Why Some Leaders Find Delegation Difficult (and What to Do About It)

Not long ago, I did two podcasts on delegation (Episode 42 and Episode 43) and wrote a blog post. However, in this post, I want to address the single biggest objection I get from leaders who struggle with delegation. Care to guess what it is?

It’s usually some variation of this:

I don’t delegate because it takes longer to delegate the task than just do it myself.

Sound familiar? We’ve all used it.

But this thinking is flawed.

The truth is that delegation always takes longer—the first couple of times you hand off a task. But it will save you hours, days, and weeks if you hand it off the right way. This requires creating a clearly documented, optimized workflow, and then training someone how to use it.

Here are four steps you can take in transforming a workflow into a documented procedure. These steps apply to tasks you are currently doing yourself but want to delegate to someone else.

  1. Notice the workflow. Whenever you find yourself repeating the same workflow over and over again in the same way, you have a candidate for delegation. This could be anything from answering your phone, to filtering your e-mail, to updating your blog. It could literally be anything.

    For example, late last year I noticed I spent half a day a week editing my podcast, uploading it to my media server, and creating the “show notes.” Each time, I went through the same exact workflow. I realized I could save two full days a month if I could delegate this process.

    Action point: Identify one workflow you could delegate to someone else. (I’d start with something that is fairly simple.) Now calculate how much time you would save per month if you could successfully delegate this workflow. Extra credit: Calculate how much this time is worth.
  2. Optimize the workflow. Once you have the workflow identified, it is time to fine-tune it. You can do this by eliminating any unnecessary steps. Simplifying your tools can also help.

    You don’t want to put yourself in a position where you have to hire a genius (like you) to perform the procedure. Instead, use your genius to create a simple, reproducible procedure almost anyone could execute.

    Action point: Observe yourself in action next time you run through this workflow. Ask yourself, “What steps can I eliminate or modify in this process to make it easier for someone else to execute?” Extra credit: Explore whether or not there are better, easier-to-use tools.
  3. Document the workflow. This is the difference-maker. It’s where 95 percent of leaders fail. They expect their staff to read their mind and then wonder why no one can do the job as well as they can.

    Assume you are training someone with limited experience. Here’s what I do:

    • Chose the appropriate documentation tool. This could be a Google document, a note in Evernote, or an outline in OmniOutliner. I have used them all, but my favorite new tool is SweetProcess.
    • Write down the workflow as a series of sequential steps. Imagine you were explaining to someone what to do and waiting for them to complete each step before moving on.
    • Start each step with an action verb. For example, “open your e-mail program,” “create a request form,” or “upload the file to the LibSyn server.” These steps should look very similar to items on a to-do list. The person reading it should know when they have completed each step.
    • Use screenshots or screencasts to illustrate each step in the procedure. This can make your process much easier to follow and less error-prone. I use SnagIt for screenshots and ScreenFlow for screencasts. These both allow you to annotate the illustrations.
    • Test your own procedure by going through each step in a live setting. This is where the rubber meets the road. You want to make sure each step is clear and none is missing before you ask someone to implement it.

    Action point: Select a documentation tool. I recommend SweetProcess. You can get a free trial by clicking here. Extra credit: Quickly list each of the steps in the workflow you want to document.
  4. Share the workflow. Once you have tested the procedure and are reasonably confident you have identified all the appropriate steps, it is time to share it with your delegate.

    Treat this as a beta test. (Note: you’re not Moses and these aren’t the Ten Commandments.) Tell your delegate he will likely find mistakes or steps that aren’t clear. Ask him to help you make the procedure better.

    Personally, I don’t regard my workflows as sacred. They can always be improved. If my delegate can get to the same destination via a different route (assuming it is cheaper and more efficient), I am all for it.

    I would share the workflow with your delegate via a cloud-based tool that you can both access. This is why I like Google docs, Evernote, and, especially, SweetProcess. Here, for example, is a workflow I created called, “How to Prepare for a Skype Video Interview.”

    If you want to share it with a larger audience, you might even blog about it. I have done this several times. My WordPress Setup Screencast is a good example of a step-by-step procedure anyone can use to setup a self-hosted WordPress blog in 20 minutes or less.

    Action point: Share your workflow documentation with your delegate. Send him a link via e-mail. Ask him to work through it a couple of times and give you feedback. Extra credit: Share this post with him and encourage him to start documenting his own workflows. This will enable him to get his successor up to speed quickly.

