Delegate Your Way to Success

I’ve been teaching a unit on delegation in the Goldman Sachs 10,000 Small Businesses program for the past five years. The obvious conclusion is that entrepreneurs like you can benefit a lot from effective delegation and so can the staff picking up those delegated tasks.

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    So, let’s get your hands around the art and science of delegation with the summary of answers to three of the discussion questions from that class.


    Question 1: Why don’t entrepreneurs and small business owners delegate?

    Lots of reasons and they all seem logical at the time:

    •  No one can do it better, faster, cheaper or smarter than you can, so why bother delegating?
    • It takes more time to delegate the task than to do it yourself.
    • If you want it done right or right now, then do it yourself.
    • No one to delegate to—you don’t have competent people or those you can trust enough.
    • You don’t want to give up power or authority.
    • You like doing the task—it’s fun, or at least enjoyable. It makes you feel good and compensates a little for all the things you have to do that you don’t like.
    • And a major reason most people won’t admit—you don’t know how to delegate.

    Question 2: So, why should you delegate more often?

    What are the benefits of delegating? Glad you asked! Consider:

    • If you spend too much time working in your businesses, you can’t be spending enough time working on your businesses. And that’s where real innovation, growth and improvements come from.
    • If you’re doing too much, you’re too involved in the daily operations and the business can’t survive without you. Therefore, you can’t sell it or leave it to your kids.
    • Owners can’t do everything equally well. You should spend most of your time on the most important tasks of running the business, like visioning, planning, customer relationship building and being the face of the business. The other tasks can and should be delegated in part or in whole.
    • Delegation is a great way to develop skills on your bench and give junior level staff a change of pace and focus. And some of them will likely do the task better than you could anyway.

    Question 3: What Best Practices make delegating work?

    Once you realize that providing your staff with additional responsibility is a good call, how do you put it into practice. Here are some tips:

    •  Stop using the excuses in question No. 1 and embrace the wisdom and reality of the reasons in question No. 2.
    • Commit to making task analysis, process improvements and delegation all critical strategies for your organization.
    • “You can’t manage what you don’t measure,” asserted management guru Peter Drucker years ago. So, consider time a rare and valuable resource and measure how well you use it.
    • Have each key manager log his or her time use in 15-minute increments during different days in different weeks. List incoming calls, texts or emails separately and then analyze the results.
    • Embrace process mapping—identify major processes critical for the operation of the business and have each person involved in that process map it or list step by step how he or she does it.
    • Share the maps in a group meeting, merge the various steps and create a composite best practice procedure for that process. Document it, create job aids for training new people on it and evaluate performance effectiveness and efficiency against the procedure.
    • Use the “Urgent/Important” matrix where each task is evaluated according to how urgent and important it is. Low urgent/important tasks are potential for eliminating or delegating. High urgent/important tasks deserve more emphasis.
    • Another method is to assign an arbitrary value for your time—a high dollar/hour amount. Then, create three groups of tasks:
      • 1. Those for which you are paid too much—a high probability for dumping or delegating.
      • 2. Those for which you are paid fairly—keep doing them.
      • 3. And most importantly, those tasks for which you are not paid enough.These represent your best and highest use, so spend more time and effort on them, the result of delegating or dumping the lower value items.
    • You get what you ask for and model, so start small and simple by effectively delegating to your subordinate staff.
    • Teach them how to do it right. If you don’t know how, hire a specialized consultant who can help you.
    • You get what you reward, so make effective delegation part of their written performance objectives and include factors affecting their salary increases.

    As you’ve seen, effective delegation is both an art and a science. Properly done, it generates significant value for your team, your organization and yourself. And don’t tell me it won’t work—until you can tell me it didn’t work.

    Phil Stella runs Effective Training & Communication ( www.communicate-confidently.com440 449-0356) and empowers business leaders to communicate confidently. Stella is a COSE Ambassador, Resource Network  Expert, Content Committee member and frequent speaker at the Small Business Conventions. A popular trainer and executive coach on workplace communications and sales presentations, he is also on the Cleveland faculty of the Goldman Sachs 10,000 Small Businesses Initiative.  

    Next up: Destination Unstoppable For Small Businesses

    Destination Unstoppable For Small Businesses

    Business Growth Boot Camp: Destination Unstoppable - The Journey of No Teammate Left Behind speaker Maureen Electa Monte talks about success from her Destination Unstoppable® program.

