Updated: May 27
If you want something done right, you gotta do it yourself, right?
It’s the catchphrase of someone who is either surrounded by incompetence or has some serious control issues. Whatever the case, doing it all yourself is a very quick way to burn out, break down and turn a winning business idea into a sinking ship.
Most bosses hate delegating, but the truth is, you don’t always need to be in charge.
Today’s entrepreneur relentlessly pursues their passion and creativity in the face of failure and alongside this unwavering drive, often comes a deep need to control every aspect of their business. Ironically, sometimes the freedom people are searching for is often entangled and confused with a strong desire for control.
However, this deep-rooted need for control can be in direct conflict with success, and at worst, the downfall of your business!
WHAT HAPPENS TO YOUR BUSINESS WHEN YOU LET GO?
In a nutshell, growth! You had a vision and you made it a reality through your existing skillset in combination with sheer determination, talent, courage, and not to mention, countless sleepless nights. You have poured your blood, sweat, and tears into getting your business off the ground, to get to where it is today.
That in itself is an astounding achievement and yet interestingly, the foundations and skillset you built your business upon, are, in actuality, a vastly different skillset to what is required to sustain, plan, and allow for future growth. It takes an incredible amount of self-awareness and courage to relinquish control and get out of the way of the untapped potential, future growth, and success of your own business.
The white-knuckle control that you hold onto with a death grip will ultimately stunt and prevent growth of your business, as well your own development as a leader and your teams’ professional development! Remember, doing one thing well is far more valuable than doing a multitude of tasks badly!
Initially, you needed to be involved in absolutely everything, and while you may be in denial about it, your baby is growing up! The truth is, that there will inevitably come a point where the more you hold on, the more you are holding your company back!
WHY YOU CAN’T DO IT ALL YOURSELF
Many founders believe that they, are the only ones who are truly invested in the success of their business, and no one else understands the business the way they do.
While this is true to a point, a lot of employees are motivated by more than just a pay check.
Trusting your staff with industry secrets, market insights and leaving them responsible for crucial business functions fosters loyalty, a sense of empowerment and encourages your employees to develop professionally.
Both knowledge and vision can and should be imparted to your employees.
SIGNS IT IS TIME TO LET GO
On the third month straight of 18-hour work days, constantly running on empty, you’re probably thinking, “I hope this gets easier soon.”
Sure, you’re turning a decent profit and the hourly rate seems to match the effort you’re putting in, but operating at full capacity can only work for so long
Sadly, there is nothing you can do about it at the moment! You had hired what appeared to be skilled candidates to do the tasks needed, but they let you down one time and now, their workload is back on your accomplished superhuman shoulders! You’re frustrated because you feel like your team just aren’t stepping up or taking any initiative. They clearly aren’t as capable as their CV claimed because you are experiencing a high turnover, obviously they just can’t handle the heat!
You have noticed that you aren’t being efficient or productive with your time, opportunities are flying by or going unnoticed, but regrettably, you are lacking the resources, time, and energy to seize them! So, you dig your heels in to get through workload for the immediate future. Your personal life is suffering while your passion and drive for the business is also dwindling. You no longer have a bird’s eye view of the business because you’re are lumped with the entire operation, but honestly, how are you supposed to get anything done without a team of clones by your side?
Does this sound a little too close to home for your liking? These are some of the signs it is time to let go! What? NO! Surely, this doesn’t apply to your very unique specific set of circumstances! If you don’t do everything at this very juncture in time, everything you built will fall apart, so clearly letting go is not an option! Right?
WHAT LETTING GO LOOKS LIKE?
The idea of stepping back is simply preposterous and no doubt the notion alone, has your heart racing! But it can be done if you dedicate time and energy into to establishing solid foundations so that you can take that extremely deserved break!
WHAT SHOULD YOU DO FIRST?
1. Get down to the details, so you have found yourself in the thick of it all, now is the perfect time to map it out! Take a close and detailed look at your current daily tasks and workflow. This will help you determine the tasks that you absolutely must do and the tasks that could potentially be either automated or delegated. Don’t forget to identify and include any spill over work that you do because it doesn’t fit into anyone else’s position description, but it must be done! The gaps must be filled but thankfully it may not have to be you filling them!
