The Business Edge Blog

August 1, 2013

Expert Advice on Mastering the Art of Delegation

delegation

There are only 24 hours in a day, yet many small-business owners spend too much precious time doing tasks that could be done by someone else.

Mastering the art of delegation is key to success in any business. But letting go of control isn’t always easy. To help you make the transition, the Intuit Small Business Blog rounded up some expert advice for learning how to delegate.

Overcome Your Fears

“For any business owner, not delegating is like buying a window seat ticket on the Titanic — nice ride, but you are going to sink,” warns John Boggs, president of Fortitude Consulting.

Come to grips with giving up a little bit of control, advises Paul Foster, CEO of the Business Therapist. “It is important to be happy if the delegate does things 80 percent as well as you could. This thinking allows you to accept some minimal level of learning-type failures and hiccups. If you’re a perfectionist, it blocks you from delegating because nobody will do it perfectly the first time. The ‘80 percent’ thinking will free you to give up a minimal amount of control.”

Delegation is an act of trust, because there’s a real chance for failure. According to Michelle Randall, principal at Enriching Leadership International, it’s important to delegate while setting up a series of yellow flags as an early alert system to launch Plan B. “My best clients have learned how to do this successfully and that has allowed them to stop acting as a bottleneck to growth. As a result, their companies have flourished. The business owners who haven’t are languishing.”

Prepare to Pass the Baton

One key to successful delegation is to hire the right people. “If you’ve hired good people, the trust you need [to establish] before you delegate comes faster, and the fear of failure that holds it back diminishes,” says Chris Smith, co-founder of the management consulting firm Arryve. “This means less room to get emotional about it, and it means having others more effectively involved in moving your business forward.”

When trying to decide where to delegate, ask yourself whether the task has to do with process or results, with the tactical or strategic, advises Leslie Ungar, president of Electric Impulse Communications.

Boggs adds: Be clear on what you want done, when you need it done, and why it needs to be done.

Differentiating between tasks that can and should be delegated and tasks that require personal handling is just as important as knowing how to delegate, writes Edward Reilly, president and CEO of the American Management Association, in the book AMA Business Boot Camp. He says assignments that probably can be delegated are tasks which closely relate to the work employees are already doing; tasks with clearly defined procedures and end results; repetitive tasks that fit into the normal work flow; and tasks that enable employees to develop themselves.

What Not to Delegate

This raises the question of what not to delegate? For starters, things of a highly sensitive nature, such as salary reviews and disciplinary actions, Reilly writes.

A lot of client and customer-facing work shouldn’t be let go until your business has matured, Smith says. “Because small-business owners tend to be the face of the business, that’s very important to ensure brand consistency and experience.” Think twice, too, about delegating tasks that involve vision.

Once you do decide to delegate, you need to back off. “If they have to come to you for every decision, why delegate?” asks Boggs. Make sure that employees understand the latitude they have in making decisions.

“Have people give you their best idea [or] solution before you get involved,” suggests John Martinka of Martinka Consulting. “Don’t let them come to you with an issue on which you’ll take time to brainstorm, think about, or create a solution for them.”

If you’re looking for a little structure on delegating, Halley Bock, CEO of Fierce, a leadership development and training firm, recommends the decision tree analogy. Someone can be delegated a responsibility at four different levels of the decision tree (leaf, branch, trunk, or root). Each level has a clear, concise definition of what is expected for that project and sets guidelines on how to interact with the leader.

What’s the trick for letting go emotionally? According to Unger, “The mind-set needs to be that your value is in the what, the vision — and not the how, the tactical. If it’s not vision, you need not be doing it. Emotions change. Let go first and the emotions will follow. If you wait until you feel like letting go, it will never happen. It is behavior first and then attitude, not vice versa.”

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Let me know how your delegation goes –

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October 16, 2012

7 Keys to Success for Business Owners – Part 7 – Presenting

How do you know what to focus on day-to-day?   Presenting may help.

Sometimes business owners come to me when things aren’t clear to them about what they should be doing next.  I ask them to present their company by answering questions about each of the six points already covered in this series.

Often the light bulb quickly goes on when they realize which of the areas they are not doing much or anything at all in.  “Maybe that’s the answer,” some have blurted out.  I may have known it was the answer, but it’s always best to have someone discover it themselves. Presenting brings it all together because you have to truly understand something to present it.

What do you think? How do you present your organization to your employees, the bank, vendors, investors, or the general public? You’re probably better than you think, because if you weren’t doing some version of these 7 Keys to Success well, you would have been out of business a long time ago.  Perhaps you could use some fine tuning in a few areas or maybe a complete makeover.  I’ve been through just about any scenario you could imagine with my clients.

