Delegation Reluctance


At a follow-up meeting with one of my Master-Mind Alliance members the other day, this frequently mentioned issue, “I am reluctant to delegate,” came up again.


People who are reluctance to delegate do so out of fear, which has been called a Faulty Expectation Appearing Real. They are concerned that those to whom they would delegate tasks and responsibilities will not perform as well as they themselves could, so they try to do it all personally.


Many small business owners spend 10% of the time being in the entrepreneur role–dreaming, considering the future, decision making, planning and seeking control, 20% of the rime being in the manager role–overlooking activities of others, pursuing progress, and striving for order, and 70% of the time being in the technician or worker bee role–focusing on performing routine tasks, one at a time or worse multitasking. I believe this allocation of time is backwards and ought to be reversed. It is far better for a business owner to be behaving like an entrepreneur 70% of the time, like a manager 20% of the time, and like a technician 10% of the time.


When business owners are in technician role too much, then their business runs them instead of the other way around. And eventually they crash and burn. The goal should be to work ON the business more and IN it less. After all, one of the reasons individuals go into business in the first place is to get free of a job so they can create jobs for other people.


To make this flip in how they spend their time, business owners must get over their delegation reluctance. Here’s how.


First, admit that with training and supervision, others can do the work well enough to please customers. Sure, people will make mistakes but very few mistakes are reversible or fatal. In fact, many can be turned into opportunities and every one of them can be a teaching moment. This is the mindset a business owner must have to delegate comfortably.


Second, use some entrepreneurial time to devise a system of reviews, spot checks and controls. Delegation is not an all-or-nothing proposition. For instance, an owner should not completely disengage from the purchasing function simply because he has appointed a purchasing manager. Instead, the owner should create an organized system of routine oversight and spot checks to ensure that work is being executed properly and diligently.


Third, answer these questions: How can my business operate without me? How can others work effectively without my constant supervision? How can I be free from my business? How can I do tasks I love rather than tasks I don’t like doing?


The art of being the owner of a small business involves transitioning from performing every task personally to directing and managing the efforts of others. When an owner masters this skill, there are no limits to how large the business can grow or how successful it can become.


Reflecting on these ideas, it may be apparent that what is to be feared is not delegation but, rather, delegation without tolerance for error and without an operational overview system in place.


Truth is, for growth to happen business owners must delegate and free themselves of a lot of routine matters and spend more time envisioning and behaving like the entrepreneur they were when they started the business.