That said, the argument I hear most commonly for not wanting to delegate tasks in your business – and I’ve been guilty of this in the past too – is that you’re the best person to do it, or maybe you don’t have the time and money to train someone else. What I’m sharing with you today are 10 key steps to ensure that when you do delegate, it’s going to be done right every time and your business is going to thrive.
Tune in this week to find out how you might be holding your business back by doing everything in your business yourself. I’m giving you the perfect tool that is going to help you recreate yourself as the CEO you’ve always dreamt of being.
You are listening to The Design You Podcast with Tobi Fairley, episode number 72.
Welcome to The Design You Podcast, a show where interior designers and creatives learn to say no to busy and say yes to more health, wealth, and joy. Here is your host, Tobi Fairley.
Hey friends. How are you? I like episode number 72. That’s one of my favorite numbers. Maybe it’s because I was born in 1972, believe it or not. 72 is a good year and it’s a good episode for the podcast.
So today we’re going to talk about delegating the right way. And the reason this is on my mind is because I’m working on getting a lot more day-to-day duties off my plate in my own life and in my own business, and getting more over to my amazing – and I mean amazing – team.
So why am I doing this? Well, a lot of reasons. First reason, I’m at year 20 in my business. Kind of tired of doing some of the things. Let’s just be honest. I’m kind of tired of some of it. Number two, even in the newer parts of my business, which I absolutely love, there are tasks, jobs, duties, support that goes with everything from my Design You coaching program, to my life coaching content and consulting work, to this podcast, there’s just lots of stuff that don’t have to be done by me.
So the more that I can have other people doing some of that stuff at the same level I would do it or even better than I would do it, then the more I can do new stuff or different stuff, or more of something that’s making us more money than everything else, or something that we decide is more valuable, or something completely outside of work if that’s what I want to do.
And then I can spend my time only on the things that can be done by no one else but me. Now, there’s a ton of stuff I do, and if I’m perfectly honest, a whole, whole, whole, whole bunch of it could be done by someone else and maybe even done better, and we’re going to talk about that.
Now, the third reason that comes to mind that I’m doing this is I want even more time than I’ve previously freed up with all of my changes and work on myself and my mindset and creating white space, I want even more white space to spend time with my daughter and on my health and wellness, and believe it or not, again, believe it or not, there’s a lot of things that seem unbelievable to me in this podcast today, and they kind of are. That’s why I’m saying that.
But I want to spend some time on some hobbies. Now, those people who know me know I’m really good at a lot of things but it’s not that often that I make time for hobbies or activities. Things that aren’t related to work that don’t have some big deadline or a monetary result or outcome or anything like that associated with them and I want some more time for that.
Because I think it would be good for me. I think it’d be good for my mind. I think it’d be good for my type A personality, and I want to give it a try. And until I make more time in my schedule, that stuff’s not happening. And those are only three reasons. There are so many more and you may have similar reasons or different reasons, but you may be on the same page as me that you think it’s important that you learn how to delegate.
And I think it’s important that we all learn this and I mean, really delegate, but what a lot of you have been doing in your life and your business, you may think it’s delegating and it might not really be delegating. So I’m going to tell you today how to delegate the right way to benefit you and your team and your business the most, and your family in the process. So let’s get to it.
So I believe that there are 10 key steps to effective delegation that I have learned from other people and some I figured out myself, and I’ve put them together and we use this and I teach this to people that I coach on how to delegate really well. Now, before we get to those 10 steps, I want to talk about some of our thoughts, our beliefs, our mindsets and a few other things that keep us from being good delegators.
So a lot of times I hear people say I’m a terrible delegator or some people I hear say oh, I’m a really good delegator but they don’t realize they’re making a whole lot of mistakes and kind of creating issues with their delegating and it’s causing more trouble than it’s really benefitting them. So they may be confused because they’re thinking I’m a really good delegator but why am I not getting the results I’m after?
So that’s sort of two sides of the same coin, that you either falsely believe you’re a terrible delegator or you falsely believe you’re a really good one. Either way, they’re just thoughts. Nothing wrong with either one of them, but I want you to get some clarity today on where you stand with that belief system and what it’s doing for your ability to actually delegate.
And then this is probably the one that I hear the most. I hear a ton of people say that the reason they are bad delegators is that they are control freaks and so they hang on to everything themselves. And if they don’t say control freak, they say I’m a perfectionist so I just do everything myself. Either way, all the same thing and all a big issue when it comes to delegating and really running your business and your life effectively.
