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Delegation Isn’t Abdication: Why Outsourcing Your Work Isn’t Working

Your desk, your calendar, and your mind are all cluttered with your never-ending to-do list.

Your team comes into your office every 10 minutes with some new conundrum or quandry… Or worse, to get approval to do the thing they’ve already decided to do that didn’t require approval in the first place.

You can’t remember the last time you stopped to really think—much less dream—about and plan for the future of your business because you’re always tangled up in the daily ins and outs of running it.

“This is insane,” you grumble late one evening, finally collapsing into bed. “I have to get some of this stuff off my plate.”

So you go to the internet. Or to your favorite business books. Either way, you probably get the same resounding advice from 95% of your sources.

Delegate, delegate, delegate.

“Ok then,” you think. “I just need to delegate more of my workload to my team. Problem solved.”

…Or is it?

You go back to the office, sit down with your team, and explain that some duties are being shifted. You pass on your workload to others in your organization. Maybe you even hire someone new to take care of these newly delegated tasks!

But within a few weeks, it’s abundantly clear. By delegating these responsibilities, you’ve created MORE work for yourself and more stress for your people.

Now, not only does everything still need to be done—but you’re behind. You have no choice but to grind it out and dig yourself out of this backlog…AGAIN!

By trying to delegate, you’ve somehow made your situation even worse.

Why Delegation Isn’t Actually Lightening Your Load

This is the classic problem with delegation. As it’s usually executed, it’s a surefire recipe for overwhelm and chaos.

While we here at Exit Momentum are STRONG proponents of building a great team to help you achieve your vision and scale your business, true delegation isn’t as simple as pawning your work off onto another team member and breathing a sigh of relief.

But What About ‘Delegate and Elevate’? Not So Fast…

When our clients come to us, many explain that they’ve already tried to implement a popular business framework, the Entrepreneurial Operating System® (EOS®). It’s a common starting point because a lot of the high-level concepts are solid and helpful.

EOS® teaches entrepreneurs to ‘delegate and elevate’… which in our view is partially correct. In fact, our founder even coached this method and tested it exclusively for several years.

However, this approach to delegation (and the approaches of most other popular business growth frameworks we’ve seen) often leaves business owners with a delegation strategy that resembles kids playing hot potato.

Essentially, these systems encourage overwhelmed business owners to look at all the stuff on their to-do list and ask “What could be passed on to someone else?” Their answer to having too much on your plate is, “Delegate more.”

However, they stop short of explaining HOW to delegate well, because frankly, teaching someone how to effectively delegate in a way that creates long-term measurable business success can be complex and team-specific. It’s not the sort of thing one easily condenses into a mass-market, cookie-cutter action plan and a cute acronym.

This approach isn’t wrong, per se… but some Implementers & coaches simply don’t have the extensive business experience to provide the depth and specificity of support business owners need to delegate in a way that actually eases their burdens.

More simply put, they are teaching the concept of “delegation” completely from theory. However, the nuances of delegation are important and impactful. The seemingly small differences between one business and another are what can fundamentally change a company.

In a planning session, ‘delegate to elevate’ sounds simple enough. But after that planning session, a disconnect occurs. The ‘good idea’ to delegate gets lost, leaders get overwhelmed, and everyone slides back into the old patterns that brought you to where you are right now…

…Which is a massive issue. Because what got you here sure as heck won’t get you to the strategic growth, scalability, profit, and ease you’re looking to create.

“If you aren’t careful, delegation is like a boomerang. It could come back to hit you in the head.”

—Cullen Talley, Exit Momentum Founder & Head Coach

Facing the Fear: What’s Stopping You From Delegating Well

If you’ve failed in your early attempts at delegation, it’s probably because…

  • You “tried it before,” and it didn’t work.
  • No one taught you “delegation” as a skill. Most business leaders don’t realize they’re lacking strong enough systems and processes to delegate effectively.
  • You can’t let go. You may say you want to delegate, but in truth, you’re still holding onto the tasks you knew and loved when you started your business.
  • You’re afraid no one else will be able to perform the tasks up to your expectations.
  • You don’t have the right people, in the right seats, doing the right things, at the right time. Miss any one of these four, and your attempts to delegate are on thin ice.
  • You prefer the Devil you know. Delegation usually comes with some growing pains. Rather than working through them, you prefer to cut your losses and stay stuck.

Between your lack of processes and your own stubborn resistance to chance, you’re holding yourself and your team back from achieving your full potential.

If you want to break free from the overwhelm, take back your time and energy, and shift into the role you need and are called to fill in your business, delegation is a MUST. But before you can reap the benefits, you have to do the work to cultivate a rich mindset and delegation strategy.

What It Really Takes to Delegate Well

First Stop—Shift Your Mindset Around What Delegation Means For Your Business

As the leader of your business, it’s important that YOU first bring the right mindset and approach to the table any time you ask your team to try something new. Delegation is no different. As you dive into this new way of doing business, here are ten mindset shifts you’ll want to adopt to support your efforts.

