When I talk challenges with SMB owners and leaders in my role as a business coach, I identify most frequently one obstacle. Not competitive threats, not mergers and acquisitions, not vendor relationships, not shrinking margins, not the economy.
It’s effective delegation.
Flipping through the notes from some of my recent Strategy Sessions with executives, I see:
an owner stressed out by service calls that pull him away from researching new products
a CEO asking how he can keep his org’s entrepreneurial spirit alive when he’s not in the room
a startup software developer running point on both coding and customer service, wondering how he can step away from either without the business stepping backwards
Delegation is more than a mindset. It’s a process and a skill. It’s complicated. Multidimensional. And time consuming. No wonder so many SMBs don’t get it right. They either never start down the delegation path or they get distracted and overwhelmed along the way.
I’ve been there. I first spoke about my delegation struggles as an entrepreneur on the main stage of a trade show in 2016 and more recently with Tom Bronson on the Maximize Business Value podcast. My delegation journey has been a combination of practicality and emotion – and I’m committed to sharing what I wish I embraced when I first entered the business world.
A faulty delegation plan typically involves a frustrated manager dumping a job onto a team member, offering a cursory overview of the task, patting them on the back, and then walking away with fingers crossed things will run smoothly. You’re busy and you’re paying them to do the job – that’s how businesses work, right?
The best practice is to slow down and follow The 5 Steps to Effective Delegation: Systemize, Integrate, Delegate, Monitor, Move.
Systemize: Design an effective system or procedure for completing the task.
Integrate: Integrate the system/procedure into your skill set. Perform the task enough that you are good at it – you’ve worked out the bugs and confirmed it accomplishes the desired effect.
Delegate: Teach it to someone else within your organization. Let them watch you do it well.
Monitor: Observe them performing the task using your system/procedure. Make sure they are proficient before you stop monitoring closely. Develop reports and/or a check-in system that will allow you to monitor from a distance.
Move: Move on to your next initiative with more freedom to continue the growth of the business.
Don’t rush through these five steps; each step must be executed thoroughly. The faster you work through the first stages, the less complete those steps will be, and then the longer the last stages will take. And if you rush through all five steps, you’ll find yourself frustrated because you’re not achieving your outcomes which will catapult you back to step one.
Do those scenarios sound familiar? I’m guessing they do because all leaders seeking to increase their business value have struggled with delegation at one point (or more) during their career.
The 5 Steps are easy to execute for simple tasks. But complex tasks – especially those that are a combination of procedure and performance – have a much higher failure rate. Let’s map out a detailed example of the 5 Steps framework through a common SMB task: delegating sales. The list below isn’t complete, but it should help jump start your process.
Enter contacts and related data into your CRM system
Complete sales-related online courses
Write down your sales philosophies, most effective sales pitches, and testimonials
Organize that information into a sales playbook
Develop a scorecard that helps determine if a sales call was a success
Use the sales playbook to prepare for and execute your sales calls
Use the scorecard to analyze your calls
Update your playbook and modify your CRM system as necessary
Track the effectiveness of those systems; write down success stories and add them to your playbook
Task the new sales rep to complete appropriate sales-related online courses
Prior to each sales call, meet with your new rep to explain your plan and the “why” behind it
Make sales calls together with you leading the conversation; request that your new rep take notes during the sales call and complete the scorecard afterwards
After each sales call, meet with your new rep to analyze the call, explain why you did what you did, review the scorecard, and answer their questions
Repeat this process so the new rep is exposed to a variety of sales calls
Follow the same process in Delegate, except the rep is the one explaining their plan, leading the call, and explaining their actions during your post-call meeting; you’re the one taking notes during the call, interjecting only when absolutely necessary, and completing the post-call scorecard
Ask the rep to adjust the sales playbook where appropriate
Review the notes they have entered in CRM
Monitor their performance through CRM dashboards and/or ask the rep to submit appropriate sales reports to you
Create a schedule for when you will review reports (weekly, bi-weekly, monthly, quarterly)
Focus your time on your highest and best use as your organization’s leader
Your focus throughout the 5 Step process should be permanent delegation of the task to that team member. Provide them the “long version of the story” so they fully understand the situation and can apply principles/best practices in the future. Resist the temptation to short circuit the delegation process by taking over the job. Even if you delay making a sale or miss out on a sale altogether, your business will be better off long-term if the team member learns from the experience.
Don’t wait until next year … or the year after … or the year after that … to run your business correctly. Start delegating today.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Since 1999, Jim Roddy has educated business and non-profit leaders (and future leaders) through books, national magazine articles, podcasts, and presentations at national conferences. Jim is one of the most popular speakers in the technology industry because of a presentation style that is “infotaining” — a combination of informational and entertaining. Jim is author of The Walk-On Method to Career & Business Success and Hire Like You Just Beat Cancer. In addition to being published by Entrepreneur and Nasdaq, Jim has been recognized as one of the world’s Top 100 Retail Influencers by RETHINK Retail, a Leading CannaTech Influencer by 420MSP, and is host of the award-winning RSPA Trusted Advisor
podcast. Jim can be reached at Jim@JimRoddyCBA.com.