Now, here’s what I know about things like that. Thoughts like that. There’s a whole lot of mindset stuff happening in those statements and first of all, I want you to see that if you think I’m a bad delegator, or if you think I’m a good delegator, either way, it’s just a thought. There’s no truth in either one of them unless you believe that there is.
So in other words, if you believe you’re a terrible delegator, I want you to see you can just totally unbelieve that. You can stop believing that right now today. You may think, you know, I’m learning to be a good delegator. Choose a thought that opens you up to consider these steps that I’m going to teach you in this podcast.
I also know that what the belief of control freak really means or even perfectionist really means is that you’re probably doing one of the following, and so you just slap that sticker control freak or the label perfectionist on top of the way you’re choosing to I guess run your life or your business and it’s really holding you back.
So this is what control freak or perfectionist are really code word for. Number one, they’re code word a lot of times for I’m disorganized. So I’d like to delegate but if I admit the truth, I’m disorganized and so I’m constantly flying by the seat of my pants and by the time I need something done, it’s too late to delegate so I just have to do it myself. So we call that control freak or perfectionism a lot of times.
Here’s number two about that. A lot of times, you’re just afraid of making mistakes and you’re also afraid of other people making mistakes, so there’s a lot of fear wrapped up in control freak. And there’s a million mistakes you could make if you were going to delegate. You could hire the wrong person to delegate. You could overpay that person to delegate. You could not tell them enough information and they could get it wrong. They could do it terribly and not run it by you and take it straight to a client or a customer and cause you an issue.
And all of those I get are legit excuses in a sense, but I want you to see that almost never does that stuff come to fruition just like all the fears we have in our life. Fear and worry pretends to be necessary but it’s not, and it’s usually just worst-case scenario thinking that never happens, and if you use my 10 steps, it’s less likely to happen.
But I want you to see is control freak or perfectionist for me code word for disorganized or afraid? Maybe it’s code word for a third thing, which is scarcity mindset, meaning you have scarcity mindset about time, or about money. So you’re afraid to hire people or because of the money, or you’re afraid to hire people because of the time it will take you.
A lot of times we tell ourselves this myth of it’ll take longer to teach someone to help me than to just do it myself. And I used to practice this, and my mom would call me out on it all the time, and thank goodness she did because what she taught me was that old adage of it’s better to teach someone to fish so that they can keep fishing for themselves, otherwise you have to do all the fishing.
And it actually goes something like teach a man to fish, he can fish for a lifetime. You know what I mean. There’s like, catch a fish, you feed a person one, teach a man to fish, he can feed himself for a lifetime or something to that effect. But the whole point being that when we believe we don’t have time, energy, money to go ahead and teach someone to do something for us, guess what, we just got to keep fishing every day, and the fishing gets really tiring.
That’s why I’m tired of doing some of that stuff for the last 20 years and I really want to go back, even though I’m a pretty good delegator, and do a whole other kind of spring cleaning or summer cleaning of all of our task and duties, especially the ones on my plate and see what else can be passed down to somebody else.
But if you have scarcity around time and being able to train someone or around money and being able to pay for someone to help you, guess what, you’re going to still call yourself control freak and keep doing it all yourself. It’s not going to help your or your business at all. In fact, it’s going to hurt you. It’s going to hold you back.
And then there’s one other thing that a lot of people do that’s related and that is that control freak or perfectionism really is code word for I’m operating my business on a shoestring, that I don’t have the money to pay for someone, or at least I don’t believe that I do. Not around scarcity, but I’m looking at the bank account and it’s not in there.
And so if you’re operating your business on a shoestring all the time and maybe the flipside of that is you’re not making any money in your business and you’re like, well how in the world can I hire someone? And I get that one. I really do, but if you don’t change your mindset around control freak or perfectionist, get out of your own way, which we’re going to talk about today, and use your time doing the things that make you money, then you’re never going to be able to afford that person and it’s just going to be this continuous cycle of you considering all of your work, thinking about delegating it, saying you’re a control freak, and then doing it yourself and you’re going to be exhausted.
So these four conditions or habits are really what we use to fool ourselves into that idea of it’s better to do it yourself. And here’s some other sort of beliefs that fall into or are best friends with that belief, it’s better to do it myself. We also tell ourselves I’m better at doing this than other people, and that’s not always true either.
