Letting Go Without Losing Control

Letting go of the details can be a difficult thing for a boss to do. This article gives some good tips on delegating, and making that to-do list a bit shorter.

It's easy to understand your need for control. Being a perfectionist is virtually an entrepreneur's job description. But if you work nights and weekends, won't trust employees to do things right, and lack time to plan, you know you need to delegate. The first step, successful delegators say, is to get past the excuses. The next time you think, It's quicker to do it myself, remind yourself: You have more important things to do. I can do it better. You've never let anyone else learn. There's no one I can really trust with this. Hire replacements or better train the workers you have.

I don't have a problem delegating. I am not a micromanager because I hate to be micromanaged. I am not a perfectionist, and I usually don't care how the work gets done, as long as it gets done. But I do have one major problem in this department – dealing with people who bring problems on themselves.

I am a very efficient person. I am always looking for ways to make routine but necessary tasks quicker, so I can spend more time doing the things I enjoy. Many people in this world aren't efficient. They would like to be, but certain aspects of their personality conflict with that goal. That is when I have a problem. Sometimes work piles up on people and they complain, but it turns out they are causing the problems themselves. Sometimes people are anxious about failure and want to triple and quadruple check themselves every step of the way, even when the task isn't that important. Sometimes people don't see the big picture, don't understand how things fit together, and thus they prioritize their tasks differently than I would. Sometimes people won't take the time to learn a simpler easier way to do something, because they have "always done it this way." These people are the kind who are slow and spaced out all day because they are too busy to sleep much. I tell them they should go home and get more sleep so they will work more efficiently, but they believe that will just put them further behind. These are the people I can't deal with. They cry and complain about being behind, and I just want to yell "ITS YOUR OWN FAULT! Your own personality quirks are causing you to be behind because you aren't efficient with your time!" But people don't like to be yelled at, so I don't yell. They also don't like to be told how to do their job, so I don't do that either. I try to ask some questions in a way that makes them realize the problem on their own, but that doesn't always work. Sometimes I just have to do some of their work myself.

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Over time it isn't so bad because as I learn the personalities and work habits of the people around me, I know how to interact with each of them and what type of work they can do best. But man I hate that time period when I am first learning — when I am kicking myself for giving a high priority task to someone who takes twice as long to finish it as everyone else in the department. Maybe someday I'll work with a team of superstars, and I can just sit back and blog all day while they take care of things to perfection. I can dream, can't I?