Why Most Entrepreneurs Don’t Delegate Well

Delegation can be scary for entrepreneurs, especially if they're used to having everything done exactly the way they want it. But the benefits can't be ignored.

Photo: Carl Gustafson, Owner and Clinical Trainer at London Cosmetic Clinic; Source: Courtesy Photo

Setting up your own company is akin to giving birth to your first baby, and you probably have the same level of protectiveness when it comes to allowing others to take on the responsibility for it.

This is typical of entrepreneurs who find it very difficult to delegate even the simplest of tasks. The business can take over most of their working day and while it is recognized that a busy work schedule is standard for an entrepreneur, they can make their lives (and those of their team) a lot easier if they let go.

We often fail to recognize that by delegating work we would free up more time to concentrate on other areas, but why is this?


1. Perfectionism and control issues

It is very difficult to be totally honest with yourself about whether you accept any standard short of perfection and are a bit of a control freak. Unsurprisingly, these are common traits of an entrepreneur.


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Being proud to say that you are a hard worker is fine, but alongside this badge of honor is a tendency to hog the workload. This is not good for the business, let alone the individual, and there will come a time when deadlines are missed, the team feels the brunt of your burn out, and delegation is no longer a choice.

Your lack of delegation could be due of trust issues. If so it’s time to be brutally honest with yourself. Delegating is not a sign of weakness  it is more of strength to admit that one person cannot (and should not) do it all.

Step back and take a strategic look at your operations. If you are immersed in daily operations you could risk missing out on expansion and growth opportunities.


2. Being afraid of failure

Daniel Flynn, co-founder and Managing Director of the Thankyou Group, recognizes the importance of accepting that not everything will be or has to be a great success. He has built up a good team around him who focusses not on excuses, but on supporting each other when an idea is put forward and carried out.

Communicating with your team and setting out deadlines is a start, as you begin to share some of the responsibilities.


3. Hesitant being part of a team

It is very difficult to go from one individual having a dream or plan to set up a company, to running an organization where decisions have to be made.

Entrepreneurs have had to “go it alone,” which means they can easily overlook the art of delegation because they still feel that everything has to fall on their shoulders.

Stuart Marburg, CEO of MessageMedia, fully involves his team when it comes to making decisions or developing a new product. He gets them to be his sounding board and to think like MessageMedia consumers, which has helped their business enormously.


4. Lack of outsourcing skills

If a business is built up from scratch then the person who started it will know it inside out. At the beginning they would do everything from dealing with the accounts to sorting out the advertising.

As a company grows these habits are hard to shake off, but being able to outsource specialist tasks will free the company director to channel his or her energy in more fruitful directions.


5. Micromanagement tendencies

Another trait that entrepreneurs find hard to shake is the practice of micromanagement. Again, this links to trust and being secure in the knowledge that autonomy can be given to employees.

Connected with this is the delegation of job supervision and understanding that not everyone will carry out the process of the work role in exactly the same way as the owner.

If the work is carried out to its optimum efficiency, then it is time to stop the backseat driving of micromanagement because it is not conducive to good employer/employee relationships.


How to delegate the right way

The difficulty in being the “lone wolf” and then having a team around is that for some entrepreneurs it is difficult to know how and what to delegate.


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If this is not done correctly then the owner of the company can still be incredibly busy, but using their time on the wrong tasks. There are a few areas to consider when it comes to knowing what steps to take to hone the professional art of delegation.

It is important to choose the right person to delegate to and this means observing and listening to the people around you. Delegate work to those who deliver and ensure that you employ people with the right skills and training for the job.

An entrepreneur should also be able to delegate those tasks they do not enjoy or have no expertise in. So if you are a complete computer buff then carry on with the tasks and roles that you are good at, but areas such as personnel or finance can be delegated to a professional.

As part of the delegation process you have to delegate responsibility and authority, not just the task in hand. Ensure that clear instruction is given but not in a manner to offend because people feel you are talking down to them. On the other hand, clear communication is needed to ensure the person who is taking on some of your tasks has understood what is expected of them.

Give specific dates with a followup system in place so that you can be confident at each stage that targets are being met and results achieved. As the owner of a business you have to be confident before the deadline that a specific product or service will be completed in a timely manner without additional cost.



Final thoughts

Delegation can be scary for entrepreneurs, especially if they have gotten used to having everything done exactly the way they want it, but the benefits of delegation in growing a business cannot be ignored either. Let go of the fear of delegation and get back to enjoying what made you start the business in the first place – your employees and the business will thank you for it.


This article has been edited.

Carl Gustafson is the Clinical Trainer at London Cosmetic Clinic, a premier boutique cosmetic clinic in the Gold Coast, Australia. With over 10 years of experience with cosmetic injections under his belt, Carl has seen and experienced, through the places that he’s worked and the clients that he’s treated, the importance of delegation when it comes to running a business successfully. Connect with @LondonClinicGC on Twitter.


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