How many times have you heard someone say this?
It’s an easy turn of phrase. A cliché we trot out to sound funny or dramatic or important. But when you scratch the surface, you realize what a loaded comment it truly is. It means no one else could possibly do this task as well as I can. That if I let another person do it, the outcome will be wrong. That, essentially, I am the only person on the planet who can successfully see this project through.
This is where delegation comes in – or should, anyway. It’s an important skill for a leader to have, and yet it can be one of the most challenging, especially for people who enjoy being in charge. Why do so many people struggle with delegation? What’s at stake if they don’t? And how can they learn to let go? In this installment of Conversations from the Corner Office, we posed these questions to ID Plans CRO Seth Garber. As someone who always has a lot of irons in the fire, he had plenty to say on the topic.
SG: Leaders tend to struggle with delegation primarily because they have a very specific expectation about the way things should be done. They think about a task and they only see it being accomplished based on the way they look at it and not how others might approach it. Then they get in the mindset that they’d rather just do it themselves rather than have to worry about how someone else might accomplish it.
SG: Years back, I used to struggle with it a lot. What helped was having a great mentor who taught me to shift my mindset. They said, “Any time you delegate a task or project, set the expectation that it’ll be 90 percent as good as if you had done it, and then 10 percent the creativity of the person you delegated to.” That advice has allowed me to step back and not put my team in a box, and most of the time, the person I delegate the task to ends up outperforming my expectations. Part of that comes back to trusting that you’ve hired the right people to begin with – you believe in them and their ability to get the job done.
SG: When I have the feeling that I want to get involved with something, I take a moment to think about the cost and the benefit. The cost of leadership is more expensive so if you can’t give a project to someone on your team, it becomes more expensive to execute. I’ll ask myself, “Is my time better used doing this or not?” Sometimes it’s just not cost effective to get involved and then I know it makes sense to delegate to someone else. The other thing I think about is whether I’m delegating because it’s a task I don’t want to do or because it’s a skill set I don’t want to be using. I used to just delegate things I didn’t want to do. Now I always think about the skill set first in terms of doing what’s best for the company.
SG: If you constantly tell your team, “I’ll do it,” and you don’t feel confident you can delegate, it really starts to put your company culture in a box. Everything becomes task-oriented and not creative, and it can really slow down growth. It can also end up creating silos and eliminating collaboration opportunities. Basically, if you’re not delegating and your team can’t work with other departments, all you’re doing is stopping the growth of your leadership team.
SG: You can begin by looking at your team and determining what their strongest skill sets are, or evaluating if they can be coached to develop them. Then, start delegating small things. Maybe things within the company that may not be ultra-critical but still complex as a bigger project. This way, you get to see how the team member works and as they do better, bigger tasks get delegated. And you always have to keep in mind that the project may come back better than you expected, or there could be challenges.
SG: You have to be fair but firm. If something comes back that’s outside your vision and you anticipate a high potential for it to fail, you have to decide whether to correct it or just to run with it. Personally, I tend to let something fail a little bit so I can provide feedback. I also keep in mind that sometimes we think something is going have a negative impact but it turns out to be positive. You have to keep an open mind while at the same time being ready to step in if necessary.
SG: One of our cultural beliefs is that our sales team members should own the relationship with their customers. While we have a Client Success Team that supports training the customers once they’ve signed on and a marketing team that supports our sales team, our core belief is that the salesperson is the one who is ultimately responsible for the relationship.
SG: We trust our sales team 100 percent to work client facing. That’s not always the case in organizations our size, when the leadership team tends to be involved all the time. We’re always happy to help out when we’re needed, but we believe in letting our sales team take the lead and it’s worked out very well so far.
SG: Check out CEO Tools 2.0 by Jim Canfield and Kraig Kramers. There’s some really great advice in there about how to take advantage of the brainpower of your employees to help them be the best they can be while at the same time advancing the mission of your company. It’s great stuff.
Looking to delegate some of your property management and leasing tasks? Let ID Plans help. Contact firstname.lastname@example.org to learn why our software solutions are trusted by leaders of the top commercial real estate firms nationwide.