David Kentish, director at the people change experts, Kentish and Co, give us their four rules of how to let go and delegate.
Rule 1. Don’t be a control freak: No-one can do this the way I do it or want it to be done
This was my mantra when we first started our business in 2008. My partner and I did everything: new business development, accounting, bookkeeping, marketing, writing proposals, and developing the web site. The list goes on and on, you name it, one of us wore the hat for it.
How familiar does this sound to you?
There are two main reasons for holding on to everything and not letting go. The first is that what you do then becomes personal. It’s that feeling of control, and also you know how you want it done, you feel like you have developed the perfect system. How could you possibly delegate to someone else who is not emotionally involved in your business?
The second reason is that it costs money to bring people in. And if you are a new business you often look at that money going out and say to yourself ‘I can save that money by doing it myself’. Cash flow is hugely important to a business, whatever their size, but especially a small one.
Rule 2. Look at the bigger picture and expand your network
Here lies the problem. Your business will not develop or grow unless you do make the decision to let go. If your business plan includes growth, then doing everything by yourself is unsustainable. This is what we found and believe me, it is hard to let go, but we had to do it. We have always invested in our own self development and this gave us the understanding that while we were very good at our core business, we did not have the skills that would help us take it to the next level and beyond.
Bringing in a business advisor, financial experts, marketing and PR experts, and investing in our business was the next step up from investing in ourselves, and it has paid dividends. Looking back, if we had taken these steps with business planning earlier, we would be much further along our growth line.
It sounds so simple, doesn’t it? So why is it that we, along with most businesses, haven’t done this from day one?
From my experience it’s down to not having a long-term vision for the company before it is even set up. This is not a criticism, but an acknowledged fact that when setting up a company on the back of a good idea or skill that you have, it is difficult to see further than the first year of trading. Once you’ve made it through that, you automatically concentrate on getting through the second year, and so it goes on…
Generally, it is at this point that the vision for the company should start to develop. If letting go of some operational tasks has not begun, then this is the time to do it. You need to cross that psychological barrier, and when you do, you will wonder why on earth you didn’t do it earlier.
Rule 3. Don’t be afraid to think big
When I was in the corporate world, there was a term given to a company that still had the founder in total control, these companies were called ’owner-drivers’. The whole ‘it’s my company and what I say and believe goes!’ mentality. This can of course be a positive, or a negative, depending on the person’s values.
How the owner-driver copes with the growth of their business is down to the person and the top, and their mindset. It is impossible to be involved in every decision when a company grows. It is therefore of paramount importance to have people with the right attitude working for you, to make decisions on behalf of the company.
Rule 4. Trust your workforce
Once you’ve hired these people they need to know that they have autonomy to make decisions and get on with things. Accountability and understanding that they own the responsibility for those decisions is key. But they also need to know that there is full support for them when doing so.
The overriding factor from both perspectives is that you have to let go, and you have to delegate. Pride, stubbornness and frustration often get in the way of delegating and letting others get on with things. It’s crucial to understand that you have to put trust in your workforce or you will hold back the growth of your business, the development of the people in your team and ultimately your own development.
When you understand this, you will see that the work still gets done, even when approached in a different way and maybe even (gulp) as well or better than you could do it yourself.