Don’t think of your workflow documentation as a finished product. It is always a work in process. As you discover new tools and think of new insights, you will want to update it.

Yes, delegating something the first time does take more time and effort. You could do it faster and better yourself. But you simply don’t scale. If you want to take your organization—and your life—to the next level, you have to be willing to make the investment.

Question: What workflow could you delegate next? You can leave a comment by clicking here.

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  • http://JonDHarrison.com/ Jonathan Harrison

    I love the action point format of this post – and the content about delegration is excellent – I’ll be sharing this!

    • http://www.MicheleCushatt.com/ Michele Cushatt

      I liked the action-point format, too. Great addition.

      • http://michaelhyatt.com/ Michael Hyatt

        I might see if that can work on other posts. Cool.

  • http://twitter.com/scheerbrian scheerbrian

    As Michael’s manager, I see a new workflow almost every week. Some of them are for me and some for my business partner. Others are for other people that we’ve contracted to help us get the daily task completed. Joy (my business partner) has claimed that we have gone mad with the amount of workflows Michael creates but I can tell you without a doubt it is one of the most effective ways to keep everyone on the same page and moving in the same direction. I absolutely LOVE the way Michael utilizes workflows for our team. He has empowered all of his team by using these and I highly recommend you do the same for everything you do.

    These screencasts will become your ‘dynamic’ company manual. If somebody leaves their post, another person can easily step right in. Can you imagine how much time you will save in training the new person?

    Make the commitment to do this. Not only for yourself but more importantly for the team you have working with you!

    • http://michaelhyatt.com/ Michael Hyatt

      Thanks, Brian. It’s so much easier to improve a workflow once you have documented it—as you have with mine!

    • http://twitter.com/jonathandevore1 Jonathan DeVore

      Several folks I know are using screencasts to show an overall process, and then use annotated screenshots and text to show a step by step tutorial below the video.

      Procedures perform two functions – they are used to teach others a process from scratch, but they’re also used as a reference for people who forget one or two steps.

      So screencasts are great the first or second time of viewing (teaching others from scratch), but when somebody needs a quick reference, skimming through a screencast can be cumbersome. Screenshots and a little text make it easier to find the exact part of a process that one forgot.

      If you optimize your procedures for both purposes – teaching and referencing – your delegates will be very happy, and it will take less time to find answers to their questions.

      • http://michaelhyatt.com/ Michael Hyatt

        Great suggestion.

    • http://www.MicheleCushatt.com/ Michele Cushatt

      I know firsthand how much you love workflows!

  • http://www.waynestiles.com/ Wayne Stiles

    I know you’re talking delegation to people, Michael. But the “think of repetitive tasks” also reminds me of the benefit of automating repeated tasks with applications or scripts.

    For example, I use Typinator to automatically insert text in my Evernote journal. I used to have to type it all daily. (This is one delegate you don’t have to pay.)

    Thanks for all the practical content you provide.

    • http://michaelhyatt.com/ Michael Hyatt

      Thanks, Wayne. When I think of my task list, I think what can I (1) eliminate, (2) automate, or (3) delegate. I don’t want to activate what I should delegate. I don’t want to delegate what I can automate. And I don’t want to automate what I should just eliminate.

      I use Typinator, too. Love it!

      • http://www.HireYourVirtualAssistant.com Owen McGab Enaohwo

        Great point @mhyatt:disqus sometimes too in order to automate a task you might have to delegate it first then remove all the chinks before automating it. Personally I follow this steps in order
        1) Eliminate
        2) Systematize (<<<— document)
        3) Delegate
        4) Measure (<<<— track the effectiveness)
        5) Automate / Scale (<<<— once you know it's working then Automate)

        • http://michaelhyatt.com/ Michael Hyatt

          Great steps. (This might be a good quest post.)

          • http://www.HireYourVirtualAssistant.com Owen McGab Enaohwo

            Awesome, I will send one in elaborating on these 5 steps with examples and case studies. Your team can then decide whether or not it’s a great fit. Cheers and I appreciate the opportunity.

          • http://michaelhyatt.com/ Michael Hyatt

            Great, Owen. I look forward to seeing what you create.