And yeah, we are experts as owners of our business and in our field a lot of times, but we’re not being honest if we believe that there’s truly no one that’s as good as or better than us. And so when you have those kinds of thoughts, better to do it myself and I’m better than everyone else anyway, and I probably wouldn’t even get the results I want if I hired someone since I’m better than all of them, and I have high standards and I just want stuff done a certain way and I don’t want to have to clean up their mistakes and I don’t have time for it.
And you know, the list goes on and on and on. Those are a lot of thoughts that are holding us back and keeping us stuck in control freak mode, perfectionist mode, and not moving us to the place we want to be financially with work-life balance or with a lot of our other goals.
So, I want you to see that not a single thing that I’ve talked about so far in this episode in the mindset category is the truth. And it is better to train people to do something well for you if it doesn’t have to be done by you so that you can scale your business, or so you can maximize your time and your money. And if you do teach someone to do it right in the beginning, you truly can relieve yourself from ever having to do this job again. Ever.
And I bet if you let that sink in for a minute, there’s a whole lot of jobs. You could probably fill up several pages of jobs that you would absolutely love to get rid of forever and I’m telling you that that’s totally possible. So if you hire the right people and most of the things you’re hanging on to applies to this statement right here, if you hire the right people, there are definitely people who are not only as good as you but actually better than you at many tasks that are currently on your to-do list.
And this would allow you to do what I call staying in your zone of genius. And in your zone of genius, those things that really you are the best person for the job, that should be your sweet spot. Those should be the things that make you the most money and that actually pay for a lot of these other people.
So, in other words, if you hire the right people, they essentially help you and them pay for themselves to do that job for you. Now, when you hang on to too much stuff that could have been delegated, and I’m guilty of this, it kind of sneaks up on you sometimes. You’ll hand a bunch of stuff off, and before you know it, some of them have come back. I call that boomeranging. Those boomerang tasks. Maybe that person left or something else happened, or new tasks came up.
You decided to do new things and you filled your list up again, and maybe you were the person to do those in the beginning, but once you got it all set up and now you all know how it works in your business, it totally could be passed on. If you’re hanging on to all that stuff, you are absolutely fooling yourself that your quality of work on the things you are doing is really, really good.
And here’s what I mean. If we have way too much to do, not enough time to do it in, we’re not letting anyone help us, what starts to happen? Well, we’ve all been there. It feels like cramming for a college exam. I remember this feeling more times than I want to admit. When you hang on to all that stuff, you end up cranking out subpar work often at the last minute because you don’t have any other minutes, as in the night before or even the morning of, or five minutes before a client walks into your conference room.
And when you’re doing that, there’s almost 100% guarantee that outsourcing those tasks would have been a better choice for everyone involved, and would have led to a better outcome. So again, we’re lying to ourselves when we’re like, well I’m way better at them at doing this. Well maybe in theory you are, but if you can’t get to it until the night before or the morning of and you put yourself in a time crunch and you’re exhausted and overwhelmed, and you think of 10 other things you should have done but you don’t have time to do them now because you’re at the last minute, is that very good work? Of course not.
And what a lot of people could do could be better than that level of work. So I just want you to be really honest with yourself here. The reason I can point this out is because I’ve been guilty of it many, many times. And then the next thing that I want you to know about before I give you the steps is that even if you do finally get to the point where you want someone else involved with you and you want to delegate, a lot of times this only happens at the last minute.
So on that night before or the day before, or a couple of days before, even the morning of, when we can see the truth that we’re not going to get it all done, that is when we seem to scramble and be like okay fine, y’all have got to help me do this and at that moment, what happens is not delegating but rather abdicating or what I prefer to call dumping.
And there’s a big problem with dumping because when you’re at that point of overwhelm, the kinds of thoughts you’re thinking are I don’t even care who helps me, just get me a warm body, anybody that can help me, and it’s not really true. That’s not really how you feel, but you know you’ve backed yourself into a corner and you don’t have another choice.
So you even say things like I don’t even care how you do it, just get it done, just pick out a sink if you’re an interior designer like me, just pick out a sink or get me a sofa or go find a trim, I don’t even care what it is. Just get something, the client will be here in a minute. Just take it, I’m burned out, I’m tired, and I need help.
