The Delicate Nature of Delegating
Posted on August 11, 2012
When you’re an entrepreneur, it is your business. So it’s natural to want to manage every aspect of it yourself because so much is at risk, especially during the first year. However, as your business grows, delegating should become an essential role for you as a leader.
Wearing Multiple Hats: It’s Not Just a Fashion Don’t
While it’s very common for owners of startups to try to do it all, it can hurt their image, both in the community and the marketplace. If you’re simply starting a website, then it’s probably okay to be a one-man band; the customer won’t have a clue that it’s just you. But if your company is doing something like high-end consulting, having a team around you is vital for attracting the right clients. If you find yourself handling complaints, offering customer support, managing your books, filling orders, invoicing clients, marketing, and so on, it’s likely that you’re spreading yourself too thin and could benefit from a talented team.
Extreme multitasking also hinders growth; if you don’t trust your employees to grow by giving them more responsibility, it can seriously short your company’s bottom line. Part of your job as a leader is to inspire new hires to become the best at what they do. In my own personal experience, I’ve found that raising the bar of excellence inspires faster growth. I often believe in my staff members before they believe in themselves. As a CEO, this has helped me build a dream team of employees.
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The What and How of Handing Things Over
If it’s tedious, de-energizing, or time-consuming, hand it off. There’s no point in wearing yourself out if you can find someone who’s more enthusiastic about the job. If you feel you’re worth $100 an hour, make sure you’re not stuck doing $10-an-hour work. Of course, when your company’s strapped for cash, you might have to do the $10-an-hour gigs just to get the job done. But that should be short-term; your goal should be to have your employees doing the $10- and $20-an-hour tasks while you work on the bigger picture.
When you choose to start delegating, it’s vital that you have at least a surface-level understanding of how to do every task in your business. You don’t need to be an expert or even the best person for the job, but you should understand the lingo of each division in your company. Needless to say, the more you know about each part, the better you can manage expectations, workflow, and employee performance.
Transition to a Great Team
When it comes down to hiring the right person for the job, my biggest piece of advice is to take your time. Don’t make the same mistake I did, which was to hire too many employees too early. When I was nineteen, I started my first business on a serious hiring high, and I ended up with forty employees. As you might imagine, there was very little company profit at the end of the hiring spree.
Here are some other things to keep in mind:
- Like attracts like. Be an example of the kind of person you want working for you. Don’t present yourself one way and expect to hold your staff to a different set of standards.
- Give some sweat equity. Try to make sure you find partners first before hiring. Many times, you can find partners who will work on equity before you have to start adding a tally to your payroll.
- Contract first. When you have more than enough work for an employee to work for a few years, that’s the time to hire him. If you are a bit unsure that he’ll perform to your standards, hire him as a 10-99 contract employee before you make him salaried.
- Take your time. Conduct thorough interviews and check references. Make sure you’re hiring someone who cannot only do the job, but do the job well.
- Don’t go crazy with the pink slips. If you have an employee who’s underperforming, try to train, motivate, and give him another chance. When all hope is lost, then fire. But keep in mind that a high turnover rate will demoralize your team.
What to Keep to Yourself
It’s important to mention that not everything in your business should be delegated. In fact, it can be detrimental to hand some things off. Make sure you are the one:
- Signing legal documents,
- Closing deals with big clients,
- Handling big press publications, and
- Keeping a close eye on company numbers, even with a CPA’s help.
The main point I’d like you to take away is that most of your time should be spent working on your business, not in it. Be a benevolent and observant overlord. Contract a few good people during your startup’s first year, and let them help you out. If you’re skillful in your delegating, it can be one of the best things you’ll ever do for your business.