Delegating vs. Abdicating

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Delegating vs. Abdicating

By Anna MaskerIn standard31st May, 2016

300x191 - Passing the baton

Michael Gerber in his book The E-Myth, has a famous saying: ” You need to work on your business not in it. ”

In order to start working “on” your business in strategy, marketing and other management tasks you need to start pushing some responsibilities to your team as you grow.  In our experience there are two types of owners:

  1. Those that delegate
  2. Those that abdicate

Delegation means that you put responsibility on your team to perform within parameters you set, and you hold them accountable for the results the person achieves.

Abdication means the owner, finally relieved  of all the “work,” unloads it on to another person and doesn’t look back.  That person, in the owner’s eyes, is 100% responsible, sometimes without direction, or sometimes with the direction of “just get it done.”   …And the owner is off to their next task.

This second scenario is extremely dangerous for any business.

With abdication, the owner runs the risk of letting someone else control critical pieces of your business.  Sometimes that person is very good, but many times they lack the skills or strategic direction of the owner.  Most of them figure out pretty quickly that the owner doesn’t care what they do as long as it seems like the important things are getting done.

Once they know no one is watching over them, things can turn ugly.  Either they flounder under the new responsibilities, or they exploit their position.

The owner doesn’t know what’s going on until something goes terribly wrong, like fraud,  an HR issue or a damaged customer or vendor relationship.  Then they have no choice but to go “deep” back into the area they were so happy to be free of.

It’s hard to go from abdicating back to delegating, however sometimes it is as simple as establishing some self-imposed accountability tasks for the owner.  Define the parameters the employee needs to operate within, then set up regularly scheduled meetings to go through progress.  The owner is held accountable to review the metrics and attend the meetings.

It’s easy for owners to want to focus only on what they want to do and offload responsibilities to other team members.  It requires a fine balance between delegating tasks and letting people own the results.

How do you delegate and not abdicate?

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