  • http://www.davidsollars.com/ David Sollars

    Michael, so topical and enjoyed the clarity of the steps with the action step format. About one year ago I brought in to find a story angle for a global company that was going through a rebranding challenge. The team created exercises and emergent learning experiences to draw out the story within their story. We combined metaphor, storytelling and arts based exercises to bring these stories to life. We documented it all and handed it off to a very satisfied client. We wanted to expand this successful offering by teaching the newly discovered process to others.
    The process was so successful, we turned it into a product.
    Delegating to others was our reason to dig into our process. By refining the process as you just described, we created an entire new offering for our company, branded us as story archeologists and developed channel partners who recieved immediate value from our process. Your post reminds me to go over it again, use some of the tools you’ve suggested and make it better. Thanks again.

    • http://michaelhyatt.com/ Michael Hyatt

      Great story and great application, David. Thanks for sharing.

  • http://forthisisthetime.blogspot.com/ Esther Aspling

    I was just thinking about something like this last night with church admin procedures. I was thinking about using Google docs though. I’d be able to update the doc in real time, so people would know instantly if something changes. I so need to get on that! That baton is getting heavier by the day :-)

    Thanks!

    http://forthisisthetime.blogspot.com/

    • http://michaelhyatt.com/ Michael Hyatt

      Google docs could work!

    • http://LiveIntentionally.org Paul Steinbrueck

      Esther, at my company we’ve been putting all our instructions/procedures in Google Docs. Like you said that enables us to update them real-time and not worry about old, obsolete versions from accidentally being used.

      The baton my feel heavier at first, but trust me once you get into the mindset of delegating everything you possibly can like this, your load will get lighter, and you’ll find yourself able to spend more time doing the work that you thoroughly enjoy.

      • http://michaelhyatt.com/ Michael Hyatt

        By the way, this is one of the reasons I like SweetProcess so much. You can update in real time. I just love the way the procedures look.

    • http://www.MicheleCushatt.com/ Michele Cushatt

      My son’s high school uses Google Docs for the same reason. The teachers can get the same updated info out to all the students in real time. And the students can add their work to Google docs when at home, to be ready for the next day of class. It works very well for everyone.

  • AlGetler

    In a previous post, Michael recommended the book “The Ultimate Sales Machine”. Luckily one of the area libraries had it on their shelf. I devoured it and bought a copy immediately.

    The author, Chet Holmes, says in his chapter about training, “Deliberate and constant training radically improves employees’ understanding of company objectives and helps to raise and set standards of performance.”

    Now replace the word “training” with “delegation” in Holmes’ sentence and the result is the same. In fact, delegation IS training.

    When I delegate a task to a member of my team, I am teaching them something new and I am giving them a new opportunity to grow. I am now replicating what I know and I am allowing someone else to run with it. After a few check-ins and a few inspections of what I expect, that person is ready for more.

    I once had a sales manager that reported to me. I wanted this person to grow, to take on new projects and to lead from a high lever (go from ground level to, say, 30,000 feet). The manager was, unfortunately, completely incapable of delegating and couldn’t grow. Sad and frustrating for both of us.

    When you delegate, you train. When you train, your team grows. When your team grows, you can now grow.

    Great post.

    • http://michaelhyatt.com/ Michael Hyatt

      Thanks, Al. Chet is a master at this as is Michael Gerber (who also endorsed Chet’s book).

    • http://www.HireYourVirtualAssistant.com Owen McGab Enaohwo

      @AlGetler:disqus you are right. This is why I made the conscious decision to remove the word “Outsource” from my vocabulary and instead use the work “Delegate”. Outsource seems passive like you are letting go and abdicating the task at hand while Delegate is active whereby you continuously trust and track for improvements.

      Yes The Ultimate Sales Machine is an awesome book. Loved it!

  • http://SourcesOfInsight.com/ J.D. Meier

    Great point on actually testing your workflow.

    It’s so easy to document something, that when you step through it, you find a big gap between what you documented you do, and what you really do that works (including the non-obvious assumptions and decisions and judgments you implicitly make along the way.)

    On delegation …

    If you think of “the business of YOU”, delegation is like outsourcing capabilities.

    “Sourcing” is a strategic decision.

    Like a great business, you want to keep your core capabilties, but relentlessly outsource the non-core activities.

    In strengths terms, do more of your unique strengths that contribute to your mission, and delegate the rest.

