Get Yourself Out of the Way and Delegate

Founders naturally resist delegating. You should focus on making yourself replaceable early on by building the delegation muscle.

Even if you’re a one-person operation (especially if you’re a one-person operation!) you need to find ways to delegate so you can run your business and not the other way around.

“Anything you do more than twice, there’s a process for,” says business author Ari Meisel.  “And if there’s a process for it, it can almost certainly be automated.”

“Be protective of your time. It’s the only thing we have that we can’t get more of.”

– Ari Meisel

Think big picture and examine systems. Identify tasks and clarify responsibilities. Every project should have clear tasks identified. Break down each project into a series of 15 minute tasks. Then assign tasks and make sure everyone who knows who’s responsible for what and by when.

One of the hardest parts of delegating is managing your team and watching them stumble without interfering and taking the work back over.

Freemium project management software such as Monday, Trello or Asana are great tools to help you manage task delegation.

In The Replaceable Founder, Meisel distinguishes six levels of delegation to master so you can focus on scaling your business.

The Six Levels of Delegation

1. Simple tasks

  • Impact on Control: You have total control over the delegation and the decision making process.
  • Impact on Your Time: This provides absolute control but also requires substantial time on your side.

2. Slightly more complex tasks

i.e. booking a flight for a specific time and place: ie research and report back

  • Impact on Control: You now trust the delegatee to perform a thorough research which you can then safely use to make a decision.
  • Impact on Your Time: You can spend less time on this as the delegatee will help you on the task. However, since you are making the decision, you will still need to go over the details and spend some time on the task.

3. Research that comes with advice

  • Impact on Control: You expect the delegatee to provide recommendations so you only have to use your intuition to confirm the decision rather than carrying the analysis yourself.
  • Impact on Your Time: You spend less time on the task as you don’t have to spend as much time on the decision making process. However, since you retain control, if the need arises you can quickly take over and make sure the task is carried out with the right quality.

4.  Asking someone to start the project but keep you updated each step of the way

  • Impact on Control: You delegate the task and the decision making, but still retain control in going ahead with a decision.
  • Impact on Your Time: You spend only a small amount of time “signing off” the tasks. As you are relying heavily on the delegatee for the analysis and the decision, you can save considerable amount of time.

5.  Hand over decision making ability with some parameters

  • Impact on Control: You now trust the delegatee to research and make a decision so long as it is within the limits that you set.
  • Impact on Your Time: Minimal time is spent by you mainly to define the task and set the parameters. You are holding the delegatee accountable and have significantly reduced the amount of time needed on your side.

and lastly, the level I seem to jump to off the bat…

6. Full authority to another person to handle a task ask they see fit

  • Impact on Control: You have given ultimate control over the task and the decision making process. The delegatee is now accountable and responsible for the outcome and you have made this very clear. This is a high-level delegation and is usually carried out on strategic decision making when delegating to people who have a high level of autonomy and control over their roles.
  • Impact on Your Time: The impact on your time is extremely small. The delegation activity is carried out more as a consultation or a discussion on resources and how decisions could impact other areas of work as oppose to a straight forward delegation activity.

When hiring talent to help you with your systems and processes, pay attention to skill set look for skills, personality and problem solving abilities.  For example, you can weed out applicants by setting up two email addresses jobs@ and interviews@ and specify the applicant email their resume to one and a brief video to the other. Anyone who is not able to follow though on your specific requests should not be considered.

None of this will help you however, if you can’t afford to hire and cover the salary of an assistant or VA for at least 4 months.  Delegating to a competent team player takes time but it’s the only way to go.

Invest more time and energy in training a qualified person to assist with your important tasks and put your newly leveraged time to a higher use.


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