In a previous post, I outlined the importance for executives to stop working “IN” the business more than they work “ON” it. The challenge for most executives, of course, is that in order to back out of day to day tactical work, they need to have a trusted team in place to handle the “IN” work. This is where it gets tricky because the hardest part of delegating “IN” work is trusting that it will be done well. Often times, delegation happens in the thick of stressful time crunched situations where, without proper training, employees will likely fail. And that’s where our mindset needs to change... Because delegation is a short game strategy. Teaching is a long game.
So how to stop delegating and start teaching without it becoming a total time suck? In this short article, Art Markman, a Professor of Psychology and Marketing at the University of Texas at Austin, outlines three easy steps:
1. Spend time focusing on the specific strengths (and weaknesses) of your team and gauge who genuinely wants to move into a leadership role, creating a personal development plan with measurable goals that play to individual strengths and interests.
2. Take on the mindset of a trainer. By thinking of yourself as a trainer, rather than a delegator, you’ll start proactively looking for opportunities to give more responsibilities and tasks to team members that show an aptitude for the work.
3. Allow opportunities for shadowing. Often times I’ll walk an employee through a particular process, asking them to create the initial draft, then reviewing/refining together so they can get a deeper dive into my thought processes.
Lastly if, like me, you fall prey to the mindset that no one is better at doing your job than you, remember the mantra “don’t let perfect get in the way of good enough.”
In order to scale my businesses, I’ve had to let go of inconsequential details that didn’t impact what were ultimately positive business outcomes.
Without a doubt, teaching is more of an effort than delegating. Teaching isn’t just about HOW to do something, it’s about the WHY behind it. WHY takes critical thinking and thoughtfulness. HOW takes practice. When you start making teaching a standard business practice, you not only create an army of trusted employees who can take on more responsibility when work volumes increase or you’re out of the office, you’re also, in essence, creating a line of successors.