Doing vs. Delegating

by Tina on January 2, 2009

One of the biggest challenges for OBMs is the transition from being a ‘doer’ to being a ‘delegator’.

Any good OBM has been the one doing the work at some point – this is the best way to learn and get the experience we need to play the OBM role. So our natural inclination is to do the work ourselves, usually without giving it a second thought.

However as your client’s business grows (which it surely will, with your help), it is simply impossible for you to be both doer and manager. Over time you need to learn to let go of more and more ‘doing’ so that you can focus your attention where it is needed most.

Keep in mind that the “doing to delegating” transition will take time – you won’t put on your OBM hat one day and instantly stop doing the work. Rather, you will start to delegate various tasks and projects over time to the various members of your team… which may happen over a period of a months or years, depending on how fast the business is growing.

So what do you delegate and when? A few tips:

  • One of the very first things to delegate are any administrative tasks– things such as managing someone’s calendar, customer service emails, basic website updates, etc. Another way to look at this is delegating any of the tasks that aren’t directly related to money. If a task doesn’t directly affect the bottom line than it is a good one to delegate sooner rather than later.
  • Delegate the stuff that you don’t like doing. You don’t want to go overboard here of course, but you have certainly earned the right to let go of tasks/projects that you really don’t enjoy. When we do things that we don’t enjoy it can be a HUGE energy drain, and as an OBM you really can’t afford to be leaking out energy. So get a few of the ick tasks off your plate! And remember that what is an ick to you may be alot of fun for someone else…
  • Delegate the stuff you like doing, and that gets in the way. I remember a client telling me once that she hired a bookkeeper – not because she hated doing the books but because she enjoyed it! And she would find herself doing the books when she should have been focusing on other money-making activities. Which tasks/projects do you hang onto simply because you enjoy them? Keep an eye on yourself and see if it is time to let some of these tasks go in order to free up space for more important activities.
  • If you are establishing a new process you may want to be the one to ‘do’ the work the first few times around. It is really hard to delegate a brand new process if the tasks and milestones are not yet defined. For example, say you are setting up a membership site for the very first time. You would probably want to be quite involved and actually do some of the work, so that you can then turn around and refine/create the process to be added to the Standard Operating Procedures Guide. Once you’ve worked out the kinks, tweaked for maximum efficiency and clearly outlined the process in the Guide then you can delegate the next time around.
  • Which tasks are you doing simply because you haven’t gotten around to training someone else? I know it can sometimes be easier to simply ‘do it ourselves’ than to take the time to lay out the process and details necessary to train someone. But I challenge you here, what are you (still) doing that could be passed along to someone else with a bit of training? Keep in mind it is more important for you to train now than it is for you to do. Training is an investment in your own time and energy, and once someone else is trained to do certain tasks it can feel great to have them off your plate!
  • That being said, don’t be afraid to jump in and do the work in times of urgency/emergency. There may be times when certain deadlines aren’t being met, people fall ill and can’t get their work done or other things pop up that simply need to be done NOW and can’t wait for you to delegate. During these times it is certainly OK to jump in and get things done… just keep in mind that you want to consider how to prevent these kind of situations from happening again. If you are always having to jump in for urgencies/emergencies then there is something bigger going on in the business that needs to be addressed.

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