When just getting started, businesses succeed because of their founders’ skill and determination. In later stages, businesses succeed because they’re well structured and have a plan in place to accommodate growth.
Unfortunately, most companies fail to make this transition. The root cause of the problem? It’s often too difficult for founders to let go.
Delegating—or as I like to call it, “the art of letting go”—can be one of the hardest things to grasp for a founder who enjoys having their hands in so many projects at once.
While maintaining a daily role in the company is vital, it’s just as critical to make sure you’re not overworking. Let’s look at a few strategies to ensure you’re delegating appropriately–and to the right people.
We had always taken pride in the informal nature of our company. We had grown up with a bare-bones organizational chart, loose titles and blurred position descriptions. All went well for the first few years, but then growing pains settled in. We fielded repeated questions about growth potential, job satisfaction, and leadership responsibilities, but nothing seemed to clear up the confusion. Only when we took a step back to define our organizational structure, laying out in specific detail which employees were responsible for what, did things begin to flow more smoothly.
Responsibility is just work. On the other hand, accountability implies individual goals, objectives and a clear scope of what’s expected from you. There’s a huge difference between the two, so while redefining our structure, we made sure to emphasize accountability. Each person–including the CEO–has to understand exactly what they’re accountable for in order to grow in a way that benefits both themselves and the company.
In the beginning, my partner and I made all the decisions together–and that was a mistake. Over the years, little tensions built up between us and started getting in the way of our work. We’d spend hours arguing, getting stuck in a gridlock that slowed us down–as individuals and as a company. Once we realized we didn’t both have to be part of every decision, we were able to build a more efficient business and a more trusting partnership.
Strategy is about creating alignment within a team and getting everyone in your boat rowing in the same direction. In terms of delegation, that means each employee in your organization needs to see how the work they’re assigned ties back to your overarching business objectives. That way, they can understand how even the most (seemingly) menial tasks fit into the overall vision you’ve established.
When you’re scaling a company, it’s tough to accept that you won’t always be involved in everything that’s happening. Once you realize that delegating responsibilities will position you and your employees to work smarter, you can get back to what you do best: running a successful company.
Matt Dopkiss is a trained physicist, developer and co-founder of Dynamit, one of the fastest-growing digital agencies in the U.S. Driven by a desire to leverage technology and build things that lead to measurable business outcomes, Matt takes a uniquely scientific approach to marketing. Connect with Matt on Twitter @dopkiss.