So you’re waving that white flag. Well, that is when dumping happens every single time or if you prefer to call it abdication, but it has a negative result. And the weird thing about dumping or abdicating is that the I don’t even care what you select is only true in that moment but guess what, when they bring you the thing they selected, when you’re sitting in the presentation and you look up and see it on the board or you see it – if you have some other business and it’s in your presentation or your PowerPoint, or the client sees it and you’re like, oh my gosh, I did care.
Guess what? Then you’re frustrated all over again and you start to think thoughts to yourself like I knew I should have done this myself, and then you take the job and all the future versions of that job back onto your plate and the cycle of not properly delegating starts all over again.
Now, a lot of this concept is described in a really good book that I read years ago called The E-Myth Revisited by Michael Gerber and every time I think of this example of abdicating, I always have this little bell go off in my head that’s like, oh yeah, they talk about that in The E-Myth. So you might want to check out that book. It’s a really good one.
But I just want you to see that it’s sort of this train wreck of a cycle and of a lot of internal drama, thought drama, pain and agony that we create with our beliefs that we’re the only person that can do this, that really sabotage the whole process. When in reality, we could have delegated this from the beginning, way ahead of time to the right people with the right information and had a good night’s rest the night before, for weeks before.
We could have been leaving work at a decent hour, not working until midnight every night. And we could have had a result, an outcome, a presentation, no matter whatever the thing is that we’re working towards that we’re really happy with, that we’re really pleased with. So I don’t know about you but I want to work in a situation, in a state that’s not frantic, that’s not panicky, that’s not angry, that’s not full of drama, that’s not subpar as far as our work and our outcomes goes. I’m just not cut out for living in that kind of cortisol pumping, last minute, flying by the seat of my pants situation.
And a lot of you also falsely tell yourselves that that’s how you work best. You’re like, I work best under pressure, I procrastinate until it’s the last minute, but it’s not because I’m procrastinating, my best ideas come late at night or my best ideas come at the last minute. And I want you to see that those are just thoughts, they’re not the truth either, and you absolutely can train yourself to do things ahead of time and do them better ahead of time.
You absolutely can train yourself to have the ideas weeks ahead of time if you believe that you can, and then you would have time to delegate and your quality of life could really start to soar. So now that we know all the mindset stuff and all of the sort of lies that we tell ourselves, false beliefs, thoughts that aren’t serving us all around this whole delegating concept, let’s talk about the steps and then we’re going to talk about a couple of other things.
So what is a good delegator to do, I say, when I think about this? Well, I suggest that far in advance of the last minute, you get those right team members in place and I highly suggest you consider some contract team members like a virtual assistant, and sometimes I know maybe a virtual assistant’s not the right person if it’s some very industry specific work, but you’d be surprised how you can do contract labor or other types of arrangements for people to help you because you may not need help all that time, and that may be one of your excuses.
Well, I don’t have enough work for a full-time employee so I’ll just keep doing this all myself and again, that kind of thinking leads to the same problems where if you consider all of the opportunity to hire someone for a small amount of time that could be a really quality player on your team. And trust me, I have 15 team members right now and only two of them are actual full-time employees. And everyone else is contract, so I know this really well.
You can definitely do it, so get those people in place first and then try these effective steps for delegation. So step number one, provide all information required to complete the job. Now, a lot of us don’t do that. We just dole out a tiny bit of information and we have all these kind of minions that might be working for us doing this and that that I call tasking. So they can’t really help you finish anything, and I’m going to talk about that later after I give you the steps.
It’s going to be really important, but I just want you to see that if you want people to fully own a portion or all of a situation, a part of a job, maybe a task but maybe an outcome, then you have to give them all the information that is required to do a good job and that’s going to take a little more work from you on the frontend.
Now, your brain may balk at that and that’s the very time that you’re going to be like I don’t have time to do this, but I want you to understand that if you do that on the frontend, it might take you 15 minutes, it might take you an hour, it could take you two hours, but I want you to see that it might save you five times that or 50 times that on the backend.
So it’s really important that you understand and kind of be onto yourself if you start thinking I don’t have enough time for this, or you just want to give a little bit of information and let them get started, that’s not going to work for effective delegation. So give people all the information they need and it needs to be written down. And that’s another step in a second, but I just want you to start to see it’s not just in your head. You’re not just talking it out loud. It needs to be organized.
