(Just so you know, my mom has full knowledge that I’m writing this piece!) How often have you told yourself “It’s far easier for me to do it myself than explain to someone else what I want.” If that sounds like you, read on.
We just returned from a long holiday visit with my folks, a veritable family reunion full of kids, food, late night puzzles and fireworks. Great times! But as usual there was one person in our midst enjoying the celebration a lot less than the rest of us. That would be my mom – chief architect, caterer, and party planner. She spent most of the holiday standing in the kitchen ministering to our many needs despite a sprained ankle. What gives?
Well, my mother has a well-established (and admitted, I might add) inability to delegate. It’s not that she doesn’t want help, it’s that she doesn’t know how to communicate what she needs – at least not in the heat of battle and/or heat of the kitchen. We stand around, in the way, feebly attempting to help. Not a productive situation.
I’ve worked with many business owners who have the same problem. Despite their best interests and intentions, they’re still doing everything themselves. If you’ve struggled with this, here are some tips for getting out of the “failure to delegate” cycle.
- Outsource basic business functions. Why are you doing your own bookkeeping? There are many competent, affordable professionals who will do it better than you and in less time, like Amy LeMieux at JASS. Concierge services like Deb Brown’s Time Creators will do everything from buy your office supplies to address your kid’s birthday party invitations. How can you lose?
- Document the way you want things done. Many professionals will not let go of certain tasks because they fear they will not be done “right”. The best way to ensure things are done your way is to document. Not only does it tell someone else how you want things completed, it also gives you a basis for evaluating and providing feedback on performance.
- Calculate the cost of your time. Contrary to what you might believe, your time is not free. Assign yourself an hourly rate based on your salary, billable rate, or other appropriate measure. Then decide if it’s really cheaper for your to pick up paper clips or make deliveries.
- Hire people who know more than you do in at least one area of your business. The best leaders surround themselves with smart, talented people who can perform as well as or better than they can. If you don’t do this the business will eventually exceed your capacity – and that means stagnant (or no) growth.
I’m not sure we’ll ever get my mom out of the kitchen during a family holiday – and in truth, none of us will ever cook as well as she does. But we do know how to clean up and run to the store for ice!
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