    When you delegate (or “outsource” your non-core capabilities), you can radically improve your success. One way is to first identify what type of outsourcing it is. For example, in Enterprise Architecture as Strategy, Jeanne W. Ross, Peter Weill, and David C. Robertson, identify three outsourcing models:

    1. Transaction – Narrowly defined, repeatable process.
    2. Cosourcing – Project management and implementation.
    3. Strategic Partnership – Broad responsibility for operational activities.

    Each of the types has a different success rate, and strategy for success.

    Another success factor is using “Situational Leadership”, to adjust how much “directing” and how much “motivating” you provide.

    Three commmon ways where folks tend to fall down when delegating are:

    1. They didn’t turn it into a transaction (the process isn’t really mature or known)
    2. They micro-manage and kill the spirit and potential innovation of the person taking it on
    3. They chose the wrong person (it’s a non-core capability for them, so it turns into a motivation and ability challenge for you)

    • http://michaelhyatt.com/ Michael Hyatt

      This could be a post of it’s own, J.D. Well done! (Thanks for such a helpful comment.)

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  • http://LiveIntentionally.org Paul Steinbrueck

    Michael, this is fantastic post! I agree with you that a reluctance to delegate is one of the biggest things holding many people back. It’s been holding me back, and so one of my top priorities this year has been to systemize and delegate many of my work flows in a very similar process to this.

    Another method I’ve been experimenting with to delegate tasks even more quickly is to use a video screen capture tool like Jing. I will record myself doing the task and explain it step-by-step as I go. Then I will send the video to someone on my team and ask them to type up the steps in a Google Doc and create the written form of the work flow for me. The end result is both written step-by-step instructions and a video example, both available online so I can share them with other members of my team.

    • http://michaelhyatt.com/ Michael Hyatt

      Screencasts are a fantastic way to document a workflow. I often use these as well. (I mentioned ScreenFlow in the post. It’s a great program for this.)

    • http://www.HireYourVirtualAssistant.com Owen McGab Enaohwo

      @PaulSteinbrueck:disqus great points! People learn in four different ways; Visual (<<<— see), Read & Write, Auditory (<<<— listen), Kinesthetic (<<<— do / taking action). When documenting your procedures you can increase the level of understanding by incorporating Screenshot into your procedures in the form of images and embedding video demos so that folks can watch and listen to how you do it. Including texts, step by step so that folks can read to get more details about each step. The delegation part is the "do" style of learning whereby someone takes the procedure and takes action on it.

  • http://www.facebook.com/briank.ives Brian K Ives

    Concerning delegation, I began to ask myself if I wanted long term success or short term success. I understood that if I wanted long term success that I had to delegate, and if short term success was all that I wanted, then I didn’t have to worry about delegating.

  • http://casjam.com/ Brian

    Thanks Michael for this very helpful post and your recommendation of SweetProcess :)

    Great point about optimizing workflows. I’m constantly going back and tweaking mine, and I also ask my assistant to tell me where he finds areas that can be improved (since he’s the one “on the ground” executing my procedures).

    Thanks again for the SweetProcess mentions :)

    • http://michaelhyatt.com/ Michael Hyatt

      Thanks for creating a terrific product, Brian. I can’t wait to see how it evolves.

  • http://www.danerickson.net/ Dan Erickson

    This is great, but for the most part I’m not in a position to delegate because I can’t afford to pay anyone. I did find a narrator for my books and it’s great to just let him take care of that part. I wish I could delegate some of the technical issues I have with the blog.

    For instance, just this morning I woke up to find my comment numbers all out of synch. I have no clue why it happened or how to fix it. I did a search and guess who came up on a WP forum four years ago about a similar issue… that’s right Michael… you. But the whole thread included code and I’m lost when it comes to code. Maybe I need to hire the guy from my IT Dept. at work who knows WP to fix the issue.

    • http://michaelhyatt.com/ Michael Hyatt

      I understand your plight, Dan. But think what you could do (that would generate income) if you weren’t doing that other stuff!

      • http://www.danerickson.net/ Dan Erickson

        True, but I still need to gain a larger following to generate the income. It’s a bit of a catch-22. I know there are things I could do (free and/or low cost non-fiction ebook about a practical topic , a more narrowly defined blog topic, etc.).