The second step is you can’t delegate jobs that require your special knowledge or judgment because if it requires that, it’s not really delegation. Now again, I’m going to give you some more information in a minute after the steps that are going to clarify that for you. But number one, you do need to give them all the information but if you start giving them that information and you’re like, oops, here’s some stuff that has special information that’s required for me or special judgment required from me, probably not going to be able to delegate that job.
Maybe I can delegate a task or two and that can help, but you’ll see in a few minutes when I talk to you about this thing called deciding that if you only are delegating tasks, it’s not really delegating because you still ultimately have to get back the information and you’re the decision maker and that can be a problem.
So for example, for step number two, not delegating things that require special knowledge, you can’t delegate somebody on your team to manage all your finances, including all your financial decisions. You’ve got to meet with your accountant, make your financial decisions, and if you’re going to run a healthy business and make money, you got to know your own numbers. So that would not be something you would delegate to someone else.
Step number three, write it down, as I said a moment ago. And not just on a piece of paper. I recommend using a software and the one that we use in our company is Asana. Because if you write this on a piece of paper, if you write this on a scrap of paper, if you put this in an email that gets buried in someone’s email inbox, it’s not very effective for getting the tasks done.
So not only writing it down, but writing out all of the steps because we decided in step number one to provide all information and put it in Asana as a task or more likely a series of a whole lot of tasks that are going to be required to get the job done.
Number four, you need to be clear, specific, and concise. So an example of being clear, specific, and concise, versus not being clear, specific, and concise in my industry would be something like this. So if I’m just abdicating, I’m dumping, and I’m not clear, specific, or concise, I would say something like oh my gosh, it’s the last minute, just go pick out a sink for the Smith’s powder room. I don’t even care what it is. Just get something and I need to see it by this afternoon.
Nothing about that is clear, specific, and concise, including even this afternoon. Here’s what clear, specific, and concise would sound like. Hey Devon, I need you to select a sink for the powder bath of the Smith project. I think that the dimensions are 17 by 13 but here’s where you can find them in their folder. Take a look at that. I would like it to be either copper or bronze. I want it to have a faucet in the same finish, that’s a gooseneck to go with it, and it needs to look good with their quartz countertop, which is in their client box. And you could even give them the name of the countertop, obviously. I would like to see at least four choices by 2pm this afternoon and I’ll meet you in the conference room to review those selections.
Way more clear, specific, and concise than just go get anything, I don’t even care what it is and I just need it this afternoon. This afternoon could mean six o clock to them and you might have had a four o clock meeting. So I mean very clear, specific, and concise, and that’s the one that people mess up a lot.
Number five, break it into subtasks, the bigger picture, if you need multiple people owning the job or as we call it in our firm, passing the baton. So sometimes, the thing I’m delegating would be our Instagram posts for the month. And maybe I give very clear examples of what I’m thinking what I want, what kind of content I want, but there’s some baton passing because the copywriter’s going to write the copy, and a designer on my team is going to pick the photos because they know our design work and what photos would be appropriate to go with it, and our virtual assistant is going to take all of that information and then put it into our social media apps that we use so that we can schedule them, and she’ll do that.
And so there would be a whole lot of subtasks in Asana for all of the jobs that go along with delegating our Instagram posts for a month and each one of those subtasks would have a separate owner potentially, or there might be a group of tasks per owner. There might be two or three people involved and you need to break that out.
If you put it in one item and you’re just tagging everybody in there, are they going to be able to see everything? Is it going to be clear that it’s assigned to them? Probably not. So be very specific about how you break things up, and clear about the multiple steps.
Number six is assign the task or group of tasks to a person – and that’s what I love about Asana. You could use Trello, it’s another similar project management tool. There’s all kinds. I think there’s Basecamp. There’s dozens of options but we use Asana and we assign the tasks to an individual person and here is another one of the most important pieces, put a deadline on the task.
Now, in Asana it doesn’t have a time. It has a day. If you need a time, you could put that in the notes. I need this – or set the deadline the day before but be very clear on who’s responsible and when it is supposed to be completed.
Step number seven, attach any important documents or information to that task. So earlier where I was saying all the information about how a sink needed to match a certain countertop and other information like the measurements, that needs to be attached either as a document or maybe a link to a Google doc or a description of where they could find this physical sample, but all of that information needs to be attached. You don’t want whoever you’re assigning things to to be asking you questions all the time because again, then you haven’t really delegated.