    My two favorite client groups are small businesses and sports teams because they share so many characteristics! They are hungry. They are nimble. They are energized. They care about finding the right people and placing them in a role to succeed. Leaders and employees are eager to help the team achieve goals. My Destination Unstoppable® program and the needs of small businesses and sports teams overlap nicely, so you can imagine my excitement when I had the chance to combine the two!

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    Maximizing Team Talent
    A co-owner of a services-based business had a son on the Cranbrook Hockey team that I was working with. We met to discuss my program and how it improves team chemistry. Even though this business was already extraordinarily successful, like an elite sports organization, they wanted to perform to their full potential. This company had experienced rapid growth and had added locations. People were beginning to feel a bit disconnected from one another. We agreed to tackle that common business problem by deepening the sense of connection between partners, the leadership team, and branch site managers. There were 11 people in the initial work group.

    We began by measuring the strengths of the team. This important step helps us indentify and harness talent on the team, and there is always untapped and misunderstood talent on a team. I use the Clifton StrengthsFinder® so that we gain insight into how people think (and we can’t see how you think – this is an important value proposition for clients in fields where mental horsepower drives a competitive edge), execute tasks, relate and influence others. I conducted individual coaching sessions with each participant so that they could build a performance strategy founded in self-awareness, and review what success looked as individuals and as a team.


    Aligning Talent and Success
    Shortly thereafter, we had a full day retreat to reveal the strengths of the team as a group and to strengthen the bonds of teamwork. The day was full of laughter and “aha’s!” as the partners and employees saw the strengths of their colleagues. The partner with his foot on the gas (a strength called Activator) was face to face with the partner who provides a brake (a strength called Deliberative). Often at odds in meetings, they now understood why. Let’s face it – when we buy a car, we want both a gas pedal and a brake. Both are valuable when used appropriately! Similar examples associated with differences in thinking, relating, executing, and influencing were revealed.

    As we explored the answer to the question, “What does success look like for this team?” the conversation was lively and constructive. All voices were heard. Each person spoke about alignment between their natural strengths and success for the team, and new ways to contribute were revealed.

    The feedback forms were insightful with 100% of the team agreeing that the coaching and workshop were valuable and would make the team more successful. Comments included:

    • Now I know why I can’t leave tasks halfway done.

    • Now I understand why I get so frustrated with the pace of change (or lack thereof!) in this company.

    • This really helped me to understand the things that motivate my teammates and why they excel in their respective roles.

    • I know who I can go to for help.

    • Loved this workshop! I knew I worked with an amazing team but today proved that (the company) wants the best for us and my team.

    Today, this business continues to grow and we’re moving on to a similar project with all 45 employees.

    Is Your Company Unstoppable?
    When you join us for our Destination Unstoppable Boot Camp, you and your teams will:

    a) Learn your strengths. The registration fee includes a code for the Clifton StrengthsFinder. When you take it, it will return your top 5 patterns of excellence and provide a customized report.

    b) Learn what your results mean and how you can align your strengths with success.

    c) Discover team talent that was undervalued, misunderstood or underutilized.

    d) Learn next steps to maintain momentum.

    I want to make one more important point. Destination Unstoppable is not a place; it is a shared mindset. It is a heightened energy derived from a unified group that deeply understands and believes in how good they are. It’s a team firing on all cylinders.

    Let’s work together to get your team on the path to Destination Unstoppable and stay there!

    The Business Growth Boot Camp: Destination Unstoppable - The Journey of No Teammate Left Behind will be held on Thursday, June 22nd. Click here if you'd like to register for the event.

    Gallup®, StrengthsFinder®, Clifton StrengthsFinder®, and each of the 34 Clifton StrengthsFinder theme names are trademarks of Gallup, Inc. Destination Unstoppable® is a trademark of Maureen Monte Consulting, llc. All rights reserved.

    Next up: Expert Insights - Be a Leader

    Expert Insights - Be a Leader

    COSE recently reached out to members of its Expert Network to address questions related to his or her field. Featured today is Jim Smith, The Executive Happiness Coach.

    COSE recently reached out to members of its Expert Network to address questions related to his or her field. Featured today is Jim Smith, The Executive Happiness Coach.

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    What aspect of leadership do your clients struggle with most and why?

    Easy question: doing instead of Leading


    If you’re like most leaders, you started your career in the trenches. As you worked your way up, your early successes were about doing a job well. If you founded the company, you were the production, service, and sales departments. Even if you began as a supervisor, you likely managed front-line associates and served as backup worker during peak times. 

