I’m currently reading Mike Michalowicz’s latest book, Clock Work. One of the things that has really stood out to me so far is that there are two types of delegation for a business owner.
The most common type of delegation actually isn’t delegation at all. Mike calls it “Deciding”. This is what happens when you hire someone to help you with a task or a job, but you don’t ever train or empower them to make any decisions on their own.
Perhaps you do this out of fear or laziness or your perfectionist mindset… whatever the reason is, since you aren’t delegating properly you end up as the bottleneck for all work projects because at every junction in their work, people are having to come to you and ask you to make a decision about something.
And then… when they do finish the task you asked them to do, guess what? They sit and wait for you to decide what they should do next. Because you have not given them any autonomy or self-direction.
In short, you are still managing every little decision — you’re merely delegating (or assigning) the actions behind those decisions.
How does this differ from actual delegation?
Assign an Outcome
Actual delegation happens when you assign a task to someone while also empowering them to make any decisions related to completing that task.
Put another way, you are delegating the outcome.
When you can delegate the outcome, it is liberating to everyone involved. Your team member feels trusted and empowered to do their job without you micromanaging them. And you are free to focus on the things that you need to do.
Reward Ownership (Rather Than Quality)
One other thing related to delegating that stood out to me was the importance of rewarding a team-member’s ownership of a task and not the quality of the outcome of that task.
You must allow them to make mistakes, or do things differently. Because they will.
If you only ever reward them when they do things just perfectly the exact same way that you would have done it, then all you’re doing is training them to ask you for a decision at every juncture.
So, instead, celebrate their ability to think and work with autonomy while giving candid and helpful feedback to help them make better decisions in the future.
As Mike writes, it all boils down to letting go of perfectionism.