Step number eight is you need a system for closure. So here’s another step that a lot of people miss. They even assign a deadline but they don’t ever check on anybody. And so if they’re not watching the deadlines and the person they assigned it to is not super conscientious and also honest and watching the deadlines, and not that people are dishonest if they miss them, they just might have a lot of other stuff going on or they may be disorganized, but if there’s not a system for closure as in when you will meet to review or you have an integrator or a project manager on your team that their job is to look at all the deadlines for tasks every single week and make sure none are overdue, but someone and oftentimes it has to be you, the person who assigned the task, needs to be checking up on the task.
So we would like to think well, I assigned it to them and told them that deadline, it’s their job to bring it to me on that date, and that’s great in theory but if they’re not doing it, guess what, you’re going to miss a whole lot of deadlines and you’re going to have a whole lot of stress. So it’s really important that before you even assign things, that you have a very clear system in your company for closure of all delegated tasks.
Step number nine is that you should require all the people that are working on this task to maintain any conversation about the task in the software where the task lives. For example, if there’s conversation on the sink that I gave the example of earlier, it needs to be typed in the comments on that item and they need to tag me so I see it in that software, or tag whoever they need to talk to about it.
But if they’re just asking things in person of me, if they’re catching me on the way by, like I worked outside of my home, or I still have some employees in my home. If they’re like oh, let me ask you a question and I just answer something on the fly, there is no record of that conversation. And if they’ve asked it to me in email, which can be a nightmare, then a lot of that stuff gets lost.
So you need to keep all of the conversation, all the communication attached to the items in the project management software until those items or the task as a whole is complete. It can be a problem to check off subtasks in something like Asana. In fact, we create subtasks but we don’t use the subtask feature anymore in Asana because those things kind of get buried. We actually make every subtask its own task, which is just a term in the Asana workflow so that nothing gets checked off that we didn’t see or notice, and none of the information that was attached to those subtasks gets deleted or filed or lost.
And if you use a software like Asana, you’ll know what I mean when you try to use it, but just trust me that you want to keep all the conversation and related information attached to the place where this information lives in your software.
And then the last step to effective delegation is to create an SOP, standard operating procedure for every task, especially or because it may need to get done again. So I guess there’s a chance that something is one-off that’s never going to be done again, but for the most part, we do a lot of reoccurring things in our businesses.
So if I’m talking about the example I used for a social media post, there needs to be a standard operating procedure written so the next time I don’t have to come delegate this all over again. Someone else who I assigned an SOP to, so if I just have one person doing a job, I’ll have them write the SOP. If there’s multiple people, I’ll have each person collectively help write the SOP for the part that they did.
And then we have a standard operating procedure that we follow the next time and the next time and the next time and the next time, and we can tweak it as needed because we see it written out and that way, we’re not reinventing the wheel every single week or month or time that we need to do a recurring task. So this one is huge.
So you might not know the SOP on the frontend if it’s something that you’ve never done before, but if it’s something that you do all the time over and over again, this is what’s going to give you that peace of mind that stuff is being done well if you have SOPs and you’re making sure everybody’s following them, these standards, then you don’t have to lose sleep at night wondering if they’re doing it the way you want to because it’s been written and you’ve approved the SOP, the standard operating procedure, and they’re following that consistently.
And of course you have to check in on people because people will get lax, they’ll stop following all the steps, so either you or someone on your team’s job needs to be to once a quarter, check in on the SOPs or make the people who wrote them check their own SOPs and that they’re still following them.
And I know this sounds tedious, but do you want more free time in your life like I do? Do you want to spend time doing things that make you the most money like I do? Well, if you do, this is a game-changer. This system. So this step-by-step process paired with mindset shifts about delegation, I promise you can change your life personally and professionally in every way if you start to practice this system.
But you can’t just do parts and pieces. Remember in step number four was be clear, concise, and specific. If you did every other step but you weren’t clear, concise, and specific, would you get the results you needed? No. So you can’t skip steps. It needs to be done in its entirety.
Now, I want to just get you clear before we go about one other detail or clarification that I learned from a really great book called Clockwork. Now, this book Clockwork is by a guy named Mike Michalowicz. He also wrote a book called Profit First, which I love and you may have heard me speak about. But this one is about how you can take really your personal quality of life and your business to an entirely new level because you’re essentially creating a business that can run itself.
