Delegating Responsibility Not Just Tasks

Mar 20, 2014, Written by Sue Miley

As a Christian small business owner do you sometimes feel like you are the only one who is truly responsible?  Responsible for the results, not just the activity.

If our employees show up and do their job, but we don’t have cash flow, or the web developer isn’t meeting the timeline for the new website, the employees still get paid.  You may even feel like although your employees truly care, in the end you can’t delegate responsibility for the results of the business.

Or can you?

The solution is to really delegate.  Delegate the responsibility, the authority, and the accountability for the end result.

Accountability for the end results includes:

  • timeliness – meeting project or customer timeliness.
  • efficiency – achieving the result within budgets.
  • effectiveness – achieving the results desired.

Can You Delegate Responsibility to People Who Don’t Own The Company?

I talk to many small business owners that would be nodding their heads right now.  Yes that is what we want, but how do you delegate the responsibility for the company’s performance to people that don’t own the company?

Is it legitimate to delegate responsibility for the results of the company to our employees and vendors?

I believe it is not only okay, it empowers our team.  It motivates them.  If we have the right team, they want to be a part of things that matter and that achieve the goals and objectives.  They want to achieve results.

But if we never explain the big picture, and how their piece of the pie impacts the whole pie, they do what you see everyday….they just mindlessly execute their part.  They don’t even try to problem solve or push through barriers because they don’t really know what they are working towards.  In their minds, it would be a waste of time and they wouldn’t know where to start.  Besides, you have never held them accountable for results before.

Now you want to grow.  You have a team and you want to take your business to the next level.  You want to have your people be responsible for results.

A Results Oriented Team

How do you transition to a results oriented team?

  1. Tell them.  Explain the evolution of your business and your own development.  Explain that you haven’t delegated the full responsibility to them because you a.) didn’t even realize it, b.) didn’t know how c.) felt it was your responsibility or d.) all of the above.  Now you see the difference and you want to show them how important their part is to the big picture and help them achieve the goal with timeliness, efficiency, and effectiveness.
  2. Equip them to achieve results.  They may need training on delegation themselves or follow-up and follow-through.  Provide them with resources for brainstorming and problem-solving.  Give them the same resources and tools you would have used.
  3. Let them know you have their back – Support them.  People in small businesses are only used to really listening to the boss.  If one of the team members tries to lead and solicit help, it is imperative that you support their leadership to the rest of the team.  As soon as they go around the person you put in charge, and you actually respond directly to them, the leader is no longer effective.  The team won’t listen to them.
  4. Teach them to follow up with you on what you delegate.  You need to build the follow-up into the initial delegation.  If you don’t, the leader will always be waiting for you to ask about the project.  Part of the delegation is keeping you updated.  Whether that is a formal report or touching base with you periodically, you need to communicate your expectation for updating you on the progress and exactly what you want to be updated on.  If you don’t, you will still be the one running around to check if everyone is doing what they are supposed to do.  And if this is a new process for your team leader they will quickly resort back to only doing and following up on the things you are checking on.
  5. Give full credit…to them.  If the team accomplishes the goals, they need full credit for the results you made them responsible.  And people want recognition.  Celebrate success.  Make sure that the people who take responsibility for the results know that you know that they made it happen!  And support the failures too.  You have had them and I have had them.  You have to support your team members so that they know that you still have confidence in them and that failure is part of business.

Leadership is Rarely Cultivated, Although Expected

Leadership is hard to find in small businesses because leadership is rarely cultivated, although it may be expected.  Small business owners typical feel like leading or managing is common sense.  They continue to make the mistake of putting people in leadership that are good at execution assuming they will be equally good at leading others.  Or they put someone in charge that is available.  Availability it not enough to create a leader.

Don’t let past failure, from your team to take full responsibility for results, as a sign that you shouldn’t delegate or expect them to be able to achieve the results.

Let Go and Let Your Team Have The Responsibility

This would probably be your “fear.” Own it and let go.

A key to being able to have others share in the burden of the results is your willingness to let them and let go. (A topic for another post!)

In summary,

  • you can delegate responsibility for results.
  • people can actually thrive with that responsibility.
  • to be successful in this delegation, you need to have a clearly communicated plan for full delegation.
  • you need to be willing to let go.

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Sue Miley

Sue Miley MBA, MA, LPC helps small business owners build successful businesses on a foundation of Christian values. After 20 years in business, and 10 years as a Christian counselor, Sue uses a combination of faith, business and psychology to help clients in business and in life.

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