By Adam Wright, president, CEO and co-founder of Associated Graphics (AGI)
We've all heard the phrase, "If you want something done right, do it yourself." But as a business owner, this type of mindset will serve only to stunt progress. Yes, you'll save time in the moment by taking care of all the important tasks yourself. But a CEO who cannot learn to give up some control will sentence the company to minimal growth. Here are three tips to keep in mind that'll ease the stress of delegating.
1. Check your ego and hire people smarter than yourself.
My company began as a two-person venture. I handled the sales and marketing while my co-founder took care of production. We began hiring employees after just a few months. Today, we install graphics on massive fleets for clients all over the country. How did we expand like that? It starts with bringing on the right people.
From day one, we tried to be very strategic about our staff. We avoided hiring "yes" people because we wanted a more collaborative environment that would help us grow. This is where, as the CEO, it's important to check your ego. A team that agrees with you 100% of the time does you, and your bottom line, no good.
Simply put, strive to hire people who are smarter than you are. I don't want employees who just wait for instructions. I want to be surrounded by people who will challenge my ideas and create solutions that will enhance our operations. When you fill your team with dynamic, creative people you can trust, delegating becomes much easier.
2. Ease into the transition by handing off smaller tasks first.
Giving up control is not necessarily easy. But sometimes, you just have to get over yourself. Micromanaging shows a lack of trust. You just spent all that time hiring a team of people who could do the job better than you -- so let them.
In our early days, our first employees worked on the production side of things. My co-founder had all the responsibility for delegating. But as we expanded, I didn't have enough hours in the day to manage all of our clients and pitch to new customers.
Hiring our very first sales person was strange for me. I had always been the face of the company; I was the person that clients interfaced with on a daily basis. Suddenly, it was my turn to relinquish some control. I took the time to train this new employee, especially about our commitment to superior customer service, before handing off major customers to him. And it paid off in a big way. Clients raved about him.
That praise quickly changed my thinking and helped me to see the bigger picture. As long as you train new people correctly, you can expand your team even further and increase your profits. You don't always need to be the face of the company.
3. Think of yourself as a coach.
I've mentored other business owners and startup ventures. Over and over again, I see CEOs who struggle to relinquish control. The common argument I hear is, "Well, by the time I've finished explaining, I could have just taken care of the task myself."
While that may be true, it's short-term thinking that will severely stunt company growth. If you don't trust your people and don't delegate, it could take years longer to expand as far as you want.
I compare my job to that of a sports coach. I once knew a basketball coach who understood the sport inside and out. Like a business owner, he was an expert in his particular field. But he didn't know how to be a leader. This coach did not understand how to motivate his players or adequately explain the game plan.
He also failed to build a true team mentality. Players on a sports team, like employees in a company, need to believe they are part of something bigger. It's about more than just winning today's game. It takes a unified team to accomplish more long-term goals.
As a business owner, it's your responsibility to clearly communicate your objectives. But most importantly, it's on you to foster an environment that your "players" want to share in. It's your job to inspire them to truly believe in the team's mission, as opposed to just showing up to collect a paycheck. This type of workspace, in which everyone is on the same page and working toward the same goals, is much more powerful than if you had insisted on trying to do it all yourself.
Adam Wright is president, CEO and co-founder of Associated Graphics (AGI), the nation's leader in fleet, vehicle and environmental graphics.