Now, it doesn’t mean you can’t work on your own business. You absolutely can. But the beauty of your business being able to run itself if you want to step away and then when you don’t want to step away you’re there and you can insert yourself back in the places you prefer to work is ideal for a lot of us, and it definitely is for me.
So in Clockwork, Mike says there are four types of – I’m not sure what he calls them but it’s something like work or four types of action. He may use a different word, but those words will suffice as I describe this to you and you’ll know what I mean when I tell you the types. But he says there’s four ways essentially of working the task, the things we do in our businesses.
Really, this is true in our lives too. So here are the four things. Doing, deciding, delegating, and designing. Doing is self-explanatory. You’re actually doing the thing, the work yourself. And this is where most business owners spend way too much time in the doing and doing things themselves that shouldn’t even be close to fitting on the task list of the owner, the CEO, the principle, the head person.
Tons and tons of stuff ends up on our list that we do but we shouldn’t be. So that’s doing. And then you do need the people to be doing, but that doesn’t necessarily need to be you. The next step is deciding, and this one’s tricky and this is the whole reason I’m bringing this book up and I referenced this a little bit ago. But what a lot of us think is delegating is not delegating. It’s actually deciding.
And when we say we’ve delegated, we haven’t and here’s what I mean. Deciding means that you had someone do a part of a task or a task that’s a part of a bigger job, but they didn’t really own the job. They didn’t take it off of you. So it feels like delegating but at the end of the day, you didn’t really turn it all the way over to them. You didn’t empower them to make decisions. You just allowed them essentially to be your assistant on this task and ultimately, you are still making all the decisions.
And I have been so guilty of this behavior. Didn’t even know it was a thing. So glad I read this book because for years I thought I was delegating and sometimes I still now fall into this that I’m delegating to a point but then I’m still having my team bring stuff in front of me and I feel a lot of times lately like that’s everything. I just get back in the habit of going oh yeah, run all those social media posts by me, oh yeah, run all of that copy for that lead magnet by me, oh yeah, run every single thing by me.
And guess what, I’m the one deciding if it’s right or not and a lot of times, at that moment when they’re running it by me, it’s still in the works, it hasn’t been finalized because I told them it couldn’t be yet without going in front of me and I find myself in there changing and correcting typos or copy instead of just giving some feedback, then I start doing the work myself.
And it’s a problem, right? So if you’re seeing that you’re having everything still go through you, you’re deciding. You’re not delegating. Now, I don’t do this as much anymore and this is one of the main things I’m working on right now in my business is moving the deciding over to full delegation. But most people don’t do this very well, and most people, when we get the thing back that we had somebody do part of it for us like I just was saying, guess what we do.
We don’t even give that person feedback. We start thinking those thoughts of I knew this wasn’t going to be what I wanted, I should have done it myself, forget it, I’ll just change it myself, and we go to making the changes, just like I was just saying. And so instead of telling the other person and training them, the teaching them to fish part where we can come back and say, you know, I really like most of this but I want you to change this and here’s what I was thinking here, and let them try to get it right and complete it to our standards, we just take it back, we fix it the way we want, and often we never even tell that person at all.
Even on the backend, never even discuss it with them ever again and that does a huge disservice to us in our business and keeps us in the land of deciding. So all of this is a big old problem, this deciding thing, and it keeps you in decision-making mode all the time and decision-making leads to decision fatigue, which can lead to burnout, and we wonder why we’re exhausted all the time and why we wish we had some help.
So if you’re wondering why you are still exhausted, maybe you thought you were delegating but you’re probably still deciding but not delegating. And then the next level in Clockwork that he describes is delegating, and with that level, this is where the control freak, if you call yourself that, and the perfectionist, if you call yourself that, is going to have a mini meltdown at first until you really learn how to delegate.
But you have to be willing if you’re going to actually delegate the way Mike describes it to let your people make mistakes and support them and be okay that things may not be exactly the way you wanted them to be and let them go out that way anyway. And I just want you to see that in my own business, I could absolutely let something, a trim, a sofa, a toilet, a type of throw pillow go out the door without it being the exact one I would have selected and it not completely put me out of business.