Your homework assignment is to revisit your Vision, Profit Plan, Marketing Plan, Organizational Plan, Leadership and Cash Flow Forecast.  If you have someone to present these to, do so.  Give them permission to ask you questions about what is not clear.  In the presenting it may become very clear what you should be doing next.

If you’d like to present your business to me, email me to schedule a conversation at coach@thebizedge.biz.

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I look forward to hearing from you.  You can join in the discussion and post your thoughts below.

Until next time – Remember to mind your business!

August 27, 2012

7 Keys to Success for Business Owners – Part 5 – Organization and Leadership

Organization Plan
How do you let your people help you run and grow your business? Who is responsible for doing what in your business? Does everybody know who does what and would they provide the same response if asked?

In the book by Michael Gerber The E-Myth Revisited there is an assignment to develop an organizational chart that covers every element of your business.  From keeping the light bulbs replaced to paying the light bill, every element of your organization should be covered within a box on the organization chart.  The next step is to fill in the names of the people responsible for each aspect of the business.

If your own name appears on too many of the boxes it’s no wonder you feel overwhelmed or like you can never take a day off.  Are you micromanaging your people, or are there things you still need to delegate?  One of my solopreneur clients has hired two virtual assistants that will be doing work she does not personally need to do.  I’m excited to watch her grow as she focuses on the areas she must personally address to move forward.

Take time to draw your own organizational chart.  Enter the names of the people responsible for the boxes.  Make certain that you are allowing your people to help you grow the business by giving you freedom to work on the things that requires you to personally do.  The time you free up should be focused on working ON your business instead of IN your business.  Now make sure that everyone in the organization knows who to go to for what.  It will save time and help your business run smoothly as you move forward.

Leadership
How do you even know what to focus on to become a better Leader? Nobody really tries to be a poor Leader, do they?

Do you know what your natural leadership style is?  Do you know the strengths and weaknesses of that style?  Do you know the leadership and learning style of your team members?  If your leadership style is misunderstood, it could be that you are leading in a style that is like a foreign language to those you are trying to lead.   Do you know how powerful knowing your style can be in not only getting the most out of yourself, but also your team, your clients, your vendors, your life?  If you have never done an Extended DISC analysis that introduces you to your natural leadership style and how your style works best with other styles, invest the time and money to learn more.  I can help you with the analysis and understanding how to use your natural leadership style to become the best leader for your team.

I can’t remember the last day that went by that I haven’t utilized this information on how I lead to help me understand the world around me. A big part of Leadership is not only knowing what to say, but also how to communicate it to different audiences.

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What does your organizational chart look like?  How well have you delegated by putting other people’s names in the boxes? Does everyone know who is responsible for what in your organization?

Do you know your leadership style?  Do you know the styles of your team members?  Are you speaking the same language?

I look forward to hearing from you.  Please add your comments below.

Until next time – Remember to mind your business!

July 17, 2012

7 Keys to Success for Business Owners – Part 2 – From Vision to Action

From Vision to Action –  In the last issue I introduced you to the 7 Keys to Success that successful business owners focus on as they grow their businesses.  The 7 keys are:

Vision, Profit Plan, Marketing Plan, Organization Plan, Leadership, Cash Flow Forecast, and Presenting

The exercises in the last issue included drawing the diagrams to formulate the overall vision for your business so that you could describe it to someone.  More specifically, refining your vision to the point of defining details of your business 3 years from now including:

What are your offerings?
What does the organization look like?
What is your role in the organization?
What rewards are you enjoying?
Who are you working with?

My business coaching clients enjoy doing the exercises.  It’s fun to look into a crystal ball and dream BIG.  How did it feel for you to envision the growth of your business?

Now it’s time to define what it would take to get your business from where it is today to where you envision it could be.  Regardless of what your vision is, or what your business is, I guarantee that it takes ACTION, often different action from what you are doing today.  Albert Einstein said it well…..

Insanity: doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results. Albert Einstein

I know you are busy.  I know you are working “IN” your business every day.  But it’s time to start working “ON” your business.  If you keep doing the same things over and over again, you can’t expect different results.

