James: James Schramko here from SuperFastBusiness.com and I’m speaking with Kat Jarman from YourOnlineTeam.com.
Kat: Hey James!
James: Kat, we’ve been talking about team topics and today I want to cover delegation. It’s a big word, right? It’s critical if you want to grow past doing everything yourself. And let’s face it, some people never reach that point. Unfortunately, they hang on to all the jobs, and they’ll limit and cap the size they can grow their business.
If you can actually start getting help, and having other people around you doing some of the tasks, of course, we have to hand over and brief these tasks. So I thought it’d be a great topic for today. Like, how do we actually do that with high degree of success? Because I know this is a point where many people fall over.
Kat: They do! They do, and I know for myself, I used to overthink it a lot. So, delegating, you start to think it through and you eventually talk yourself out of doing it and you do the task yourself because you figure it was just quicker and easier to do it yourself than to teach somebody else how to do it. And that’s true in the short term. But that’s just not the right mindset to have in regards to delegation.
And I was talking to a client last week, and she said, I don’t have time to do a full-on instructional video to pass this task off to somebody else. And it made me realize that I’m not the only person that’s overthinking the whole delegation thing. And so the main purpose of this video I think, is just to let people know that it can actually be a lot easier than they think. You could literally just turn on Loom, which is an awesome tool, use loom.com and film yourself doing a task You don’t have to talk. You don’t have to say, Okay, step 1 is to do this. Step 2 is to log in here. Just film yourself doing it and then pass it off to your VA and tell them to have a go and see what happens. That’s probably as easy as I could possibly make getting something off your plate is turn on the camera and then pass that video on to someone else.
James: Yeah, it’s a really good point. So the point here is, you don’t have to create the standard operating procedure document to be able to hand over. You can have someone in the team do it. In fact, I’ll go even one step beyond that.
Some of the things I asked my team to do, I don’t even know how to do. So I can’t video myself doing it. What I can do is, I can buy them a course on how to do it. And I can say, Listen, I’ve got this task that needs doing in the business. I don’t know how to do it, and I don’t want to do it. I definitely don’t want to learn how to do it. So I want to find out who’s interested in learning this particular thing, and I’ll let them sort of bid for it. And whoever I think the most suited to it or most enthusiastic to it, they can have it and they’ll get the logins and they can log in and do the course and then create the documents and start the process. So that’s one thing we’ve created in our business.
Certainly, I have to thank my old boss, Caroline, for helping me understand the power of teaching people to look stuff up. I used to sit next to this lady Caroline. And I asked her, can you tell me which dealership has the such and such? And she says, Look it up. It’s in the drawer. And I said, but Carolyn, you know the answer. She’s like, I could tell you the answer, but then you’re not going to learn to look it up. What if I’m not here? And then from then on, I was able to start looking stuff up myself. And I learned a valuable skill, it grew me, and it expanded my abilities as the employee. And as the boss, she could focus on the things she was focused on without being interrupted and disturbed.
The fact is, to take this into a long hand example, I publish a lot of videos like the one that we’re making right now. But when I say I publish, I mean, my team and I publish. My involvement in these videos is to do the talking, which I’m doing now. As soon as we hang up, Kat, I’m going to drag that file into a Google Drive folder, and the team will take over and do everything. Now if I were to add up, the amount of videos and podcasts I’ve made, it comes in at well over 1500. That’s 1500 times I haven’t had to watch myself back, pull out any uhms and ahs, add an intro-outro bumper, and format for various platforms. Thankfully, the team is doing that.
So if I was tempted, after this call to edit this video, because it’s quicker and I wouldn’t have to teach someone, I’d be fooling myself. I might be able to edit a video like this in 20-30 minutes. However, if I had to do that 1500 times, that could actually be 700 hours of my life that I can’t be surfing or cuddling my little baby, or having a coffee, relaxing, thinking about my business. So, it’s really important to not fall for that trap of doing it yourself because it’s a false economy.
If you do it yourself, you have to ask yourself this – if not now, when will I teach my team? And to break myself out of the habit, I used to put a post-it note on my screen that said, “Would Richard Branson be doing this?” And as I was typing an article to publish on Ezine Articles about the software I was promoting as an affiliate, I stopped midway and I thought, you know what, I don’t think a high-level entrepreneur will be doing this, and that was the day I hired a writer to handle my articles.
And then as I was answering a support ticket to someone who was claiming their bonus for purchasing said software from me, so, Hang on a minute. I don’t think a high-level entrepreneur is logging into my support desk every day, answering 5 bonus claims. I need to hire someone to do this. And I hired someone to handle my support desk and it just kept going. Before you know it, I had 65 people. We were doing this for everyone else who was having trouble with it.
So I think breaking that habit of doing stuff yourself is probably the most critical step to delegation. In terms of once you’ve got that mastered, and sure you can record a Loom video and what have you. How do you check in to see where the task is up to or how it’s going and if the delegation has happened correctly, or accurately?
Kat: Yeah, I find this is one of the places where the delegation starts to break down sometimes. So somebody will be brave enough to delegate something and then it comes back to them and it’s just not how they wanted it. And the business owner will take it back, and they’ll go, oh, that didn’t work. I’ll just start doing everything myself again.
And there are a few things going on here. Sometimes it’s perfectionism from us, the business owner, or we’re a little bit micromanaging. And I think what you’ve got to do when you’re outsourcing is you need to come to terms with the fact that you are going to have to let go of the outcome somewhat. You can train really well, you can give feedback. So when it comes back to you, instead of saying, that’s terrible, I’ll just do it myself from now on, give feedback and give it back to them. And then it might be a longer process. But in the long term, that outcome, and that effort that you’re putting into the training and helping other people understand how you want things done will pay off 1000 times. Your micromanaging is not going to pay off.
