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Steve Marr Blog

Steve Marr's contributions

Oct 03
2006

Delegation-A Key To Growth

Posted by: Steve Marr

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Kay, the owner of a florist shop specializing in unique flowers and arrangements, insisted on buying all the flowers herself. Utilizing her knowledge and experience, she selected everything carefully, choosing only the highest quality flowers. She also made every arrangement herself to ensure that "everything would be right." As a result, she had difficulty retaining qualified employees and ended up working many sixteen- to eighteen-hour days. Over time, she became tired and made mistakes, but there was no one she trusted to help her. Rather than enhancing customer satisfaction, her insistence on doing everything herself actually reduced it. Her story is typical of many businesspeople.

 

Effective delegation is one of the more difficult but necessary responsibilities for business managers. By hiring the right people, training them well, and then delegating responsibility, your business will grow. If, instead, you rely on your own ability and what you can accomplish in your own power, you will ultimately stifle the growth of your business and fail to develop the strength of your employees.


When Moses led the Israelites toward the Promised Land, he made every decision himself-and he judged every dispute between the people. When his father-in-law heard what was going on, he told Moses, "You will surely wear out, both yourself and these people who are with you, for the task is too heavy for you- you can not do it alone" (Exodus 18:18 NASB). Moses followed his father-in-law's wise advice and appointed leaders, delegating responsibility for judging disputes, with the proviso that the difficult cases would still be brought to him (see Exodus 18:26). If you are like most business leaders-and Moses-you have a built-in belief that you can do any job better than someone else, and that delegating responsibility will result in shoddier execution. However, if you try to do everything yourself, you will burn out, become ineffective, and choke the very business you want to grow.

 

Effective delegation is a form of reproducing your business effectiveness in others. Effective delegation starts with hiring the right team. Identify the skill-set necessary for success in your business and hire wisely. When the owner of a small chain of automotive parts stores complained to me he could not hire dependable people, I told him that it was because he hired weak people who would not challenge him, so he could maintain complete control over everything. When he changed his attitude and his approach, he was able to build a stronger team and expand his business.

 

Comprehensive training and instruction is the next step in successful delegation. In giving Moses instructions for the design of the tabernacle, God told him to "make them after the pattern . . . [that] was shown to you on the mountain" (Exodus 25:40 NASB). A pattern is a device by which you can ensure that every item produced will be of the same quality. Likewise, your staff will only perform as well as they are trained.

 

Identify the key aspects of each job and develop a training outline. Provide your employees with copies for reference. Carefully explain the details of your plan, and why those details are important. Some people learn best when they watch another person do a job- others will learn better by doing the job themselves while you observe and coach them. Either way, you will have an opportunity to give instruction and suggestions for improvement. Establishing clear guidelines is important. As Moses told his leaders to bring the hard cases to him, you must make sure that your staff knows which issues to bring to you. As time goes on, you should be able to release more responsibility and grant more decision-making authority to others.

 

When mistakes are made, use them as teaching opportunities. Allow your employees to learn from their mistakes. If an employee repeatedly makes the same mistake, determine whether you have provided adequate training or perhaps hired the wrong person for the job. Two primary obstacles will keep us from effective delegation: fear and control.

 

Often we're afraid that if we trust others, they will fail and our business will fail. However, if our businesses are to grow, we must learn to delegate responsibility and authority without fear. As the apostle Paul writes to Timothy, "God has not given us a sprit of fear" (2 Timothy 1:7 NKJV). As humans, we also struggle with our desire to control every aspect of our lives. But if Jesus Christ is the center of our lives, we should have already settled the issue of control. "The Lord has established His throne in the heavens, And His sovereignty rules over all" (Psalm 103:19 NASB). God is in control- we're not. When we delegate effectively, no longer grasping for control of every business detail, we demonstrate our understanding that all earthly authority is delegated authority, and God is ultimately in charge.


Delegation is not abdication of responsibility. Effective managers delegate while maintaining responsibility for ensuring that staff members are performing effectively. Without interfering, effective managers see to it that policies and procedures are being followed and customers are well served.

Steve Marr, Your Christian Business Coach

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