling that it's not right to ask other people to do things for them. They feel it's inappropriate or an imposition. It's as if they wouldn't be standing on their own two feet, but instead would be taking advantage of another person. Logically, it's obvious that this kind of thinking is erroneous. But such feelings often outweigh the logic of the situation. The idea of delegating responsibility to them feels slovenly, reprehensible or elitist.
2. Free yourself up.
Delegating tasks frees you to pursue broader horizons. It enables you to elevate your activities to a higher level and explore new possibilities for the business. Perhaps you will find ways to improve the efficiency of how things are being done. Or you will discover new ways of marketing. You might even find new products or services to offer your customers or clients.
As you ascend the ladder within your business, the business will ascend to higher, more productive heights. For example, the general manager of a resort was so caught up in running the day-to-day operations of the central building, that he had no time to develop other services within the resort. By training and promoting an employee to take over the management of the building, the general manager was then able to shift his attention and thereby expand the services and quality of the resort in general.
3. Develop backup personnel.
For every task you delegate, there should be a backup person for the task. This way, the business operations will never become dependent on one individual. People get sick, quit or may eventually be promoted or needed in another area. Without a backup person capable of moving into their old position, the business becomes static. When every position is backed up, the dynamics of the entire business are more free-flowing, flexible and less susceptible to a critical shut-down.
The most important person to back up is the owner or general manager of the entire company -- yet it is often the one position that is overlooked. It is common for everyone in the company to view the owner/manager as the heart and soul of the company. They feel without this key person, things would simply fall apart, and there will be no company. It's for this reason that not only should the general manager have someone in mind who could step into the position, but the entire management team should cultivate the same attitude. They need to feel they can work things out and follow the new leader with the same heartfelt dedication and spirit as before. Those can be quite significant shoes to fill. For example, in a resort, the general manager oversees not only the different buildings, but also the different activities for the guests, the management of the employees, physical plant, accounting and legal departments, long-term planning, marketing, etc.
4. Be a good delegator.
A good delegator functions in a manner similar to the old circus act where the showman would spin multiple plates atop poles simultaneously. His job was not only to get the plate spinning, but to occasionally, when needed, give an isolated plate an additional spin to keep it going. A good delegator is ready to step in, if needed, to keep the business running, but does everything in their power to ensure that need is rare. They are then free to advance the company further while having a healthy life of their own.