1. Know when to relinquish control
Your business is your baby, but just like raising a child, holding on too tightly can lead to bigger problems. While it’s natural to fear letting go of critical aspects of your company, consider the potential benefits of relinquishing some control. Ask yourself: What am I losing by refusing to release the reins? Delegating can be scary, but burning yourself to the ground and taking your whole business with you is much scarier.

2. Trust your team
Nobody does it quite like you—but what if someone on your team could do it even better? Too often, business owners doubt the competence and ability of their team members. By hiring the right people for the right roles and delegating aligned tasks to aligned individuals with the right skills, you may be surprised at how your business’s efficiency and productivity improve.

3. Remember that “perfect” is a fantasy
If you consider yourself a perfectionist, you probably find it challenging to leave important tasks and decisions to others. However, striving for perfection can be paralyzing and ultimately counterproductive. Accept that perfection is unattainable and focus instead on excellence and progress.

4. Look at your training time as an investment
While investing time in training your team may seem like a burden, it’s essential for long-term success. View training as an investment in your team’s growth and development, knowing that the time spent now will pay off in increased efficiency and effectiveness down the line.

5. Create an environment of open communication
Effective delegation requires open lines of communication. Encourage your team members to ask questions, seek clarification, and provide updates on their progress. Create a culture where feedback is welcomed and valued and where team members feel comfortable communicating openly with one another.

6. Go one step at a time
Delegation doesn’t happen overnight. Take it one step at a time, gradually entrusting your team members with more responsibility as trust and confidence build. Start small, with low-risk tasks, and gradually delegate more complex tasks as your team members prove themselves capable.

7. Step into your identity as a visionary
Stop stressing about whether you’re ‘training your replacement.’ Delegating tasks to others doesn’t diminish your value or importance as a leader. Instead, it allows you to focus on higher-level strategic activities that drive business growth. Embrace the idea that delegating tasks to others frees you up to focus on what you do best and adds value to your role as a leader.

8. Let go of past mistakes
Past experiences of delegation gone wrong can leave lasting scars, but dwelling on them only hinders future progress. Learn from past mistakes, but don’t let them hold you back from embracing delegation as a powerful tool for growth and efficiency.

9. Be a leader of leaders
Effective delegation isn’t just about assigning tasks—it’s about empowering your team members to become leaders in their own right. Encourage autonomy, initiative, and decision-making among your team members, and foster a culture where everyone feels empowered to take ownership of their work.

10. Embrace the growth mindset
Finally, adopt a growth mindset when it comes to delegation. See it not as a sign of weakness or incompetence, but as a strategic tool for building a stronger, more resilient business. Recognize that delegation is not about surrendering responsibility, but about leveraging the collective strengths and talents of your team to achieve shared goals.

Success Strategies For Effective Delegation

Delegation is not merely about redistributing tasks—it’s about fostering growth, efficiency, and shared responsibility within your team. Here are some strategies to help you approach delegation successfully:

    • Identify the Right Tasks for Delegation: Assess your workload and identify routine tasks that do not require your specific expertise… but be mindful. Consider the difference between tasks that truly need to be delegated vs tasks that could be automated or eliminated altogether.
    • Define Your 100%. Set clear boundaries around what you do and don’t want for your schedule. Are you willing to work 30-hour, 4-day weeks? What about 80-hour, 6-day weeks? Decide what a healthy, balanced schedule looks like for you and stick to it.
    • Delegate Authority, Not Just Tasks: Your team is capable of so much more than blindly checking off a to-do list. Build their capacity and confidence around independent decision-making, so you can gradually hand over bigger, more meaningful work without strain.
    • Delegate Intentionally: Prioritize tasks based on their impact on your business goals and your team members’ capacity and expertise. Set clear expectations for each new task, and pay attention to what works and doesn’t work for your specific team members.
    • Provide Ample Training and Support: Invest time in training and mentoring your team members to ensure they have the skills needed to succeed. Encourage your team to ask questions upfront so they’ll be able to operate more independently later.
    • Monitor Progress and Provide Feedback: Create clear metrics you can use to determine whether your delegation strategy is truly working or not. Regularly check in on the progress of delegated tasks and provide feedback to course-correct as needed.

Delegation isn’t a skill that comes naturally to most business leaders. The fact that you haven’t nailed it yet isn’t a death sentence for your business growth.

But with the right delegation strategies and mindsets in place, you’ll soon be ready to step down as the ‘task rabbit’ of your business and shift into a more sustainable, successful way of leading your team.

If you’re ready to get serious about delegating more effectively, here are three action steps you can take today:

    1. Download our free Right People, Right Seats Assessment. Here, you’ll ensure that you have the support needed in each area of your business so you can delegate with more confidence.
    2. Book a complimentary strategy call with one of our Exit Momentum Business Coaches. On this call, we’ll talk through your specific struggles with delegation, zero-in on your goals, and decide whether working together could be the right fit.
    3. Check out this video from our clients at Spencer Pests to learn how we helped these business leaders stop trying to do everything themselves, step into the visionary role, and empower their leadership team to take independent action.

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