And sometimes, the client might even like it better. And guess what, social media posts can totally get posted without me approving every single line, even if there’s a word in there that I would never say and when I read it, it doesn’t feel like me, that doesn’t mean that it’s going to bomb with my audience. In fact, sometimes it resonates more.
So I’m not saying don’t try to get your voice or your style. I’m absolutely not saying that. That comes in with you actually following through on all the steps and giving them enough information, but I’m just saying once you’re practicing really delegating, those tiny little things that you notice, no one else will ever notice and I promise they won’t put you out of business.
And if you’re actually going to learn to delegate, you’ve got to let those things go. Let them actually go all the way to the end and go to the client or to your social media feed or wherever it is that they’re supposed to land and then when you see something that doesn’t fit your brand or your voice or your style, then you can always say hey team, just so you know, it’s not a big deal, but here’s a couple of places that I’ve noticed things may be veering a little bit away from what I would have done. Here’s some feedback for you in the future.
And then you can allow them to learn to align with your wishes, but it killed nobody for those tiny little imperfections to go out into the world. In fact, sometimes, they’re received even better than what you would have selected. And this is the only way that you can start to become an actual delegator in the Clockwork sense and I think this is a really smart thing to do.
So the difference is that it doesn’t all go through you on the frontend every single time. And you better believe that if you’re practicing true delegation, then if you know it’s not going to come through you and get your approval every time, then you’re going to be way more committed to following through on all 10 steps and you’re going to be way more committed to training people, and you’re going to be way more committed to getting the SOPs, the standard operating procedures right so that you give everybody a huge chance to succeed and to align with what you would have wanted, had you done it yourself.
And they won’t be perfect but the more you put into this work on the frontend and creating standards and systems in your business, the chances of them getting it right are going to be very, very high and your business is going to thrive because of it. You’re going to have more time so you’re going to thrive because of it, and your piece of mind is going to through the roof. Really, really cool.
And then finally, the last thing in Mike’s list in the book Clockwork of those four things that we do is the very top level and it’s called designing. And this is where CEOs or business owners really need to spend most of our time and designing does not mean interior designing, just to be clear. Designing is not when you’re making all the selections for an interior design project. That is doing.
So if you’re doing, you’re picking things, that’s doing. Designing is you’re really like the maestro. You’re at the 40,000-foot view. You’re designing the process. You’re designing the way the business runs. You’re orchestrating all the things that will support your business and the results that you want to create, like those SOPs or workflows, or just the vision for where you want the company to go.
And so much more than what you’re spending your time doing right now, you need to be in this designing of your business. It’s really the working on your business instead of working in it in a lot of ways, and I talk about that a lot. And the people who spend more time designing, those are the people, as we say, that make the big bucks.
So the Jeff Bezos’s of the world, he’s designing Amazon, he’s not doing all the tasks or deciding because there’s no way he could ever do that. So he’s at that top level, creating the vision, the standards, the voice, the philosophies, all of that stuff. And we don’t spend near enough time in this. In fact, it’s where we should spend most of our time as the owners of our company.
So think about these four areas for a minute and with regard to my 10 steps for delegating and see where you are spending your time. And my guess is that most of you are almost completely in the doing area or doing and deciding, but you’re probably spending very little time in true delegation or in designing your business. So are you doing a whole lot of doing and a whole lot of deciding? Because if so, you’re holding your business back and that’s pretty profound.
So again, making shifts in your mindset, making shifts in your systems to get you delegating and running your business like a CEO, the one you dream of being, and making the money you dream of making, it could actually happen way easier than you think with these 10 steps to effective delegation.
Okay friends, that’s what I have for today. Go be that CEO of your business more than ever. You absolutely have this. These 10 steps are going to have your back. And don’t forget, if you want to keep this conversation going or any of the conversations we have here on The Design You Podcast, head over to Facebook and join my free Facebook group or we call it the Design You community on Facebook because we do a lot of fun stuff and have conversations there about podcasts.
We bring our podcast guests over to have conversations and I think you’ll really like it. So to find that, head over to facebook.com/groups/designyoupodcastcommunity and there’s just a few questions you have to answer to get approved to join. So fill those questions out and request to join and I’ll see you over in The Design You Podcast community. Bye for now.
Thank you so much for joining me for this episode of The Design You Podcast. And if you’d like even more support for designing a business and a life that you love, then check out my exclusive monthly coaching program Design You at tobifairley.com.