Look at each of the areas in your business vision that are different from where your business is today.  What ACTION do you need to take to move forward toward your vision?  Start a brainstorming list.  You’ll think of more things as you spend more time on this.  Often you can define big steps you need to take, but they can be daunting.  List the big steps, but then begin to list all the small steps that it will take to reach the big step.  Let me give you an example –

Let’s say your vision includes moving to a different location.  What are the big steps involved?  At a minimum you’d need to find the location and build it out to suit your needs.  Huge steps.  Start with the first one, find a location.  What steps do you need to take to get to that point?  Define your space needs?  Look at existing spaces or building sites?  Determine the cost?  Explore ways to pay for it?  Once you start breaking the big step down into smaller steps you can start to define the ACTION that you need to take to get from where you are to where you’d like to be.  One small step at a time.  If a step feels too big, break it down again into smaller ones.

What are the ACTIONS that you need to take in your business?  If you don’t start doing something differently, where will your business be 3 years from now?  In contrast, if you DO start taking ACTION, where could your business be even one year from now?

I look forward to hearing from you in the comments below.

Until next time – Remember to mind your business!

Holly Hanson
Licensed Professional Business Coach
The Business Edge
The Headlights and Guardrails for Your Business

June 26, 2012

7 Keys to Success for Business Owners – Part 1

7 Keys to Success –  Many small businesses are stuck in a state of how.  If you are working hard at the right things, your odds of getting unstuck increase dramatically.  But how do you know what to focus on?  There are seven things that all successful business owners focus on to run their companies

I will introduce you to the 7 Keys to Success and highlight one of the topics in each of the next few blogs.  The 7 Keys to Success are:

Vision
Profit Plan
Marketing Plan
Organization Plan
Leadership
Cash Flow Forecast
Presenting

Vision:  He had been in business a few years when he asked me, “How do I open my second location?  I see 12-15 locations when I’m done, but I don’t know how to open that second one.”  I knew he had the hard part down already.  He knew where he wanted to go!

Where will you and your company be in 3, 5, 10 years?  Can you see it and paint a picture for me in a couple of minutes?  Or are you at a total loss for where you and your business are going, but you work hard week after week and each feels like a repeat of the week before?

Why does it seem so easy for other owners?  What are they doing that you are not?  How do they do it all?  They don’t work any harder than you do.  The answer to these questions starts with knowing where you want to go, your Vision.

Take out a notepad and begin to write your thoughts and draw the diagrams to formulate what your overall vision is for the business.  Get a fairly clear picture so that you could describe it to someone.

Leap forward 3 years from today’s date.  Grab a journal and write that date on the top of a clean page.  Describe where your business is on this future date – 3 years from today – using the present tense, not future tense.  Answer these questions:

What are your offerings?
What does the organization look like?
What is your role in the organization?
What rewards are you enjoying?
Who are you working with?

Keep your journal handy as we work our way through business topics that will be presented in this blog.  I look forward to hearing from you in the comments below.

Until next time – Remember to mind your business!                       Holly Hanosn, Licensed Professional Business Coach

July 27, 2010

Start with Why

Subtitle:  How Great Leaders Inspire Everyone to Take Action…..by Simon Sinek

Have you read this book yet?  I’m not quite finished, but Simon’s perspective resonates with me and I wanted to tell you about the book before I got lost in the next book. 

Think about your most recent contact with a new person at one of your networking events.  When you met and asked them about their business did they tell you WHAT they do?  Did they give you an idea of HOW they do what they do?  Did you get to the point of knowing WHY they do it?

Simon draws three circles, all with the same center.  The largest circle he labels as WHAT.  The next circle toward the center is HOW and the smallest circle  is WHY. 

Every single organization or employee for an organization should know WHAT the business does or WHAT they do for their organization.  HOW they do WHAT they do may set them apart from their competition.  WHY is tougher.  Very few people or companies can clearly articulate WHY they do WHAT they do.  Simon is not talking about making money – that’s a result.  WHY is the purpose, cause or belief.

When most organizations or people think, act or communicate they do so from the outside in, from WHAT to WHY.  It is easiest to do it this way – from clearest to fuzziest. 

As an example in real life, why do people stand in line for hours waiting to be one of the first to own a new version of the iPhone 4 or any other new Apple release? 

Compare these messages and you’ll understand:

Message WHAT-HOW-WHY: 

We make great computers.  They’re beautifully designed, simple to use and user-friendly.  Wanna buy one?

Message WHY-HOW-WHAT: 

Everything we do, we believe in challenging the status quo.  We believe in thinking differently.  The way we challenge the status quo is by making our products beautifully designed, simple to use and user-friendly.  And we happen to make great computers.  Wanna buy one?

There is a lot more to the book……and we’ll be discussing it in the Business Book Club, so grab a copy, start reading, and let me know if you’d like to become a member and join in on the discussion!

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