The Business Edge Blog

August 1, 2013

Expert Advice on Mastering the Art of 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.”


Let me know how your delegation goes –


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.

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.


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!

June 12, 2012

Technology Tools Help You Run Your Small Business – Part 3 – Time Management Software

Remember the days of being an employee, working for someone else?  Did you ever have a day when you were just counting the minutes until the end of your workday?  If you are like many small business owners, time ticks away at the same rate as it did back then, but before you know it you look up at the clock and you’ve worked far beyond the time you thought you would once again.

Time Management applications may help you manage your work and your day.  First of all let me share a personal pet peeve with you.  I do not believe there is such a thing as “time management”.  None of us can influence the passing of time, so in my mind we can’t manage it.  What we can manage is what we DO with OUR time.  In my book that means doing the right thing – the task that will create the greatest value in your business – as often as possible.  I call it “the critical path”.  If I have something to get done for my business or a client I make a list of the tasks and try to stay focused and avoid distractions.  Every time something comes along to take my attention away from the task at hand I stop to check “is it on the critical path?”  If not, I make a note to get back to it later and get my focus back on “the critical path”.

Back to Time Management Software….find out what it is that you need to help you manage your time and there is probably an application for it.  Many business owners use an electronic calendar and schedule time to do the work they need to get done.  For many if it does not get scheduled it does not get done – and time passes by anyway – so start to schedule time to do your work.  There is also software to create employee schedules, manage virtual to-do lists, generate customer invoices based on the time you spend on a project, and even programs that will block your email notifications for a period of time so those distracting new email notices won’t appear while you are concentrating on something you need to get done.  If you need an application that limits the time you spend on time-wasting websites, there are apps that block your access after you reach a pre-determined daily time limit.

Time Management?  No such thing.  Personal Time Management, absolutely!

What one critical path item would benefit your business the most if you could concentrate on getting it done without interruption?  Does it appear on your to-do list for today?  Is there time actually marked off on your calendar to spend working on it?  What can you do to minimize distractions while you concentrate on getting it done?  Are those things put in place?  OK then, what’s keeping you from doing it?

Share your thoughts and ideas in the comments below.  I look forward to reading them.

The next topic in this series is Social Media.  Stay tuned…..

August 23, 2011

Time Management Lessons From A Little Book

Time Management 101

Eat That Frog! – by Brian Tracy

As a Business Coach I find that many of my clients need help with Time Management.  I’ve found that a little yellow book helps them understand the basics.  Eat the ugliest frog first thing every day.

In less than 120 pages broken into 21 chapters, a topic is presented and exercises provided to implement the concept in your life.  It is not intended to be a quick read.  The process is to read the chapter, determine how it relates to the work you do and complete the exercises.  Then begin to incorporate the concepts into your daily routine.  Is it a magic bullet?  No.  It takes work.  You need to create new habits.  Habits take time.

I find that a great way to be held accountable to actually reading the book, doing the exercises and implementing the concepts is to join a group using the book as the framework.  That is what my Boardroom group is doing.  We meet twice a month.  The homework is to read a chapter or two, do the exercises and report back to the group.  Is it easy?  No, but working together as a group provides support and a place to brainstorm the implementation in your own life.

Is Time Management an issue in your life or business?  Have you found ways to solve your Time Management issues?  Share your comments below.

Interested in joining a virtual group to improve your Time Management skills while being held accountable for doing what it takes to improve your productivity?  Let me know below.

August 16, 2011

The #1 Top Myth of Business Coaching

The #1 Top Myth of Business Coaching…It’s Expensive

Have you ever considered talking to a Business Coach but thought it was too expensive?   It’s the #1 Myth that I hope to dispel.

As a Business Coach I initially meet with potential new clients to determine what their needs are and if I am the right solution for them.  In the initial meeting we work together to clarify their issue and the steps needed to move forward.  Often they are able to clearly see what they need to do at this very first meeting!  They get a “test drive” to see how we might work together in a longer coaching relationship.

If we go forward with more coaching, the goal is to find money in their business through cost savings or generate more money by streamlining procedures or gaining more cash flow through more sales to more than cover the cost of the coaching.

Let’s look at just one example, your cost of marketing.  If you don’t market, you don’t get customers.  But what if the marketing you did was directly targeted to the audience you need to reach?  Those that become your customers.  The payback is much greater when you do the right marketing to the right people.  If a Business Coach helps you to get a better return on your marketing dollar, the cost of the coach is easily covered by the increased results of your focused marketing efforts.

That’s just in the marketing area.  Most Business Coaches work with you on many aspects of your business and help you prioritize where to spend your money most effectively and where to spend your time with the greatest return.  Not expensive, but easily justified by the results you’ll experience.

Possibly one of the best investments you’ll ever make!

Have you thought about working with a business coach?  What is holding you back?  Share your comments here.

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