For my Stage 3 book that is called The Art of Delegation: How to Effectively Let Go to Grow with 20 – 34 Employees, I reached out to other consultants and coaches and asked them to contribute their ideas on how to help CEOs delegate effectively.
The ability for a CEO to understand how to delegate, what to delegate and when to delegate doesn’t come easily. However, it is one of the most effective skills to learn in order to grow a successful company.
The definition from Webster’s dictionary states, “When you delegate, you empower someone else to act for you. Th e act of delegation, then, involves conferring (some of) your functions or powers on another so he or she can act on your behalf.”
We all GET what delegation is all about. No one refutes the necessity of it. Why, then is it so darn hard to do? In my own personal experience, delegation became easier as I became a better leader. In order to build an organization, you have to learn how to manage people and tasks. That, in my opinion, is what delegation is all about. If you can’t delegate, you aren’t managing. If you aren’t managing, you aren’t leading.
Nothing creates more problems for an entrepreneur than “conferring your functions or powers” on someone else. If it were easy, small business would not have an 80% attrition rate. If a CEO fails at learning how to delegate effectively, they lose. Period.
Delegation involves knowing what should be delegated; it requires a clear set of expectations and a follow-up process. Have you heard any of these reasons why your CEOs don’t delegate?
• “Every time I delegate something, it back-fires and I end up doing it over again!”
• “Delegate? What if they mess up?”
• “Why is it so hard to expect people to get something done the way you want it done?”
• “I hate to delegate! I’m always disappointed with the results!”
• “Who has time to delegate? By the time I explain what I want done, I could have it done already!”
• “Delegation only works with people who are really motivated to succeed.”
• “Delegating is a great concept, but I’m tired of trying to teach my employees how to get the work done.”
• “Why can’t my managers step-up and take the initiative? I have to do everything!”
Right? If you are like me, you’ve heard them all. The challenge for all of us is to help our leaders, embrace the art of delegation in order to ‘let it go to let it grow’.
In my Stage 3 book, I talk about a simple four-step approach to delegation and provide ideas on how to implement each step.
STEP 1: ARTICULATE YOUR VISION
“He who has a why can endure any how.” – Friedrich Nietzsche People need to understand the bigger picture and, more importantly, how what they do every day impacts the future of the organization. Why did you start your business? Where do you see your business in the next 18 – 24 months? What do you care about? What do you stand for? Why are you
different/better than your competition? Without this clarity on your part, it’s hard for your employees to understand why they should care.
IMPLEMENTATION IDEA: Communicate the vision. Write it down. Talk about that vision every chance you get. In your weekly one-on-one with your direct reports, ask if they have any questions about where the organization is going. If they don’t have an answer, supply one for them. Explain the vision again. And again. Then ask them how their job, what they do every day impacts how the organization is going to implement on that vision
STEP 2: MAP THE ROUTE
Once you know where you want to go, then you need to decide what route to take. What positions, roles, responsibilities, talent and skills are needed to grow the company? You can’t delegate if you don’t know where you are going or how you will get there. Don’t assume employees understand their roles and responsibility just because you pay them a lot of money or they have experience. They aren’t mind readers. Your employees need to be told what their job is, what your expectations are, how doing their job impacts the organization, and what the consequences are if they don’t do their job. Basic management. Sound leadership.
IMPLEMENTATION IDEA: Create an organizational chart to identify what positions are needed to grow your business, how each position helps you attain your vision and identify specific roles and responsibilities. This isn’t a people chart. If you already have people in certain roles, take them out of the equation. It’s tempting to want certain people to stay in certain roles. Maybe they started with the organization and you feel obligated to have them around. This kind of thinking clouds your judgement.
STEP 3: FOLLOW UP
Following up helps people accept accountability. And trying to delegate tasks without follow up is like trying to lose weight without changing any behaviors. It won’t work. If employees understand their roles and are responsible for specific tasks, the delegation conversation becomes much easier. “We agreed you would have the sales procedures in place no later than May 30. Thanks for getting back to me with your results.” Delegating requires follow up to ensure assignments are completed. “I see you didn’t get the sales process completed by the 30th. What was the reason and what’s your new plan to get us back on track?” Bad managers micromanage. Exceptional managers delegate effectively. Which one are you?
IMPLEMENTATION IDEA: Improve your management and leadership skills. An organization will only rise to the level of the leader’s ability. John Maxwell, author of 21 Laws of Irrefutable Leadership, calls this the Law of the Lid. As your leadership and management skills improve, so will the organization’s. Ask yourself, “What can I do to improve my own skills to elevate the company?”
STEP 4: DON’T BE AFRAID OF HARD CONVERSATIONS
Delegation is a skill that requires having difficult conversations when expectations aren’t met. To be effective, you need to react to missed deadlines or other deviations from expectations immediately. You can’t wait. It’s your job to find out why something isn’t completed within the agreed upon timeframe. Th e conversation isn’t about being right or wrong; it’s about why expectations weren’t met. I learned this lesson the hard way. If I didn’t address a problem or concern immediately, something else suffered. Th e problems just got more complicated. My lesson was to nip the issue in the bud, and I saved myself and everyone else a lot of grief.
IMPLEMENTATION IDEA: Set expectations to make hard conversations easier. Ask the employee to provide you updates so you know the status without having to track someone down. Delegating tasks means shifting responsibility to another person to be accountable for the results. If everyone knows there are repercussions for missed deadlines, the conversation shifts from blame to performance correction. Exceptional managers address issues when they occur.
Successful leaders know the value of delegation. They have a strong, clear vision, know what needs to be done, hire the right people, and manage to the outcome driven by their vision. It’s not the act of delegating that we struggle with; it’s the unrealistic expectation we have of the outcome.
The rest of the chapter covers What and Why You Should Delegate so if you are looking to help your CEOs master this critical leadership tool, I highly recommend you share the concepts in my Stage 3 book with leaders and managers of any size company.
Remember, I’m only a phone call away if you have any questions about the 7 Stages of Growth and the other programs available to the Growth Curve Specialists community.
Your success. My passion.
Laurie Taylor, FlashPoint!