I’m blessed to work with many business owners who are rapidly growing. They are certainly enjoying the growth, but alongside the joy is pain. Business growth for most entrepreneurs brings two types of pain:
1: There are not enough hours in the day to do everything required to implement their vision.
2: Entrepreneurs are happiest when they are NOT in the weeds, where they have to handle the operational tasks that keep the company running.
The natural remedy for both of these problems is to engage additional people, and assign the tasks that the business owner doesn’t want to do and/or does not do well.
Sounds like the perfect solution, yes?
Not so fast.
Successful delegation is an art. Sometimes it’s even an optical illusion. On the surface, it may appear that everything is handled well, and critical initiatives are moving forward. Dig a little deeper, however, and you may discover that tasks have been buried.
In so many organizations, I have seen CEOs “empower” others too quickly with authority or responsibility because they need some relief. We are always looking for people to be our back-up…to carry the load with us. The most important part of the word “empower” is POWER. By delegating responsibility to others, you are giving them POWER in your organization. POWER feels good. But with it comes the task of delivery – and the CEO is still ultimately responsible for the delivery.
To ensure you are successfully delegating, follow these steps:
- Identify the tasks you are going to delegate, and what the outputs are.
- Determine who you will delegate the tasks to. Ensure that you are not asking someone to take on responsibilities that do not align with their natural strengths, talents, or readiness. Employees must be able to fully manage themselves before taking on the responsibilities of others.
- Create a management plan for the person assigned to these tasks. When we delegate tasks, we don’t release responsibility or ownership of that task. Rather, we have added to our own accountability because we are now responsible for the output and performance of others. The quality of our own performance is directly tied to the performance of those for whom we manage.
- Schedule regular status meetings with the employee(s) you have delegated tasks to.
Depending on the size of your organization, you may delegate tasks to an employee, who may then delegate them to someone else if they have a direct report. If this is the case, communicate to both parties about the responsibility and importance of delegation management. Ultimately everything rolls up to top leadership, so regardless of the numbers of layers, the CEO ultimately owns the outcomes. Therefore, it is necessary to create a feedback loop where executive leadership is briefed on the status of all initiatives.
For anyone who has now been emPOWERed, ask them to regularly report:
- What they have delegated
- How they are managing it
Delegation does free up the executive leadership in the organization, but it also injects additional management requirements. It’s never a good idea to go on auto-pilot when important operational tasks are delegated throughout the organization. Stay attuned to the delegation relationships and responsibilities in your company, and you will stay ahead of the small hiccups that can turn into big problems.
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Please check out my Inc. Magazine columns on my Author Page too.
– In my latest Inc, article, I share The Essential Guide to Avoiding Workplace Text, Email, & Social Media Disasters.
– Learn about the 9 Leadership Behaviors that Lose Employee Trust & Respect here.
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