Delegation and Teamwork: Keys to Business Growth

Regardless of the business you’re in you’re not going to be able to build a viable, thriving enterprise without the help of others. This is where some entrepreneurs get stuck. Many of us fall into the rut of trying to do it all ourselves even as the business grows. And that’s where problems can begin.

Alfred Peet, founder and former CEO of Peet’s Coffee & Tea, Inc., admits his biggest mistake was not being able to delegate. Quoted in an Inc article, http://www.inc.com/magazine/20010601/22709.html, he said, “I know exactly where I want to go, but I can’t explain every thought, every idea I have for the future of this company. Many people left. I was burnt out, so I had to sell. Do you know what it’s like when you’ve given so much, there’s nothing left?” He sold Peet’s Coffee in 1979 after 13 years in business.

Burn-out takes it’s toll and the business feels the stress.

Don’t let your business take over. I help my clients to take back control of their business and get it to support them – rather than them feeling like they support it.

That’s a huge change in thinking.

In order for that to happen you have to be able to effectively delegate and build your team, both internally and externally

Smart companies are using a new business model where delegation and teamwork is what’s gtetting the job done. Fortunately, the same principles apply regardless of the size of the business.

When business builds to a volume that you can’t keep up, you’ll want to find people with the skills to carry out the tasks that don’t require your expertise. This may be done by hiring staff or contracting with outsiders. It may be done through alliances, joint ventures or connections. Regardless of the nature of the relationship, the key to success in your business will be finding those who can talk your language, clearly understand what you’re trying to accomplish and are eager to be involved in the endeavor.

It’s helpful to know about others who have been successful using delegation and team-building techniques. Little empires have been built using these strategies.

Fast Company profiles the Whole Foods Market in their article, Whole Foods is all Teams, http://www.fastcompany.com/magazine/02/team1.html. “Whole Foods Market, Inc. is the largest natural-foods grocer in the United States. It is also one of the business world’s most radical experiments in democratic capitalism. Plenty of companies talk the talk of empowerment, autonomy, and teamwork. This company has spent 16 years turning those (often empty) slogans into a powerful – and highly profitable – business model.”

They are totally serious with a soft side. Their core operating principles are: 1) All work is teamwork, 2) Anything worth doing is worth measuring, 3) Be your own toughest competitor. Their books are open to the employees and they function by democracy with discipline.
They are in growth mode with $500 million in revenue shooting for $1 billion by the end of the decade.

Clear two-way communication is the key to successful delegation. Ideally the delegatee sees himself as a team member. He knows and has bought into the vision and mission of the business. He understands his position on the team and the responsibility he bears for the success of the business.

Pat Croce writes in his Fortune Small Business article, “Here, Take the Wheel”, http://www.fortune.com/fortune/smallbusiness/inspire/0,15704,681013,00.html, delegation is the key to business growth. He recommends a system consisting of four steps: evaluation, communication, conviction, and periodic reevaluation. His Triple A evaluation looks at attitude, assets, and ambition of any candidate. Read the story of how he built his physical therapy sports business through delegation, guidelines, communication and feedback. He sold his business to a major national health-care provider, NovaCare.

In his article, “Four Keys to Effective Delegating”, http://www.lemberg.com/delegation.html,
Paul Lemberg describes leadership as getting things done through the medium of other people. His four keys to successful and effective delegation are as follows:

1) Give the job to someone who can get the job done.
2) Communicate your ‘conditions of satisfaction.’
3) Work out a plan.
4) Establish a feedback loop.

Paul offers an online Delegation Worksheet, http://www.lemberg.com/tipsandtools.html,
that may help you think through the delegation process.

If you’re feeling uneasy about the idea of trusting someone else to handle an important aspect of your business, you’re not alone. In her article, “Who Can You Trust?”, http://www.inc.com/magazine/20041001/managing.html, Alison Stein Wellner writes that “motives-based trust is what most people think about when they think about trust. It’s based on the belief that another’s intentions and values are closely aligned with your own and forms the basis for most personal relationships.

Wellner states “there are actually two kinds of trust: that based on motives and that based on competence. In a business setting, competence-based trust — based on a belief in one’s capabilities — is far more important. Trust — especially competence-based trust — is a behavior, and any behavior can be learned.”

Motives can be harder to assess, so he recommends leaving yourself an easy out if someone’s motives don’t live up to par.

With the challenges of running a business, often with less staff than you really need, you may not have the luxury of a formal training or communication system. As a second best option, Joanna Brandi, Customer Care Coach, suggests using Teachable Moments, http://SuccessNet.org/articles/brandi-teachable.htm. This includes asking team members to recall their own positive experiences as customers, giving praise when team members are observed doing things right, using customer complaints as clues to where gaps in service may lie and giving people a break when exhibiting extreme stress.

More and more people are realizing that building a successful business means creating a winning workplace. A new not-for-profit organization, Winning Workplaces, was created in 2002 to help spread the word. Their building blocks are: trust, respect and fairness; open communications; rewards and recognition; learning and development; teamwork and involvement; and work/life balance, http://www.winningworkplaces.org/buildingblocks/index.php.

These cameos are meant to give you a few ideas and get you thinking about how you might apply them to your own situation.

It’s been shown over and over again that happy team members see a purpose in their work and feel a deep connection to their workplace. This is key to your ability to grow and thrive.

We’ve only touched on what’s involved in delegation and team building. Hopefully I have raised your awareness about the role they play in growing your business.

Are you ready to build your team?

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TIP:

To help both you and your team members stay on target it’s a good idea to have a responsibility sheet for each person. If there are deadlines involved make sure these are clear and in writing. In addition, every time you delegate something new, record the task, the employee, and the deadline on your calendar. Instill accountability and then follow up.