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Delegate Your Way to Success - Part 2 of 3

“I can't give you a sure-fire formula for success, but I can give you a formula for failure: try to please everybody all the time." – Herbert Swope

Swope is correct. Another formula for failure, if you’re a business owner, is trying to do everything yourself. You can’t, so don’t even try.

(You may be wondering, “Who the heck is Herbert Swope?” He was a St. Louisan and a journalist. He won the very first Pulitzer Prize for Reporting, and coined the phrase “Cold War.” Now you know. Keep it in mind for your next trivia night.)

In part 1 of this series on delegation, I encouraged you to make the transition from “doing” to “thinking.” If you own a business, you are the chief strategist, the motivator, the educator, the leader.

Here are the two tools I offered to help you in this effort:

Before you start -or continue – to perform a task, ask yourself, “Is this the best use of my time and talents?” and Continually ask yourself, “Am I spending so much time doing that I’m not spending enough time goal-setting, planning, strategizing, leading, learning, and training?”

Since each business is unique, it’s impossible for me to offer a list of specific activities that you should or should not delegate. But look at any business from an outside, objective viewpoint and it becomes obvious which jobs are best done by rank-and-file, management, and senior leadership staff. Rank-and-file puts the ladder against the wall and climbs it, management makes sure it is being placed and climbed efficiently, and senior leadership makes sure it is leaning against the right wall. Look at your business from an objective viewpoint, and ask others to take a look as well. Make sure the appropriate people are doing the tasks that seem obvious to an outsider.

As you start hiring employees, begin thinking about developing a management team. Your management team consists of you and the employees you select to help you ensure business success. This is not “president by committee.” You’re still the CEO. Putting a management team in place is a way to delegate certain managerial duties to others. Each member is given responsibility for a certain part of the business along with the necessary authority. In small companies, there’s a good chance that each management team member also has a “doing” job. For instance, the person who manages the accounting department may also handle accounts payable or billing. The sales manager may do some or all of the selling. In a small company, being on the management team doesn’t necessarily mean you just manage.

The management team runs the various departments so the CEO doesn’t have to be involved in and on top of every detail in every part of the company. Members communicate with each and meet regularly so everyone knows what’s going on. Company-wide matters can be discussed and decisions rendered on a team basis. The CEO always has the final say, of course, but should always listen and take team members’ input seriously. Once a decision is made, each member of the management team needs to support that decision fervently, even if he or she was initially against the idea. More on management team meetings in the next chapter.

In his classic book The E-Myth, small business guru Michael Gerber advises, “Work on your business, not just in your business.” I could stay up all night and not think of a way to say it any better.

So, the question of “what and when to delegate” is peculiar to each company. The answer lies in this advice:

Look for situations and tasks that can and should be handled by others. Make the best use of your time and talents. Work on your business and not just in your business. Develop a management team and use the team to help with planning, execution, and to take on some or all of the supervisory workload.

In part 3, we’ll wrap up this 3 part series with specific step-by-step approaches to delegating to your rank-and-file team members.

< Part 1             Part 3 >

 

Bill Collier is the author of “How to Succeed as a Small Business Owner … and Still Have a Life” and is the St. Louis area coach for The Great Game of Business. He helps businesses teach their employees to think and act like owners. He can be reached at 314-221-8558 or bill@collierbiz.com.

 

 

 

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