Are you the type of entrepreneur who just can’t hand over the reigns? Do you need to micromanage every aspect of your marketing, sales, customer service, accounting, acquisitions – etcetera – for fear that nobody can do it as good as you?
This is a huge problem that plagues small business owners in particular. Those who refuse to let go of responsibility, or just don’t know how to delegate effectively, are so often doomed to never realize the expansion potential their business has.
Richard Branson, the Founder of 400-company Virgin Group, understood the growth limiting potential of being an obsessive micromanagement expert from his first day in business:
“If you really want to grow as an entrepreneur, you’ve got to learn to delegate,” Richard says. “When my friends and I started up Virgin, I knew that I was lacking vital knowledge on some subjects, and so I started learning this skill very early on in my career.” (read the entire Virgin blog post).
It’s long been known (in theory) that those who delegate most effectively tend to enjoy more success in business. A recent Gallop poll gleaned a great deal of data from Fortune 500 CEOs running their own companies. You can read all the poll data if you like, but basically the study found that the best delegators have bigger expansion plans for their business, enjoy faster growth in general, and make over 30 percent more revenue over those labeled as average or poor delegators.
Six Differences Exist Between the Best and Worst Delegators
The Gallop study concluded there were six key differences between entrepreneurs who can delegate successfully and those who exhibited below average or very limited ability to hand off responsibility:
1. Great delegators look at the big picture
This business type knows that focusing on the mundane, day-to-day stuff will limit the company’s growth. They eagerly pass off the small stuff so they can focus on doing things that will lead to more growth and profit.
Poor or downright bad delegators get stuck in the grind, doing things that an employee could easily accomplish and perhaps do much better and faster. This leaves no time for the big-picture stuff like landing bigger contracts, creating better products, expanding services, forming lucrative partnerships, securing VC funding, and other growth-generating activities.
2. They know their employee’s strengths and weaknesses
A skilled delegator will take the time to get to know what their employee’s skill-sets are and make proper use of those skills, which leads to more productivity and employee satisfaction.
By contrast, poor delegators often have no real clue what their employees can and cannot do, leading to them failing to utilize their staff effectively and/or setting them up for failure when they do delegate tasks – eg., sending someone out to land a big fish with a fishing pole that has no hook or bait attached.
3. Effective delegators nurture their employee’s growth
They’ll also help and encourage employees to expand their skills when time allows. Providing all the tools, training, and resources needed to get things done in the shortest time possible.
Non-delegators foolishly subscribe to the “If you want it done right, do it yourself” mantra, and usually lack the patience to teach effectively.
4. Delegators set clear expectations and monitor for follow-through
A successful delegator will set crystal clear expectations on the outcomes they expect, will monitor progress and offer continuous feedback to make sure the job gets done right – without micromanaging every minute-to-minute detail. This leads to more commitment, better morale and greater overall performance from employees.
Bad delegators are often famous for their doublespeak or dolling out ambiguous instructions and continuously contradicting others which rarely leads to employees learning from mistakes, or making them feel motivated to get the job done right.
5. Smart delegators encourage autonomy from their employees
While they might be the one holding all the company capital and writing the checks that keep the doors open, a good delegator knows how important it is to let employees take an ownership role in the company, making decisions on their own and offering innovative ideas for improvement or expansion.
Non-delegators, as you might expect, don’t trust anyone and only their ideas actually matter.
6. They always keep the lines of communication open with their staff
Good delegators don’t wait for the poop to hit the fan before offering feedback. They also foster a culture of mutual trust and respect with their staff by striving to always recognize them for their accomplishments.
Non-delegators tend to be quick to finger point or lash out verbally, without offering constructive feedback when mistakes happen, and even more rarely offering praise when something gets done right. This leads to a definite disconnect between the employer and team members and rarely leads to productive growth.
It’s Never Too Late!
I really believe that the ability to trust others to get things done on yours and your company’s behalf is a social skill that most first time business owners either have or don’t. However, it’s never too late to change once you come to the realization that your stubborn micromanaging ways are getting in the way of your ultimate success and growth in the business world.
You can’t do it all yourself folks!