    Now you hold a leadership role, but a conversation you still carry in your head is, “I can do X better than others.”  Stop that! You hired them to do the work and solve the problems—they need you to provide inspiration, coaching, and leadership!

    When you hear yourself saying, “I don’t have time to manage people,” that’s a huge red flag that signals misaligned priorities. Try this exercise: Write down everything you do, then ask, “What should be getting done by someone else?”

    When I started coaching Jack, he was stuck in a direct consulting role and unable to achieve Partner status. To help him bridge the gap between doing and leading, we created an image of him on an actual bridge. He’s holding onto ropes of various lengths attached to either end.  He can only hold so many ropes, and in order to step forward and pick up a new one on the leading side, he must hand off something from the doing end to someone else. 

    What's one thing business leaders can do to balance a happy home life with a happy work life?

    The one thing business leaders can do to happily balance work and home life is to Focus. Life/work balance is not about time—it’s about how “present” you are during the time you have.

    The core issue for most people is a lack of boundaries between their two roles. Technology makes work-at-home possible, but the downside is it’s always pinging itself into your awareness.

    Follow the advice of Frozen’s Queen Elsa, and “Let it Go” every so often.  If you are distracted or stressed, time you spend with kids can actually be detrimental.  What they need most from you is to be fully present. Studies show quality of time is far more important than quantity. When you are with your family, especially kids, strive to be fully present.

    Eat dinner together. Have conversation. Read with them. Do activities. Even if it’s a short time, you’re creating memories and connections built on significant moments, not on duration.  You will feel more balanced and everyone will, in the end, feel happier. 

    Next up: Getting Your Team on Board

    Getting Your Team on Board

    The staff of your small business is your most valuable asset. How do you go about engaging your staff and ensuring they are on board for all of the success you have planned? Here are some resources to help.

    The staff of your small business is your most valuable asset. How do you go about engaging your staff and ensuring they are on board for all of the success you have planned? Here are some resources to help:

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    Next up: Giving advice to the younger you

    Giving advice to the younger you

    During COSE's Annual Meeting on February 24, we asked attendees: "If you had 30 seconds or less to give advice to the younger you as they were embarking on their business career, what would you say?"

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    Next up: 'Good Food, Good Content, Good Conversation': COSE Members Explain the Value Behind the COSE Annual Meeting

    'Good Food, Good Content, Good Conversation': COSE Members Explain the Value Behind the COSE Annual Meeting

    In the lead up to the 2018 COSE Annual Meeting later this month, we will be running a series of stories focused on what attendees are hoping to get out of this year’s event and the lessons they’ve learned from previous Annual Meetings. Read on below to learn what attendees took away from the 2017 COSE Annual Meeting.

    The COSE Annual Meeting represents a unique opportunity for you to make connections and attend educational sessions that will contribute to the growth of your business. But don’t take our word for it. See below for what attendees of the 2017 Annual Meeting had to say about their experience.

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    Why did you register for the 2017 COSE Annual Meeting?


    Keith Ashmus, Frantz Ward LLP: It’s always about the people. Renewing friendships; getting new ideas; finding other professionals who are going through the same trials and tribulations; making new contacts; and getting psychic nourishment from the creative vibe of all those small business owners in one place.

    As for what I was able to take away, I learned that it is always important to have a vision and have fun trying to make that vision a reality.

    What value do you find in connecting with other COSE/Greater Cleveland Partnership members at events such as Annual Meeting?

    Mireille Wozniak-Michalak, Petiole HR: I was so busy during 2017 that it became difficult to keep in touch with my colleagues. Attending the Annual Meeting was my chance to say hello to these people and to remind myself to make time to meet with my fellow COSE members. COSE Annual Meeting is also an opportunity to be introduced to someone new.

    I’m also looking forward to learning about what COSE has accomplished on behalf of business owners such as myself and its priorities for 2018.

    What would you say to someone who is on the fence about whether to register for the 2018 COSE Annual Meeting?

    Alex Gertsburg, The Gertsburg Law Firm

    I would tell them that the events COSE and GCP put on, like the Annual Meeting, have really helped me personally increase my connections with fellow members and business owners. It’s also chock full of education and I have made friendships at events like this that I still keep to this day.

    Beyond that, I always have a good time. Good food, good content, good conversation.

    Swing on by the 2018 COSE Annual Meeting and get unique insights on leadership strategies and how to build a winning team from the Indians’ Terry Francona, Tom Hamilton and Paul Dolan. Click here to register today!