“Hire people who are better than you are, then leave them to get on with it . . . Look for people who will aim for the remarkable, who will not settle for the routine.”
– David Ogilvy, advertising executive
Business owners are nearly always inherently talented and capable people. Few people fall into owning a business because they are mediocre in any way. You’re talented. Passionate. Gifted. It’s why you are on the way to the top–and it’s precisely why you are in danger of falling.
It’s hard, when you can do so many things, to give up doing any of them. And yet it’s imperative to your success that you do just that. Author and consultant John Baldoni says “If you want to work 160 hours a week, don’t delegate. But you are going to crash and burn.” And it’s true.
Therefore, we must all go through the painful process of learning to delegate. Being a process, it may take time. But, being a process, it also has steps which, if followed, will lead to success.
Let’s look at the first two steps in the delegation process: Deciding what Needs Delegation and Getting the Right People in place. These two things will help you build your business and restore your sanity in the process.
Decide What Needs Delegation
What is it that only you can do? That’s what you need to do. Make a list, and whatever is not on it is what you need to delegate. Someone else can return phone calls. Respond to emails. Keep your books. The list goes on and on. Focusing on your strengths is what got you here in the first place–not your ability to craft a great email or balance the budget. Let someone else handle those and you’ll find that you suddenly have the time and freedom again to use those strengths and skills. It will feel like you have air to breathe again as you get back to what you are most passionate about.
Get the Right Person in Place
Once you know what you’ll be taking off your plate, it will take a little bit of time and trust to establish this one. However, there are ways to greatly expedite the process. If you are hiring a virtual assistant, then using an agency (yes, like us) that has vetted the employee first is well worth the cost. Hiring on your own is an expensive process. Having someone else dedicated to finding qualified candidates saves you from sifting through resumes and interviewing multiple candidates.
Once you have someone who is skilled, you’ll get the biggest bang for your buck by a) investing some time in training them and b) ensuring that what you want is clearly understood.
Training may involve some Zoom calls, some examples of the kind of work you expect, and explanation of the processes you go through to get the results you want. Don’t skip this step. It will save you endless phone calls and corrections down the road.
As far as your expectations go, you need to express them as clearly as you can. What is your vision for your company? What are your short- and long-term goals? What part in those goals do you want your hire to play? How much interaction would you like to have with them? Express them precisely and then have your new employee verify them back to you. This bit of clarity will mean that you both know the end game and are working together to get there.
Sure, there will be some bumps as you get used to managing and as they get used to systems and culture. But you will start strong if you have a clear idea of what you need your assistant to do, and express it clearly to them. Just doing these two things will greatly minimize them and help you along the path to strong delegation skills.
In the next post, we’ll discuss how quality training and feedback strengthen your ability to delegate further.