        I know I can write non-fcition, self-help type of work, but I tend to put more emphasis on my love of creative writing and that can be a hard sell, so until something “catches fire” all my time put into creative writing is merely for the love and therapy of writing and a hope for future income. I do see progress, small but continuing traffic increases and book sales, but it’s not generating enough income to start paying for help to delegate duties at this point. I spend a little on FB and Google promotion, and I may have to hire tech help to solve the comment glitch. I also like to try to solve problems myself so that I gain a better understanding of the process and the system.

        I understand your the idea of your post today, and I believe there will be a day when I’ll have a larger team and will use the ideas. Thanks for sharing.

        • Richie Allen

          Small WordPress things like that could easily be taken care of by hiring someone on Elance.com or Tweaky.com for $50 or less.

          I imagine you could generate more than that in the 4-6 hours you might spend trying to learn how to fix it yourself. :)

          • http://www.danerickson.net/ Dan Erickson

            Thanks for the ideas Richie. I’m leaning toward making my blog more personal and less about generating income, but I still will want potential readers and these sites may come in handy.

  • Andrew McNeal

    This is a great post on how to migrate work but I think it misses one of the biggest obstacles to delegation, trust of subordinates or peers.

    Delegation should be easy. It should be as simple as describing the end result and setting a timeline. However most delegation in the workplace revolves around telling the delegate exactly how to do something. Rarely do delegators give them the latitude to do figure it out on their own.

    There is risk involved when you do objective based delegation. You can count on a few screw ups. But after you delegate to a person like this a few times they get a feel for what you want and you can hone your delegation. So start small and have a plan B until trust is built up.

    • http://michaelhyatt.com/ Michael Hyatt

      Fair point.

    • http://www.HireYourVirtualAssistant.com Owen McGab Enaohwo

      @Andrew great point. This is why after creating a procedure on a recurring task in your business, give your team members the incentive to improve the procedure and reward them for doing so. This way it becomes fun and they can take ownership of updating the procedure over time. For instance if you created a 14 step procedure on how to balance your books and then your team members comes up with a way to get it done faster and more effectively in only 7 steps. (<<<— praise them for all to hear!)

  • Jesse DeYoung

    Michael–Excellent post. Clear cut and immediately able to put it into action. This will be so useful in utilizing and leading my newest team member.

    Could I suggest a follow-up post sometime in the future (perhaps you already have written about this) about how to train a team member to THINK about certain things the way you need them to, so that they can “delegate to themselves”.

    Thanks again!

    • http://michaelhyatt.com/ Michael Hyatt

      You might share this post and encourage them to begin to think this way and document their own procedures. I have done that in the past with team members.

  • http://twitter.com/jonathandevore1 Jonathan DeVore

    Great post!

    I’m trying to systematize how I perform outreach to various influencers. I use BuzzStream to keep track of all the contacts and outreach efforts – it’s a great SaaS that allows you to easily systematize the process. I can delegate the mechanics and focus on the core of reaching out to others.

    To document stuff I use Clarify or ScreenSteps Live (after all, my team develops both tools : ) They’re very similar to Sweet Process. The main difference is in how one goes about capturing screenshots and posting them online – Clarify and ScreenSteps Live make it a little easier to use and manage multiple screenshots.

    You hit on one of the most important points at the end – documentation will enable a successor to get up to speed quickly. So much time is wasted training and retraining due to turnover and/or growth (people getting promoted and being replaced). If you don’t have documentation, succession hurts.

  • http://garymorland.com/ Gary Morland

    Michael, you are a gift. I’ve been waiting for this and didn’t know it. Thank you.

    • http://michaelhyatt.com/ Michael Hyatt

      Awesome, Gary. I’m so glad.

  • http://twitter.com/tellmisty Misty Williams

    Michael, this is so good and clearly communicated, I just shared it with several of my clients! This is precisely what we do with our team and our clients; creating workflows and tracking them so that we can efficiently execute for our clients is kind of my genius (We call it “Marketecting”) and in my opinion, Basecamp is THE tool for managing workflows!

    I use Basecamp Classic for us and for all of our clients because it has a better template system than the new Basecamp (you have to specifically ask support to give you a Basecamp Classic account). It allows us to activate templates (or “workflows”) as tasks arise, assign them with due dates, add to-do lists to a calendar so we can see Milestones, create what they call “Writeboards” (which would be like a page in Evernote) to store permanently in a workspace things like logins and important notes to facilitate execution of key projects or tasks … Basecamp totally rocks. I have looked at other systems lots (I’m always looking for things that will make us more efficient and more connected) and I haven’t found anything better for our space.