2. Based on the information collated, develop a structured and realistic plan to implement these organisational changes that are needed. It is unlikely that everything on your list will be eligible for automation, so your next challenge is all about people! Invest in your people and they will invest in you in return!
3. What to do with your existing staff? If you are lacking confidence in your team, have you considered that it could be your own ego clouding your judgement or perhaps you have made a bad hire? Provide some one on one training with your employees, you can’t know how much they do or don’t know, if you have never spent any time with them! Spend time with the people you believe should take over your current responsibilities.
Clearly explain your approach to each task, whilst also clarifying your expectations. If the task is complicated, then spend time documenting the process and outline each step or create checklists. A hardcopy reference will help you feel secure and confident that the task can be completed perfectly in your absence and the employee will feel confident to complete the task.
Get your employee to do a few run throughs to identify any problems they may have along the way, guide, and support them through the troubleshooting process. One on one training is essentially providing your staff with the information and tools needed for success! Enabling them to do their job.
At the same time, clearly share the business vision and mission with your team and explain how their contribution is meaningful and invaluable for both the customer and the business. Understanding the business purpose and vision will help your staff make informed and smart decisions and ultimately help them solve problems, with or without your help!
4. It isn’t just about training though, you’ve been irreplaceable up until now and now that you have spent time training and enabling your staff, it is now time to empower them by delegating tasks and trusting them to the job you hired them to do! Trust translates into not micromanaging your team!
If you skip this step and don’t empower your employees, at best, you're failing to leverage the talent you're paying for. At worst, you're giving them a powerful incentive to find a new job--and fast! Your new moto should be “enable and empower”.
5. Brace yourself, because this monumental shift in your behaviour and workplace culture will inevitably result in failure, at times! You will be challenged and in the face of failure you will likely feel an overwhelming need to snatch back the task so it can be done right! This is inherently the wrong way to deal with failures and mistakes!
Embracing failures may initially appear like you are exposing weaknesses or that you will lose face! But despite what you may believe, you yourself aren’t perfect, so what did you previously do when you have made mistakes in the past? Obviously, you took your failures as opportunities to learn, otherwise you wouldn’t be where you are today! You didn’t sweep them under the rug or berate yourself to the point that you couldn’t move forward!
You identified problems that led to the failure, brainstormed alternatives, and implemented the changes needed for success!
So why shouldn’t you extend the same courtesies to your staff? Mistakes and failures can occur at all levels of the organisation, but welcoming failure creates a culture of transparency and trust with your team, fostering a safe environment to acknowledge, own and address these issues, before they become world ending catastrophes!
6. Whether you are looking to replace staff who have left you in the lurch or you are in the process of scaling, you are going to be going through the dreaded hiring process again. Bad hires cost companies’ tens of thousands of dollars which can be devastating to a business. On top of that, a bad hire can diminish staff morale and wreak havoc on the business you worked so hard to build! So, to say that hiring smart is important, is an understatement!
You must have faith in your new hires in order to feel comfortable handing over the reins, so it is crucial to perfect the companies hiring and onboarding process.
· Have the courage to hire the most competent and intelligent people that you can afford. Aim for diversityand balance; while mini-me’s might look like the super stars you are after, they aren’t necessarily going to excel in the areas that you need help in. Some leaders fall into the trap of hiring people who are less talented than them! If you let your fear of personally becoming irrelevant or inferior get in the way of a good hire, then your company will instead become irrelevant, if you only hire people that don’t threaten your ego!
· On top of that, a good hire is also the person you need today, it is not the person you think you will eventually need in five years’ time! The biggest player in the game will be a bad hire if your company is not ready or in need of the skillset and experience on offer!
In summary, your business will never grow and you will cycle through an endless turnstile of employees if you don’t trust and empower them to take some of your responsibility.
Sometimes it’s OK to let go.
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