The hardest skill that you’re going to need to learn as a business owner is how to effectively delegate. I used to think that if you just follow a few simple steps you can become great at delegating. Unfortunately, there’s a little more to it than just learning the steps. You have to actually become good at them as well.
The hardest skill that you’re going to ever need to learn as a business owner is how to effectively delegate. I used to think that if you just follow a few simple steps you can become great at delegating. Unfortunately, there’s a little more to it than just learning the steps. You have to actually become good at them as well, which means you need to practice.
So delegation is not a do it once and now you know it thing. You have to practice and practice and practice. It really is a something you have to try, make mistakes, learn from the mistakes and then try again. You’ll probably have to repeat these 10, if not 100 times before you get it right and you become competent, and then you become unconsciously competent at how to delegate and do it effectively.
The one good thing that will happen, no matter how many tries it takes for you to learn how to delegate, is each time you’ll find that you get a little better, and a little better, and a little better. You might not notice this at first. But over time if you look back at what you’ve accomplished, you’ll find that you’ve come a long way.
So let’s jump right in and start with what you need to do to become a great delegator. Now once you know what to do, it doesn’t mean you’ve become a great delegator, it just means you know what to do. And now you get a chance to practice it and become better, and better.
- So number one, understand that the fist time you try to delegate, it’ll most likely be a total failure. In fact, it could be past a total failure. It’ll be something that’s so bad, you may say to yourself, “Delegation doesn’t work. “I just have to do it myself.” And by the way, the one skill it really takes to grow your company past five to 10 people is becoming a delegation ninja. The people who are good and build businesses with 100s of employees, they’ve learned how to delegate, they’ve learned how to delegate effectively. You know, here’s the thing that’s really true. We don’t learn when we do it right. Now if we delegate and it works well, well that’s just pure luck because we really didn’t know what we were doing. We tried stuff and it worked. Now the next time you delegate it may not work so well and that’s when you get to start learning because we learn from our mistakes. And mistakes are not necessarily a bad thing. They’re really learning opportunities and something I want you to take advantage of. The thing you can’t do when you start to delegate, and delegation is a crucial, I would say the most important skill that you can have as a business owner, you can’t say it didn’t work, and stop and take over the work and do it yourself. If you do that you stuck yourself into buying yourself a job and not building the business. You know, it took me about three years before I got decent at delegating and then I still wasn’t very good. But I had to learn how to delegate because for a whole bunch of reasons, my business grew a lot faster than it should’ve, and a lot faster than I was able to handle when it first came up. So, I had to learn to delegate or my business would’ve exploded, and it came pretty darn close to that, I gotta tell ya that.
- So, make sure the person you’re delegating to has a good understanding of what you want. And the best way to do that is to have them repeat back what you delegated. Now just because they repeat it back what you’ve asked them to do, and to be able to do it effectively doesn’t mean they’re going to do it right.
- You need to use these three words that I learned from my first mentor Shields Harvey. And those words are: expect, inspect, accept. And we call that EIA. So EIA just basically is when you expect, you set a clear expectation. And then you have the person you’re delegating to come back to you and say, “This is what my understanding is.” Now there’s a good chance that as they come back and say, “Here’s what my understanding is,” it’s not really what you had in mind. So you have a chance to correct that at that point. So once you get to the point where you have the right expectation, and they have the right understanding of what your expectation is, then you let them go and do whatever it is that you’ve delegated. Now you can’t come back three weeks or four weeks later and look at what they’ve done and said, “Ugh, it’s terrible. “I have to redo this, I have to go there.” So when you get to the inspect stage, which is after you get that clear expectation and both understand it, you have to go back and inspect. Now I would recommend that you go back and inspect no more than 48 hours after you first delegate something. Just to check in. You don’t go and need to go and look over their shoulder, and micromanage, and tell them what to do. This is where you come in and you say, “Hey, how are we doing on this thing “that I delegated to you? “Are there any problems? “Is there anything I can help you with? “Is there anything that you’re confused about?” And if they are, then you have a chance to correct them at that point, and then they keep going, and they keep going. So instead of you doing the job which might take you four or five hours, you have a five minute or a six minute inspection conversation, that’s all it takes. Now after the task is done and it’s been done properly, which will happen if you do a good inspection process, then you need to accept it. And accepting means you have to tell the person they’ve done the job properly and you really appreciate it. So, now here’s what you might wanna be doing afterwards. You might wanna be saying, “Okay, I need to inspect, “and I need to reinspect and reinspect when I first start, “but once we get to the point where I’ve delegated a process “and the process is being done well, “I want you to have the person you delegated to “document the process so it becomes systematized “within your company.”