    I actually use the entire 37signals suite (though I think Batchbook is better than High Rise) and it’s made us soooooo efficient. My entire team (about 20 contractors and growing) is looped in; we have full adoption (which is KEY) and our process are tight. We work by a very similar philosophy as you do, it seems. I’ve always admired what a great systemizer (and communicator!) you are, Mike. I see it in everything you do. :)

    • http://michaelhyatt.com/ Michael Hyatt

      Thanks, Misty. I love Basecamp too. I don’t use it myself, other than as a participant in several projects.

      • http://twitter.com/tellmisty Misty Williams

        I should create a quick video to show you how we use it … we use it WAY more in depth than most and it rocks. Most people under-use it so they don’t realize how powerful it can be. I think it’s hands-down the single most important piece of collaboration cloud software that we use. It’s more important than Google Apps, even. LOVE it!

        • http://michaelhyatt.com/ Michael Hyatt

          I’d love to see that, Misty. Let me know if do a quick video. Thanks.

  • http://juliesunne.com/ Julie Sunne

    I can definitely see the power of documenting the workflow. Another Evernoted page for future reference. Thanks, Michael.

  • http://www.revolutionarylife.org/ Dustan Stanley

    Thanks for this. I realize that this indeed is my bottle-neck. Even the reasons stated as to why some of us fail to document was spot-on.

    I think it’s time I take time to make time.

  • http://twitter.com/BarishGolland Barish Golland

    Thanks so much for your post Michael, I’ve never seen a more clearly delineated process for delegation. I was wondering, what are best practices in follow-up and accountability after a leader delegates a process or responsibility?

    • http://michaelhyatt.com/ Michael Hyatt

      You might want to listen to my first podcast where I discuss the five levels of delegation. Much of the accountability and follow-up depends on the level of delegation. Thanks.

      • http://JonDHarrison.com/ Jonathan Harrison

        The 5 levels are great – I provided them to my leader so that we could be on the same page – I have a printout taped to my monitor at work, lol.

  • http://www.HireYourVirtualAssistant.com Owen McGab Enaohwo

    Thanks @mhyatt:disqus for featuring @SweetProcess in your blog post, my co-founders and I appreciate it. I am available to anyone on your site who has questions about how to document procedures. Feel free to ask and I will respond in the comments below.

    • http://michaelhyatt.com/ Michael Hyatt

      Thanks, Owen. I appreciate your willingness to help.

  • http://www.facebook.com/rlatham14 Ryan Latham

    Very helpful. I am director of an internship program so it is very important that we have systems like this in place because we by nature have a high turn over right on our training. I will be looking into sweet process for our team. Thank you for providing great resources.

  • Sean Boisen

    Your argument here is very clear and totally valid, given one key
    assumption: that a describable, documentable workflow _actually
    exists_ (or can exist).

    My biggest struggle with delegation is that nearly every new task
    involves so much creative definition that there’s almost no
    repeatability. As a hypothetical (not my actual job), suppose your job
    was to find and research an important social issue, create a unique
    journalistic angle, and then write a long-form piece. This involves a
    lot of different tasks:
    – discerning what social issues are important, and what criteria to use
    – conducting a unique research investigation (with different sources, methods, and questions each time)
    – having the right “nose” for when to abandon a dead end, and when to stubbornly persist
    – using the available facts to decide on an angle

    Obviously investigative journalists do this all the time, so it’s not
    an impossible task. But it’s hard to see how to boil all these
    requirements for experience and judgment down to documenting a
    workflow. Any thoughts?

    • http://www.HireYourVirtualAssistant.com Owen McGab Enaohwo

      Before Investing (<<<— notice I say "Investing" and not "Spending") the time to create a procedure you should ask yourself these 5 questions:

      1) Is the task required for my business to function properly?
      2) Does the task need to get done on a recurring basis?
      3) Does the task have repeatable steps with a specific start
      and end point?
      4) Is executing the task by myself preventing me from having
      more time to focus on my income generating activities?
      5) When executing the task do I feel in my gut that it's not the
      best use of my time because someone else on my team
      could handle it on my behalf?

