The Technology of Delegation

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helpSmall business owners really are lousy at delegation – this one I can say with some passion in my most self incriminating voice.

You know, nobody can do it like you, it takes more time to explain it than to just do it. And, frankly, it’s the work you enjoy, it’s where you get the greatest satisfaction and you can’t really let go of it because what will happen then. And yet, something truly magical will happen in your business when you finally realize you must delegate most of what you do today.

Larry Ryan founded Ryan Lawn and Tree over twenty years ago on the back seat of a tractor. Today, he is the CEO of one of the largest lawn services in the Midwest with over 150 employees and he still admits, “the hardest job I have is getting out of the way of my people.”

Growth requires delegation, not to be confused with abdication, and delegation requires systems and processes. Getting all the successful ways you do what you do documented can seem like a monumental task if taken as a grand project one day. The key to delegation and systems thinking is to employ technology married with a checklist mentality.

What I’m really talking about is an operations manual and set of processes that anyone, perhaps several virtual anyones, can operate. Now, don’t freeze up at the suggestion of a manual. Think simple baby steps first.

There are two technologies that I would suggest you take a good hard look at employing staring tomorrow. Let these technologies follow you around for about a month as you note what you do and you may finally find yourself free to properly put a universe of employees or virtual associates to work in your business.

Wiki Intranet – think of a wiki like a high powered scratch pad with built in database, search and formatting. This is the online tool that will allow you to organize and document everything that you do. Here’s the cool thing though. Anyone in your organization can edit and update whatever you create using a wiki. As long as you can scratch out a few action steps, your team or virtual assistant may very well be able to finish and refine your processes. I’ve recently started using Central Desktop for this. This tool allows me to create workspaces, essentially intranets, that I can grant access to various groups for collaboration purposes. So now, when I explain something that I need done, I jot the steps down and capture them in sortable, searchable utopia for all of time. (Central Desktop does a lot more than this and that’s what makes it worth investigating over some of the simple wiki tools.)

Email Management – Email, while the enabling technology of the Internet, has caused some real issues in business. It’s hard to manage, track, sort, respond to and delegate. A new kind of technology is available to even the smallest of business that allows you to create mailboxes for everything you might get email for – sales, service, questions, joint venture offers, quotes, speaking requests, etc. and then set-up collaboration processes that can make it easy for you to build response routines that can be delegated to virtual assistants or anyone, anywhere in your organization. I use Email Center Pro from Palo Alto Software to help manage email follow-up and delegation. I can assign tasks, view responses and filter requests from a dashboard. The best part about this is that even with the flood of email we receive, I can see that nothing gets lost. This is far more powerful from a marketing standpoint than help desk software as it still allow us to delegate, but respond as humans to every type of request, even when some of the staff is on vacation. (Disclaimer: I have a partner relationship with Palo Alto Software for Marketing Plan Pro, which, by that way, also allows me to talk about the software and the incredible people behind it.)

So, you see, by employing technology, like Central Desktop and Email Center Pro, you can document your success systems and perhaps finally start getting effective assistance in a way that will allow you to grow your business beyond your current capacity to wrap your arms around.

Image source: Gruntzooki

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Central Desktop, email center pro, palo alto software

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