One of my readers emailed me recently and asked, ‘Can you provide info on when you knew it was time for an assistant or how you determined if tasks should be handled by you the entrepreneur or by one of your employees/team members? Delegating is one of the single most difficult tasks for budding entrepreneurs like myself it seems, and your wisdom would be much appreciated since you’ve developed and grown so many companies!’
The decision of when to get an assistant is determined by the demand for the CEO’s time and understanding of what part of that demand can be delegated.
Part of the process is to determine whether you, the entrepreneur, are operating at top efficiency and utilizing your best strengths. The entire arena of monitoring a process has to first be addressed by seeing if that process can be minimized or eliminated altogether.
If you are tracking expense accounts, it is likely that the company is paying too much and you should set a discipline that gives limitations up front as to what can be spent for promotions and entertainment (or other categories), so that this does not have to be a delegated task.
When I started to run our factory in France, the original office design layout allowed people to be in different cubbyholes of activity where no one could see what they were doing. To create better efficiency and flow, I had all the walls removed and then situated various operations where I could easily see what was going on from my office. I did not have to monitor the activity of the employees with this setup.
Before you make a determination when to delegate in your business, you must make a decision about what tasks or responsibilities really need to be delegated.
When I bought a specialty company in 1968, the existing procedure was for the sales people to write a report on their daily activities. When I took over, I immediately called a meeting to say there would be no more reports. It was unnecessary to prepare a report because I was only interested in sales results.
Again, the best way to make the decisions about delegation choices is to determine at first if the process truly necessary. If not, the process can probably be drastically changed or eliminated, saving you the entrepreneur from delegation.
If you have to delegate, it is a matter of math: how much time do you have to get the work done? If tasks can indeed be delegated, pick someone in whom you have the confidence to take on the new responsibility. In all honesty, delegate as little as possible from your leadership role, but get support for mundane activities or general practices that don’t have to be performed by you, the business leader and visionary for your company.