Posted by: Eric Wichhart | November 8, 2011

End The Madness

In my previous article Delegation vs. Abdication we discussed the downward cycle caused by business owners abdicating their responsibilities instead of delegating them. When an owner abdicates a responsibility they create a downward spiral that can eventually destroy their business. Today we will discuss some strategies to break the cycle and launch the business past this stage.

The first step to resolving this issue is recognizing the problem and creating an action plan to move forward. Without recognition of the problem any strategies used to overcome this issue will be very short lived in their effectiveness.

So now that we have recognized the problem the next steps will help you move forward toward having a successful business. To move forward we must first STOP abdicating our responsibilities and start delegating. The process of delegating involves Documenting the process; Discussing the responsibility with the person you are delegating the process to; Training the individual how to do the process; Following up with the person on a regular basis, then Letting Go of the responsibility and finally Touch Base afterwards on an irregular basis.

The first step is documenting the process. When we document the process, we create a step by step guide on how to accomplish the task. In addition to a list of tasks, the guide needs to include how often the task needs to be completed, how long the task will take, and what are your expectations for the completed product.

The next step involves discussing the responsibility. When you discuss the responsibility you sit down with the individual, discuss the responsibility and your expectations.

You next train the person on the task. This training should take as much time as required in order for the person to be able to complete the task to your expectations. Please note that if you do not train the person completely, you may be setting them up for failure.

The forth step is follow up. Follow up is essential. In the beginning you need to follow up very regularly and as you become more comfortable with the performance of the individual, you can slowly decrease the frequency of the follow ups. It is very important to decrease the frequency, because if you do not, you start to micro manage and if you micro manage, you might as well have done the work yourself.

Then once the person is performing the task with success, you need to then allow them to have responsibility for the task and let go. The act of letting go will do many things. First it allows you to have more time to do other tasks that only you can do, but more important, you build up the ego of the person. You allow them to feel a sense of responsibility and ownership. When a person feels ownership, they have a sense of pride, which reflects in their overall work, thus making a better employee. This is a double win for you and for them.

After you let go, you still need to follow up, but we call this touching base, because this type of follow up should be very casual. For example, you see the person in the break room. Ask them “so how are you doing with that new task?” They answer “great.” You say “Well, if you need any help, just let me know.” In the touching base phase, we want to keep our hands off as much as possible, but not live with our heads in the sand. This is truly a balancing act that you will learn with experience.

Delegating is a lot of work on the front end, but in the long run it will alleviate you of many responsibilities and give you more time for other tasks. Abdicating is less work up front, but creates a lot more work in the future ,as you may have to repair client relationships and issues caused by improper training. Learning to delegate takes time and experience. You may not get it right the first time, but if you keep working at it, you will benefit greatly in the end.


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