Buzzwords are an intriguing thing… When they are used correctly, they help make workplace communication more productive and efficient. However, when used incorrectly and thrown around for jargon purposes, they can lose their meaning and ultimately waste time.
So, you’re faced with a conundrum: what buzzwords are worth your time to make a difference, and what phrases are simply not worth learning or practicing? Unfortunately, I don’t have all of the answers to this question, but I can provide you with one buzzword that you absolutely should pay attention to — delegation. To run a successful business, every leader needs to understand exactly what this word means and how they can utilize it to make the most of their time.
It’s Not Just a Catchword
Entrepreneurship is anything but a singular job, and to do it successfully, you’ll need to be a “Swiss Army Knife” to accommodate a bevy of competing priorities at any given time. At the inception of your company, you might find that it’s easier to do this versus further down the road as the company scales.
For example, tasks like scouring your network and getting sucked into the rabbit hole of online research to source your next hire, will absolutely start to detract from the time you could be using to improve your product or service along with a multitude of other high-priority items that require your undivided attention.
Another example, you might find that although you’re good at marketing, someone else might be able to do it better and more efficiently than you can to stay on top of what matters most to bring your brand to life and truly make it “sing”.
Every single scaling company will reach a point where delegation is essential for future growth. When this happens, it can be hard to let go and allow other people to influence the future of your team, startup or business. But if you can truly empower the brilliant people you’ve surrounded yourself with to offset what’s bogging you down while providing them with a chance take on more, learn, grow, and thrive, the returns will be tenfold.
The ROI Is Significant
There are many benefits to delegating your startup’s processes, but two stand out among the rest: efficiency and development. Delegation improves efficiency when it allows you to shift work to people who are better matched to the task(s) at hand than yourself. Although it can be hard to acknowledge, being an expert at everything just isn’t realistic — especially if you want to be a great leader. Luckily, with delegation, you can allow others to carry out the activities that you haven’t mastered so you can spend your time coaching your employees and growing your business.
As a leader, delegation will also allow you to connect with your team in meaningful ways. When you hand over a new task to someone, you show them that you trust their capabilities and have confidence in their potential. This provides your workers with a stronger sense of accountability, purpose and “buy-in”, especially if you’re taking care of them.
An Indispensable Skill That’s Easy to Implement
If you want to try your hand at delegation, there are a few things you need to know before you hit the ground running. Mainly, you’ll need to understand what you should delegate and to whom you should delegate.
There are a few questions you can ask yourself when you’re considering whether or not a task should be handled by someone else, but here’s the bottom line: if a task keeps you from growing your business, it should be delegated. For anything that meets this criterion, it’s time to figure out who you’ll engage to delegate the task at hand to.
Not only will you want to choose someone that’s capable and willing of successfully taking on the task, but you’ll need to select someone that will have a sense of ownership to be motivated to make the task effective and efficient. Additionally, you’ll need to figure out the best way to ensure what you’re delegating doesn’t slip through the cracks without being a micro-managing maniac.
When it comes to sales in startups, I recommend that leaders establish a healthy stream of proactive communication between both parties. You want to promote an open-door policy, think more “coach” less “boss”, and have committed 1:1 time weekly (that you won’t blow off) to connect. During your time together, you can understand how the new responsibility is going and provide any guidance that’s needed. This is also a great chance to learn something new or identify potential blind spots as they complete the project.
Setting Yourself Up for Success
Truth be told, I’ve struggled with delegation myself. As a self-professed “Type A” personality, I claimed it was easier to just do it myself along with a host of other excuses rather than think about delegating. This thoughtful post on LinkedIn (compliments of Max Altschuler) recently reminded me of the importance of delegation and how this has a dramatic effect on business.
Max, thoughtfully pointed out the importance of hiring the best people for the job and I couldn’t agree more! As a startup sales leader, one of the simplest things you can do to set yourself up for success is to hire the right people. After all, with the best team behind you, you’ll have a healthy pool of star performers to choose from when you need to delegate an important task.
Recruiting, hiring, and onboarding is a time-intensive and costly process to say the least — all of which can be in vain if the hire is a mismatch for your team. Moreover, if you end up hiring one or more people that aren’t the right fit, delegating tasks with confidence will be more than difficult. Fortunately, if you take the proper time and care to develop and implement a successful hiring process, you’ll have many options when it comes time to delegate.
In addition to making the right hires, you can support your delegation process through automation (technology is your friend). A few years ago, I worked with a company that was facing a big issue: one of their key leaders left the company, and took essential information with them on the way out. Said person was responsible for carrying out several tasks that were germane to the company’s success. This was the only person in the organization that knew how to do these tasks, so when they departed, the company was feeling a significant amount of pain…Not only did they need to replace the person, but they had to spend a ton of time figuring out what the person did and how they did it.
If you’d like to avoid an issue like this happening with your startup, look to meaningful automation opportunities before you hand them off. It helps reduce the pain through an established process that can easily be absorbed by another person.
Ready to Delegate?
Over the years, I’ve worked hard to let go, delegate, surround myself with the best, and embrace the fact that I can’t do it all no matter how much I want to. That was really easy to write, a lot harder to actually do.
A mentor encouraged me to read What Got You Here Won’t Get You There as I thought about starting ATP and it so reinforced my mindset to support the power of delegation as an entrepreneur. For me, learning to delegate is a like a muscle that you have to build over time. It wasn’t easy at first and is something I continue to work on if I want to be a strong business leader.
Now it’s your turn to weigh in… How have you embraced delegation? What’s prevented you in the past from letting go? What “hacks” have you applied to make the most out of your delegation efforts?
If you choose not to delegate, why? How are you effectively managing your time?
I can’t wait to hear your perspective. As always, thanks for reading!
I originally wrote this on the Avenue Talent Partners blog.