One of the hardest things for so many of us to learn is delegation. Especially for us founders. At one point or another we were doing everything, and wearing all the hats, and then over time we gradually have to let go of things and hand them over as the business grows.
For some of us it’s the very first hire that’s the hardest.
For others it’s the sneaky things that seem to sit with us even when we’ve hired a bunch of people across different areas of the business… we’re still all up in their faces not wanting to fully let go.
Poor delegation does two things for certain:
1. Sees us working harder than we need to be (and will ultimately lead to burnout if not addressed).
2. Disempowers our team, resulting in them feeling less fulfilled and engaged in their roles with us.
So yeah, both those things suck. And on the other hand effective delegation frees us up to spend more time in our zone of genius, and empowers our team members to step into their own potential. (Read: makes everyone happier!)
Here’s my hacks for staying on top of my situation so I don’t hold onto things longer than I should, and so I ensure my team are set for success:
Habitually scan my To Do list
I usually start a new list on my paper pad at the beginning of each week, so after I’ve done that I’m in the habit of looking for things that could, and should, be done by someone else in the business. What I’m checking for here is the things I’ve been holding on to after I actually have someone else in the business who now owns that role. These are the things I do because “they only take a few minutes and it’s easier if I just do it”. No. It’s not.
Screen record myself doing the task
For anything I find in the above category, and especially those that truly are just small things that only take a few minutes (these are the sneakiest ones to find), I go ahead and do the thing ONE LAST TIME. And while doing it that one last time, I flick on Loom or Claap and screen record myself doing it, and talking through the process at the same time. I then forward on the link to the video for whoever will be doing it moving forward.
Hand it over and trust the learning process
For things that are larger tasks, I’ve learned to just hand them over and trust the person to figure it out. I give as best a description I can, and let them know who they can go to for help (including myself) and let them learn. In most cases I’m handing it to someone because it’s a part of their role, skills and experience, so the learning curve usually isn’t that great (hey, they may even know how to do it better than me).
Quarterly (or monthly) sticky note exercise
Figuring out when to hire a new team member, and delegate a whole lot of our current workload, is something I do at least quarterly but may end up doing monthly soon as we’re growing so fast. I was first shown this years ago using actual sticky notes which is fun, but you can totally do it in a doc if you’re into saving trees (I am).
Dot point, or write on each note, all of the main tasks you do in your role. You can even add to it over a week everytime you do something if you find it harder to capture everything. Once you have everything down, go through each one and create two lists. What you want to keep doing, and what you’d rather not have to do. Whatever’s in the I’d rather not have to do pile can start to form the basis of one (or maybe two) new hires needed. If you feel like you have more than one role, but you’re only in a position to bring on one new person, think about which one is your least desired, and least in your skillset and start with that hire, you also now know which position is likely to come next.
You can do this exercise with the entire team too, maybe at an annual planning day or something, to start to shape the future hiring needs of the organization. This process of planning also helps us to start with the roles needed, and avoid the common trap of hiring a great person who’s on our doorstep and making a role fit around them (very common mistake that almost always ends in misalignment and challenge).
Creating routine and ritual around checking what we may need to delegate and hand off, is incredibly important as we grow. I’d love to hear your own success with this, tips and tricks, and also if you’re stuck on it please reach out, I’d love to support your process with any experiences or advice I can share.
CEO & Founder