- So, there’s something called appreciative inquiry. And I talk about appreciative inquiry a lot. And what appreciative inquiry really means is we’re building on what works. So when the delegation process, so I’m going back and I’m inspecting, I wanna be finding out, hey what worked here and how can we build on that? If there are some mistakes that need to be corrected, let’s do that in a positive way, not in a negative way by blaming or justifying along with that. You wanna take personal responsibility and say, “What can I do to help make your life easier “and make this delegation process work better?” By asking the person that you’re working with and you’re delegating to, is gonna have a great idea most of the time about what they need from you and you need to listen and make sure you do that.
- So remember the power of questions. When it doesn’t work, what you wanna do is ask what could’ve been different, and you definitely don’t want to lose your temper. I remember when I first started delegating to people and they did something wrong, I would scream at them, and call them all sorts of names. And I can tell you from firsthand experience, if you wanna find a way for your employees to sabotage you, that’s the best thing to do, yell at ’em and tell them they’re idiots. So there’s two magical questions that I use all the time with people I’m delegating. When I go to somebody and say, “Gee, what didn’t happen here?” And they might go and shrug their shoulders, which happens often. And the reason people shrug their shoulders and don’t know or won’t give you an answer is they don’t wanna get yelled at. They don’t wanna be blamed. So this is where you get to say, “What would happen if?” So, one of the things you’re doing when you’re delegating, you might say, “What would happen if you did this?” Or “What would happen if we did this in a different way?” Then you wait for their answer to that and they might say, “Oh, that doesn’t work.” Then you’d say, “Well, if it doesn’t work, “what do we need to do instead?” The second thing I want you to do is when someone says, “I don’t know,” and they keep saying, “I don’t know,” and you can them past I don’t know, this happens all the time, at least it does with me. So my question at that point is, “Hey, if you did know, what would the answer be?” And what that does is it allows them to get out of their rut of having to be right, and they get to imagine a little bit. What would happen if, if you did know, allows them to imagine and you want them to do that. And then, I have this happen unfortunately more often than I want, if they still say they don’t know, then you ask them to pretend they know what the answer is, and guess what happens? When they pretend to know what the answer is, it’ll most likely tell you exactly what you want them to do and you say, “Yes, that’s it, please do that.” And they’ll go ahead and do it. And now you’ve taught them to delegate and it only took you a few minutes to do that.
- So, you may hate systems, and I bet you do hate systems ’cause almost everybody I know who owns a business hates systems. They like to make things up. They like to do things on the fly. But the truth is your employees don’t. So as you’re delegating, this really gives you a great opportunity to build systems in your business, and systematize the processes that you do. Now you don’t have to do the processing or document the process. In fact, I don’t want you to document the process because you’re not the person doing the job. You’re not the expert at doing the job. The person you delegated at has now become the expert at that job. So one of the things you wanna do at the end of the delegation process when things are working right, you wanna have the person you delegated to document the process. So let’s not focus on fixing the system, and let’s not focus on blaming the person we delegated because they did it wrong. Let’s focus on what we need to do and how we make those small changes along to become better at delegating, and I can tell you, it’s all around the inspect process. If you become great at inspecting, you’re going to become a great delegator.
So what do you think? Are you willing to work at becoming a delegation ninja? Hey, why don’t you scroll down and leave me a comment below and tell me what you’re gonna do to become a better delegator in your business. And while you’re at it, DOWNLOAD our Free eBook on Relationships & Roles in your business. It’ll help you figure out what you need to be doing, and how you need to be in your business, and what you need to be delegating, and when you don’t need to be delegating.
So hey, this is Josh Patrick. You’re at the Sustainable Business. Thanks a lot for stopping by. I hope to see you back here really, really soon.