Did you know there is something called “delegation talent?” Even more interesting is that most entrepreneurs don’t have this talent. I was surprised too. In this episode, I am talking about why it is so hard to ask for help and why business owners might be exceptionally bad at it.
Luckily, this is not just a talent but a skill we can learn and develop. Even if you’re an entrepreneur who has embraced delegation a bit late in your business, embracing this skill will increase your efficiency and success. So let’s dive into why it’s tough and I will share a few tips you can use to find and retain great people that will help grow your business.
If you have ever said things like “I don’t have time to train someone new” or “It’s just easier to do the work myself, good people are hard to find”, this episode is for you.
1:32 Delegation Talent
3:21 The 3 reasons it is so hard to delegate
8:03 3 common mistakes small business owners make when delegating
  • Waiting too long to delegate
  • Assuming too much with a lack of clear communication
  • All or none thinking
Resources discussed in this episode:

Contact Kari Lotzien | Be the Anchor: 
Kari Lotzien: [00:00:01] Welcome to Be The Anchor, the podcast. I’m your host, business and leadership coach Kari Lotzien. When the seas of life gets stormy, and they always will, it is not up to us to captain anyone else’s ship or to try to calm the waters of the ocean. It’s up to us to set our own destination for what we really want and to learn how to navigate those waves of life together while finding that place of security and stability with others. I call this being an anchor. If you are a dreamer, a visionary, an entrepreneur, whether you have an idea big or small, that you think might just make the world a little bit better, kinder, gentler place, you are in the right spot, my friend. We are going to talk about everything from big ideas to mindset and strategy, and sometimes just how to get through the day. I don’t want you to miss an episode so be sure to follow and subscribe to the podcast so that we can stay connected and keep doing this journey of life together. Thanks so much.
Kari Lotzien: [00:01:11] Hello my friends. Welcome to Be The Anchor the podcast. I’m your host, business and leadership coach Kari Lotzien, and I’m so glad you’re here. I have a confession to make, and I don’t think I’m alone. I am terrible at asking for help. It’s been a long term thing. I think it’s both contributed to my success and a lot of times gotten in the way.
Kari Lotzien: [00:01:32] Well, I read a study from the Gallup poll in 2014 that says I am not alone. And if you have trouble asking for help, you probably aren’t alone either. What they found is that only 1 in 4 entrepreneurs, so owners who had more than four employees, only 1 in 4 had what they called a natural delegator talent. Why is this important? Because so many of the other pieces of that study related to businesses who had leaders that were good at delegating grew faster and earned on average 33% more revenue than those who didn’t. This is something worth paying attention to. Got me thinking about the skill of delegation. And so often as entrepreneurs who are beyond that initial start up phase, we hear that idea of you need to stop working in your business and you need to start working on your business. Now, for many of us who, in start up phase, this is what made you successful, being fiercely independent, learning things that you did not know before so that you could get through that initial grind of what a startup means. We get a pride with that. And often the first measure of success in business is the fact that you survived the start up phase. As you know, many businesses don’t survive that first part. 46% of businesses don’t survive the first five years in business. If you want to make more money and have longevity in your business, delegation is a skill set that you need.
Kari Lotzien: [00:03:21] And it doesn’t come naturally. I first want to just address how did we even get there? Why is this task of delegating so hard? I think, number one, the fact that many of us who have achieved a certain level of success are intelligent. We know how to find information. We know how to learn things. So we can do a lot of the different roles in our business. For me, that included everything from cleaning the floors to doing the reception, answering phones, doing my own books. I learned many things in the business and I see so many entrepreneurs at that start up phase. They’re doing it all. But then sometimes we go beyond the time where it’s still comfortable and we keep doing it all as we grow and we just start to feel more and more constraints on our time and then our services start to decline or fall.
