Is your delegation going in the right direction?

What if your primary responsibility in your business were just to make things up? Then, you’d have a team whose responsibility is to take hold of your vision and make it real. And, if it’s intended to be a regular thing, they make it recur.

That’s how you exponentially multiply your productivity and profitability: by focusing on what you do best and letting other people use their talents to achieve the rest. It also frees up vast amounts of time so you can be with your family and friends, pursue hobbies, and make a contribution to causes that matter to you.

When you build this kind of Self-Managing Company, your team goes from feeling like a burden to being a total support system that extends and rounds out your capabilities.

If that’s not how your business works right now, you’re not alone. A lot of entrepreneurs are extraordinarily gifted at doing a wide range of things themselves, yet utterly frustrated when it comes to getting others to do things the way they want. Is it their fault, or do they have the wrong people on their team? If they could only work this out, they feel, the business would be so much better off — and so would they!

Is your delegation going in the right direction?

If you’re feeling this frustration, it’s possible you may already have a very effective delegation system at work in your business — it just goes in the wrong direction. The first telltale sign of this is that your team members get a lot more time off than you do: They take weekends, vacations, and holidays, and the work just boomerangs back to you. After all, you’re the one who’s always at the office or just a phone call away.

You might argue that you need to set an example. Or that since you make more money, you have to shoulder more of the load. And with your understanding of the business and your high standards, it’s easy to keep resorting to, “Oh, just give it here.”

And thus begins “reverse delegation.”

Doing everything yourself may have been necessary when you were starting out. When you want to grow your business, however, that behaviour will hold you back.

Fortunately, the solution is simple, and begins — like most breakthroughs — with a shift in your thinking. Here are three strategies that break the cycle of reverse delegation and get your team on the road to self-management. Best of all, you can do them with the team you have, and you never have to become a better manager!

1. Give your team the opportunity to fail — as long as they learn from their mistakes.

You’ve always taken risks, made mistakes, and learned from them. So if you want your team members to think and behave entrepreneurially, you have to give them a bit of that same learning space.

When they make a mistake, put the focus on learning from the experience: “What worked? What didn’t work? How can we make this go better next time?” This way, there’s no wasted emotion, no blame, and all their energy goes into their development rather that being wasted on self-defence.

2. Delegate your thinking along with the task.

What’s the point of doing this? What would success look like? When do you need this by? Share your vision, intentions, and judgement criteria along with the task, then let your team members use their own talents and methods to achieve your goal.

You and they will gain confidence in their abilities as you coach and acknowledge them from the sidelines, but they’ll only figure out the game by playing it themselves. They’ll learn and grow just like you did — and if they don’t, you can look at whether their abilities are better suited to another role, or another company.

3. Let them know how much communication you want about this delegation.

You’re a powerful force in your team members’ world, so it’s natural for them to feel intimidated about “bothering” you. You can completely alleviate their fear of getting blasted by making it clear when they should come to you.

For most projects you delegate, you’ll find there are three levels of communication to choose from:

  1. “None. I trust you. Just tell me when it’s done.”
  2. “I’m here if you need my help. Otherwise, just let me know it’s finished.”
  3. “Check in with me at these stages of the process.”

If the stakes are high, the task particularly tough, or the team member new, you can escalate the delegation level and be more involved. Then, gradually, extract yourself as you and your team member gain confidence in their creativity and skill. But the trick remains the same: communicate, delegate, and enable. This allows your team to transform from a burden to be managed into a total support system that multiplies and rounds out your personal abilities.

The better you get at the delegation habit, the closer you get to having a Self-Managing Company. It doesn’t take any more time to use these strategies — in fact, it takes a lot less time than doing every task and project yourself — and all the hours you get back are an opportunity to expand your vision and aim for even greater things.

Dan is the founder of The Strategic Coach Inc. and creator of The Strategic Coach® Program. Visionary, creative, wise, playful, and generous, he is a true champion of entrepreneurs worldwide.