James: Yeah, it’s so critical how you handle that first instance. Like if we accept that it’s unlikely someone will get to exactly the level you could have straight out of the gate. And certainly, there are cases where my team do far better work than I could ever dream of, like that’s one positive thing about outsourcing. When I give out a task, in my mind, I might have an expectation. And I might clearly set the minimum standard. However, I’ve had things come back to me that have literally just blown my socks off. I’m like, Wow, this is amazing. In my mind, I was limited to where I could see it being, and they took it well past that. They’ll produce amazing videos, or they’ll create an illustration that’s just like, even past where I thought. So I’ve learned sometimes to give a pretty open brief. And let them surprise me. And sometimes it’ll be fantastic. Other times it might fall short. And I think it’s how we handle that conversation that makes a big difference.
So in that case, rather than say, Oh, this is crap, I’m just going to do it myself. I mean, imagine how demoralizing that is for your team members. It’s going to plummet their self-confidence, they’re not going to feel like they can extend or risk in the future. And you’re going to shut them down. And also we want to avoid the old shit sandwich, they call it. The positive-negative-positive, like, oh this is good, but it’s pretty crap. But it’s good. I mean, that’s not fooling anyone, it’s better just to be straight out of the gate. I might say, I think this is the area where it could be lifted more to meet the standard that we need this project to be. Can we just focus on that part and have another go at it? That’s kind of a positive direct way of being straight out of the gate and they learn that you will give fair feedback, but in a nice way that helps them understand where the gap is.
And where possible, and this is absolutely critical, show them an example of an A paper. So if they’re putting in a C, you can say, here’s the A paper we’re shooting for. This is why this has got a gap. Let’s go back and rework it to get to that A paper and show them the example, the benchmark. If you can do that, you’re going to save yourself a lot of hassle. These are the little things that I’ve done to help my team start to learn the way that I think and to understand what the standard is for our business.
And I think I brought some of this across from Mercedes-Benz where they’re very strong on brand guidelines and their way of doing things. There was a minimum way of doing things. For example, we had to wear a white shirt. And we had to have a name badge, and we must have a notebook and a pen. If we didn’t have those things on us, we actually weren’t allowed to sell. And we could be penalized to the extent where you no longer have employment. So set the minimum standard. And then someone came in in a blue shirt, it’s easy for the leader to say, hey, look, the standard here is a white shirt. So please go home and change and then come back with what we need to get the job done. It’s that kind of situation. So if you got any final points to add on the topic of delegation?
Kat: I do, I think one of the best things that you can do, if you find delegating really stressful, is get somebody to help you do the delegation.
James: It’s so good.
Kat: Yeah, a lot of the time what we’re doing for business owners, they will say, We want this, this, this and this off our plate. And then we’ll go and teach the team how to do it. And it takes all that back and forth away, it takes the I wouldn’t do a sales page like this, you need to do it like that. And we can kind of be that middleman. So the business owner just pushes it away, “Guys, I’m done.”
James: Well, then your point there is having one central contact point.
Kat: Exactly. It doesn’t always have to be you. Other people can help. When I had a team of 65 people, and we’ve since sold a few of those service divisions along with the team that went with them. So we’re down to six. But when we had 65, we had team leaders of the departments and I actually got to the point where I appointed one VA and she was to represent me. She was my delegate to speak with the team leaders. So I sat down with the team leaders and I said, we’re kind of big now. So I’ve got this one central contact point. You want to talk to me or share things with me just share them with her. And she’ll brief me all at once and I’m going to share things with her and when she comes to you, I want you to deal with her and act upon things that she asked you to do as if it is me. So I had one central contact point for a couple of years there when I had such a big team. Of course, I still do meetings and I went and met them face-to-face and I met with the managers once a week still and had a great relationship.
However, I had that one central point and that’s what your team provides. YourOnlineTeam.com has those people to go into the business and be that central contact point for the owner. And they’re already trained in how to delegate and get a result. So the owner just test to have a clear, concise communication with that person, and then, you know, paint the dream and then they enact the dream with the team that’s there. Or even in some cases, I think you advise and help them build the team that they need to get the job done as well. Right?
Kat: Exactly. Yeah, they can look a little bit different depending on who uses.
James: You might be interfacing with their suppliers in their behalf, etc. So just like I was describing, and I think that’s very smart. And I will say this one little final point on delegation, I believe it’s the obligation of the person sending the message to make sure that message is communicated clearly. You can’ make that obligation on the receiver. You know, a good way to check that the message is going through is to test understanding by having them repeat back to you what they think the brief is. And if it sounds exactly like what you think it should be, then that’s like a tick in the box, and you can move forward. So I found that little test is quite a handy technique to reduce errors.
Kat: Exactly. And I think what you said before about they might surprise you and actually do it better than you, if you possibly just let go and let it happen and see what the outcome is. Don’t be so invested in, you know, exactly how did you get to that outcome? Or you have to do it this way, or it has to be done that way. Just give your vision. Give them some tools and resources that they need, get somebody to help guide them through it. And you’d be amazed what people can do for you.
James: Well, actually, it gets to the point where they start doing tasks you haven’t delegated, it needed to be done to get to the vision and like, it’s logical to them and they’re very savvy with what’s happening. So I’m constantly seeing updates of things that I didn’t even know to ask for. So it’s evolved to that point. That’s when you have a good team and that delegation process worked out well and encouraged and nurtured people to have a go.
That’s an Australian expression. To have a go, to try something without fear of getting stripped down and demoralized from the owner who’s too emotional and tied into the outcome. You know, just step back a bit, be realistic about it. Be patient, and you can nurture an incredible team, especially with your help, Kat. YourOnlineTeam.com. Thank you so much for sharing today.
Kat: Thanks for having me.