Delegation Isn’t Sufficient: You Have to Trust, As Well


It’s one of the surest and most necessary components of the growth of any business, yet it’s sometimes looked at too simplistically.  

“You get to do this now,” only works if your colleague or employee knows he/she has your trust. Without that trust, what you delegate can be undermined from day one.

Delegating Well

In order to delegate, you must first prepare. Write down tasks and competencies without any particular person in mind so as to help you avoid biases or avoid writing things down.  

If you think “he already knows that” what happens when “he” leaves?  (You’ll also find this task of writing down things to delegate will spark other ways you can improve the way your business runs.)

Once you’ve prepared to delegate, have a meeting in which you walk through all aspects of what you’re assigning them, and more importantly, let them know that you will not be there to watch over their shoulder, but rather trust them to make decisions (and make mistakes!)

You made mistakes when you started working on this particular task/issue/skill set, so will they. Give them permission to make mistakes as part of the learning process and they will tell you when something happens rather than try to hide it from you. It’s yet another way to foster extreme ownership.

Keep the lines open

Make sure to check in at regular intervals to make sure your delegate has everything he/she needs. Sometimes they just need an opportunity to chat about something that they considered innocuous but that you could use to give them great insight.  

Often, when they ask you how you would do something, reverse first: “I can answer that, but first I want to hear your instincts and thoughts.” It signals your confidence in them, but more importantly, it gives you the opportunity to say, “Yes, and…” or “That’s exactly what I would say/do,” which is a great boost to his/her confidence and mindset. Remind them of your trust and confidence (and mean it).  

Use it as a building block

Successful delegation is a two-way street. It should free you up to do more of the work that you do best, and it should give your delegate an opportunity to grow in skill and ability. Both of you then have the chance to offer each other more opportunities for growth. Delegation is a machine for growth, but trust is the oil that makes it run.  

As a business owner, you create more enterprise value by proving to a potential buyer that the business operates successfully as a team rather than depending solely on the owner.