Learning To Delegate

For everyone out there operating their own business, the urge is most likely very strong to operate every aspect of your business yourself. After all, as the old saying goes, “If you want something done right, you’ve got to do it yourself”, right?

Wrong. See there’s another old saying you should be aware of. I honestly can’t remember the exact phrasing or the source, but its message is no less clear.

“Look around you. If you see somebody else who can do the job better, have them do it. If you’re the only one around, do the best you can until somebody better comes along.”

I want to say it’s from the 1959 Robert A. Heinlein novel Starship Troopers (not to be confused with the film, to which it bears very little resemblance), but that could be incorrect. If anyone out there knows the correct source of the quote, please comment below as I’m having a lot of difficulty trying to remember and it’s kind of bothering me, and Google is of little help in this instance.

Back on track, what that boils down to, is that if a member of your team is more qualified or better suited to perform a task related to your business, you should delegate that responsibility to them. It will be hard for some of you. A lot of people make it a point of pride to have a hand in every aspect of their business. But as yet another old saying goes, “Pride goeth before a fall.” The tendency to micromanage and handle every aspect of your business on your own can actually have a serious detrimental effect. If you’ve sat down and performed an honest assessment of your own skills and talents, you know exactly where your own strengths and weaknesses lie. The best thing you can do is to play to those strengths, while assigning tasks to members of your team that play to theirs. In this manner, you ensure that all tasks are completed to the highest standard that you and your team can possibly achieve. The end result, is the best business you can possibly be, which can only benefit you and your client base.

Of course, that’t not always possible, which leads me to the second part of the quote. What do you do if you don’t have anyone in your team who’s better qualified than you are? Well in that case, the answer is pretty obvious (and is actually right there in the quote). Simply do the best you can yourself, until such time as there’s someone in your team who’s a better fit for the task at hand than you are. Exercise caution in this instance though, as some tasks (for example, designing a marketing campaign, unless that’s your business of course) may be best completed by an outside source, such as an outside business or freelancer. Simple common sense should be sufficient to tell you whether a task is something you should complete on your own, or outsource.

This all sounds very simple, but truthfully, it’s not. Among highly motivated self-starters on the hunt for the biggest piece of PIE possible, the tendency to go as hard as possible on every task at hand in order to complete them and move on to others is very strong. I know this to be true, because that is the case for me and many of the other people I work with. But in order to ensure your business is the best it can possibly be, curbing that tendency and delegating responsibilities to others may be the smartest decision you can make.

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