Kari Lotzien: [00:04:46] The second is humility. I still hear so many entrepreneurs, and especially those of us who have come from service-based businesses where we’ve kind of worked our way up. You know, we’ve got the story to tell. We walked uphill both ways. You know, we had bosses that, you know, screamed and hollered at us, and we feel like we’ve kind of worked our way through the trenches. And there’s that almost pride or martyrdom that comes with, I’ve been there. I know where you are, and I am not too proud to stop doing the hard work in the business, to stop doing that front line piece, to, you know, do the do the gritty stuff. And we have this voice in our head that says, I would never ask anyone else to do something that I’m not willing to do myself. Well, I can tell you there is a difference between being willing to do it when it is truly necessary and continuing to do it and masking that as humility. It comes off as almost martyrdom. And I think the way that we know the difference is sometimes you’re doing the things that you know you shouldn’t be doing, and that seed of resentment is building.
Kari Lotzien: [00:06:11] You start to get angry that you’re holding some of those roles in the business when you know you should be doing other things that you can’t delegate that no one else can do for you. And it’s not up to your employees or the people that you’ve hired to know what you should be doing. You know, they’re not going to come to you and say, oh, you know, you really shouldn’t be answering the phones. You really shouldn’t be doing all these books. Let me do that for you so that you can work on our next quarterly objectives, or you can really go and plan that meeting and go after that networking thing that you’ve been trying to do for so long to land us that new contract. No one is going to give you permission, my friend. The third is fear. Fear of trusting other people. And this is a sticky one because I think so often we have this sense of control and when we have a certain standard, and even if we’re not doing a great job, often we tend to be able to do most tasks well enough to get by. And we have a real fear that if we let go of that control, that our quality, our service, our efficiency is not going to be the same. So we have this hesitancy in even looking, considering delegating. So number one is just understanding the reason why this difficulty with lack of delegation exists in many of us and recognizing that what got you here to this point, to getting past that start up grind is not going to take you to the next level. It has served you well and it is time to move on from that.
Kari Lotzien: [00:08:03] Top three mistakes that I see entrepreneurs making as they try to start to delegate in the business. Number one, they wait too long. Myself included. What happens when we wait too long is we are burning the candle at both ends. Getting up earlier, staying later. We’re eating lunch at our desk or not at all. We are returning emails when we’re trying to watch our kid’s soccer game. We’re doing so much multitasking that our business is encroaching on so many different aspects of our lives that there is almost no space to delegate well. And when we have waited too long, now the little voice in your head will say things to you like, It’s easier to just keep doing it myself because I don’t have time to train someone. I don’t have time to get things going because this project, this assignment, these things needed to be done yesterday. It’s a very tricky situation. And we’re going to talk a little bit about how to do that. Number two difficulty that I see when it comes to delegating as we start to be able to consider that is assuming too much.:
Kari Lotzien: [00:09:26] If we’ve waited too long, we tend to move towards outsourcing instead of hiring, or we try to hire someone who has experience. And we assume that when they have experience that they know or can find everything they need to be successful at that job. We assume that they know exactly what we want, how we want it, how efficiently we want it. And inevitably it leads to disappointment, resentment or the task not going well at all. And that relationship is strained almost before it even starts. The problem is not the other person. With love and compassion my friends, like, please know, I get it. What I hear my clients often say is it’s so hard to find good people. Well, here’s the thing. Yes, there is a challenge right now in finding good people, but we make it so much worse when we wait too long and we don’t set that person up for success and we assume too many things so that that relationship does not get off to a strong start. Number three, we have an all or none mentality. When things start to go sideways or when there’s tension or something doesn’t go completely according to plan, we jump ship. We tell that person it’s not working, we move on and we go back to doing it all ourselves. We don’t have time to navigate the subtle changes in what we truly want, how we want things to be better as that relationship goes forward.
Kari Lotzien: [00:11:05] And again, I can tell you right now, most of the time, this is not about the other person. This is not about the person that you hired not being qualified, not having a good work ethic, not understanding what you need. It really is about taking time to develop a good delegation relationship and then giving an investment to that over time so that it doesn’t go so far off track. So just noticing, are you making some of those mistakes in your business as you start to think about delegating? Have you waited too long? Do you have capacity to really invest in that training? Are you assuming that people have all the skills that they need, that they can just come in and without training deliver this quality of service that you’re looking for? And is there this voice in your mind that if it doesn’t go well, you’re just willing to let that entire relationship go and go back to doing it all yourself? Those are three very dangerous things when it comes to moving to this next level of delegation.