      If your answer to at least 4 of the questions below is “YES” then it worth the investment of your time to create a procedure for it!

      • Jim Martin

        Owen, these questions are very helpful! I am saving these for future use.

        • http://www.HireYourVirtualAssistant.com Owen McGab Enaohwo

          @jimmartin:disqus I am glad you like them. For more details on these 5 questions and examples feel free to download the systemization checklist on the SweetProcess blog.

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  • http://www.apprenticeshipofbeinghuman.com/ Graham Scharf

    As a parent, it strikes me that there’s a direct application for parenting. If kids know the routine, have a clear set of expectations (written, if that is age appropriate), and the authority to do the tasks, it is easier on everyone.

    • Jim Martin

      Graham, you make a good point. When our children were growing up, I think there were times when the expectations regarding particular tasks was fuzzy and unclear. That created frustration for all of us.

    • http://JonDHarrison.com/ Jonathan Harrison

      I remember that my mom used to make drawings for me on my do to lists as a child – it really made chores more fun!

  • Mark A. Hernandez

    Information at the speed of access…Michael, love this power tool that will keep me focused on my strengths and multiply my performance through delegation.

  • http://twitter.com/NikoleHahn Nikole Hahn

    I loved what you wrote about how bosses think we can read their minds. Kind of like wives thinking their husbands can read their minds when we don’t clearly explain what we need them to do. LOL.

  • http://www.seannisil.com/ Sean Nisil

    My industry is highly regulated and we are consumed with mandated procedures. ALL of which are written. I love the idea of making screencasts for our procedures & workflows. Much more dynamic and engaging than what we currently are doing for training and delegation.

    Great post!

    • http://www.HireYourVirtualAssistant.com Owen McGab Enaohwo

      @seannisil:disqus you hit the nail on the head! By creating dynamic and engaging procedures it will make it more fun for your team members to use them and will encourage them to help you improve the procedures overtime.

      • http://JonDHarrison.com/ Jonathan Harrison

        @seannisil:disqus @PropertyLion:disqus – That really is a great way to incormporate “Wow” into a potentially dry procedures. I love how great ideas like this can also give birth toother great ideas – I’m sure that team members will be inspired by this!

  • http://twitter.com/reneefishman Renée Fishman

    Michael, I always enjoy your posts but this is the first time I have felt inspired to comment. I love the “Action Steps” included in your post – it takes it from being “useful information” to “really helpful now.” I learned a few years ago that just hiring someone to whom I could delegate was not enough; I had to document my workflow and get really specific. I agree with those who recommend screencasts and screenshots. A well-annotated screenshot communicates much more effectively than a paragraph of text. I have found also that for delegation tasks that do not involve workflows — for example, transcribing audios, drafting form letters, etc. Templates and Style Guides can help a lot. For example, I created a template for any document that I will need to create more than once – invoices, transcripts of audio recordings, forms used in my business, etc. and I have a style guide that outlines my preferences on everything from what fonts to use (and avoid); what colors; paragraph spacing; etc. for me the biggest challenge is the catch-22 of being able to consistently afford delegation, but that doesn’t mean I shouldn’t be set up to delegate

    • http://michaelhyatt.com/ Michael Hyatt

      Great comment. I’m glad you like the “action points.” I am going to try and incorporate those more.

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  • http://www.jaysonfeltner.com/ Jayson Feltner

    This is great. It’s exactly what I needed! It’s like you’re speaking directly to me. Perfect timing.

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  • Cody Northen

    That
    is practicality all the way down to the floor. The only way to be more specific
    about what to actually do would be to tell us what key on the keyboard to type
    as we document each process. Michael, in many restaurants in our chain, we have
    a real-issue. Our businesses constantly take on more complexity, which really
    demands that that we increase developmental “off the floor” time with
    a simultaneously growing number of leaders. Even stores with a pretty generous
    labor line have a very difficult time getting our all-stars “off the
    floor” due to the wonderful issue of having gazillions of customers all
    the time. I am banking on this tip you’ve shared to help me get more delegation
    accomplished, not only to get more off of my plate, but to get my top tier managers
    getting more out of their teams per your last “extra credit”
    suggestion. Can’t wait to give it a test drive!

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    What you put out quite practical and profound. In fact we have to realize some things, but through these new things are made clearer.