One of the biggest fears of many solopreneurs is the whole idea of building a team and having to delegate work to others. Here is what I hear:
- I’m not good at delegating!
- I have had horrible results with people who work for me.
- I would feel out of control.
- No one will do the work as well or as fast as I can.
We have already talked about the necessity of building even a small team
if you are going to grow beyond your solopreneur status. So if growth is your plan, you will need to come to grips with whatever obstacles are in between you and building a team. Sooner, rather than later!
Some of my biggest mistakes in business have been around employees. In the early stages of my first business, I was anything but a stellar leader. One of my biggest hurdles early on was that I did not really understand what it meant to delegate. I either held on to the task, micromanaged, or cut the other person loose, assuming that all would go well. It never did.
As a leader, whenever you delegate a task, you need to make it clear what level of authority you are conferring to others to get the results you want. (I want to thank Michael Hyatt for this framework). I wish I had known all this early on and saved myself many mistakes. Here are the 5 levels of delegation:
Level 1: “Do exactly what I have asked you to do.” Don’t deviate from my instructions. I have already researched the options and determined what I want you to do.
Level 2: Research the topic and report back. We will discuss it, and then I will make the decision and tell you what I want you to do.
Level 3: Research the topic, outline the options and make a recommendation. Give me the pros and cons of each option, but tell me what you think we should do. If I agree with your decision, I will authorize you to move forward.
Level 4: Make a decision and then tell me what you did. I trust you to do the research, make the best decision you can, and then keep me in the loop. I don’t want to be surprised by someone else.
Level 5: Make whatever decision you think is best. No need to report back. I trust you completely. I know you will follow through. You have my full support.
My mistakes revolved around delegating level 3 or level 4 tasks to a staff member who was not equipped to exercise that level of responsibility. I learned over time to start an employee at the lower end of the levels until they have proved themselves and then move them up the ladder.
But many solopreneurs never get beyond level 1. They feel they have delegated a task, but haven’t really saved themselves much time OR taken themselves out of the equation. This is where the need to control or perfection paralysis is keeping them stuck.
It gets even worse. When you persistently micromanage staff at stage 1, you are harming your business. Why? The best team members actively seek opportunities to grow professionally. If you can’t provide it, they may decide to move on to another job where they have a chance to shine. Worse, the people that will stay are precisely the people that are never going to grow with your business or contribute to its success.
Take a moment to be honest with yourself about what stage you are on, and how you can start pushing yourself and your team to higher levels of delegation. It’s a process, but you will get better with practice!
Want to learn more about how to go from Solo2CEO? Learn more about my course here.