Kari Lotzien: [00:12:08] All right. So we’ve talked about why it’s hard. Why it’s hard to even get to the idea of delegating. We’ve talked about common mistakes that business owners make as they start to move towards delegation. And now I want to finish by talking about how can we set ourselves up for success when we start to move towards delegation, when we bring on those new people that we’re really investing in that relationship so that it really contributes to the success of our business and gives us our own time and energy back, because I think that’s what we really want. First, take time to really lean in to what your expectations are. Get super clear. Now, this isn’t about being a micromanager. It’s not about being too type A or being too detail focused. It’s not like that. It’s about helping to set the other person up for success. So when you turn over a project, when you turn over a big task, get really clear. How are you measuring success? What are those key steps or really important processes that are important to you in how that task is carried out? Communicate around all of the expectations in that task and then talk openly about timelines, what’s reasonable, what feels like an adequate amount of time that you’re going to allow for this project to come to completion so that you know that it’s done in its entirety. Talk about it. Discuss it at the very beginning.
Kari Lotzien: [00:13:44] And then the next step in making this more successful is to schedule regular check ins. Investment in time in the process of delegation is one of the biggest pieces. Don’t wait until we’re at outcome stage or till a project is finished, until we check in on it. To ensure that things are going well we want to have those touch points along the way just checking in. How are things going? Are there any questions so that we don’t get so far off track before we can correct course. This protects us from that all or none mentality where we’re too far in and we feel like, well, I guess I just need to accept the way that it is or I need to go back to doing it all myself. When you have those checkpoints, it allows you to make those subtle corrections along the way. And this is going to be the time where you might see your own blind spots. Where you can identify, Oh, I should have communicated that that part was important or I should have communicated that this is where we need to go next, or this is a key process that has to happen in the bigger picture. What this does is it starts to just turn the way you think. You’re teaching that other person how you make decisions, how you move through a process so that they’re taking on more and more of that independence over time.
Kari Lotzien: [00:16:52] And the biggest piece that I see in the success of delegating well is that the delegator assumes most of the responsibility in the process, especially at the beginning. Don’t be too proud to just reflect and correct course. You know what? That’s on me. We should have scheduled a check in meeting a little bit earlier. Or, you know, I forgot to tell you about that key part. You know, sometimes when you’ve been doing a task for so long, you forget about all of those little pieces. And now that we’re this far in, you know, I recognize that there’s a few tweaks that we need to make. When you assume responsibility, your partner, your delegation partner will feel that this is a collaborative effort, that you’re not blaming them for not being able to read your mind or do things the way you wanted and you’re not feeling that sense of, Oh, well, I now need to take this all back. But we’re building that collaboration as we build the delegation relationship. These are so critically important to moving forward in having this to go well, and I want it to go well for you. I want you to move to that next level in your business. I want you to earn better revenue. I want you to feel like you have people on your team who feel valued. This is what it’s all about, my friends.
Kari Lotzien: [00:20:28] I am so glad that you’re here. That episode was loaded with content, and I don’t want you to feel this sense of pressure. I want you to feel hope. I want you to feel like you have a bit of a roadmap on where to start, how to move forward. Thanks so much for being here. I’m Kari Lotzien with Be the Anchor. Don’t forget, like, subscribe to the podcast so that you don’t miss an episode. I’m so glad you’re here. Chat soon.
Kari Lotzien: Hey, my friends, are you a business owner that has survived that startup phase of business? You know how to hustle. You know how to work hard. You’ve got paying customers and from the outside looking in, you feel you’ve achieved a certain level of success in your business. You really care about the service and the quality that you provide to your clients or customers, but deep down you know that to go to that next level, you can’t keep going at this pace. You’re busy and you want to still have a life outside of your business. I am launching the Anchored Leadership group coaching program. Doors open October of 2023. This program is designed for business owners like you who need to develop their teams, who want to make more money and establish their business without just squeezing more into their day and stretching their limits even further. We are going to talk about everything from strategy to really digging into the nitty gritty. It’s a combination of training, workbooks, and live coaching. If you want to learn more, click on the link in the show notes, we’ll book a discovery call, and you can find out if this is a great fit for you. Thanks so much. We’ll chat soon.