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E-Marketing Performance Blog

Drive Business Success Through Delegation

At my search engine marketing company, Pole Position Marketing, I particularly enjoy the role of project/client manager, more than the role of SEO/M. For that matter, I enjoy it more than the role of copywriter, reporter, blogger, link builder, PPC manager, researcher, analyzer, conversion tracker, webmaster, designer, etc. I know this may sound like heresy to some in the industry, but as much as I love everything about SEO, I love running a business more. SEO just happens to be the business I’m in… If it wasn’t this business, it would be another.

To me, running a business isn’t just about making money, it’s about being the very best in the business. Very few people are an island amongst themselves, and even fewer have succeeded solely on their own. I have to admit, I admire many of the sole practitioners in the SEO industry. Frankly I don’t understand how they do it; they perform the SEO, link building and copywriting while keeping up with current industry news and trends at the same time. I know that many of these individuals rely heavily on sub-contractors, but still, they do a large portion of the work themselves. They either have more hours in the day than I do or they are getting paid an hourly rate which I have yet to attain!

D.L. Moody once said, “You can do the work of ten men, or get ten men to do the work.” For a business owner, doing the work of ten men yourself has its advantages. It puts more money in your pocket while also building feelings of pride and self-accomplishment. These are not bad things. But what you lose in time is often far more valuable.

I don’t mind working 10-12 hours a day if I must, but I also have a family which I want to spend quality (and quantity) time with. I recently talked to a very successful woman about her business. She started her business almost fifteen years ago and decided from day one that she was not going to work more than eight hours in a day. Today she flies all over the country and performs seminars for businesses owners looking to capitalize on their wealth, but is still determined to keep her workload to something that can be managed in those 40 hours each week. I admire this too!

I think the goal of any business owner is to grow their business to the point where their presence is not required for the business to operate and turn a profit. At least I know that is mine. That’s not to say that I’d stop working, but it allows my focus to change more to things that I enjoy about my business and let others do the “important” work. In my own company, I make it a point to find (or train) people to know more and be better at certain tasks than I am. I know for a fact that I can’t be the best copywriter and the best SEO and the do best link research while also being the best at managing client accounts. I might be able to be really good at any number of things, but to me, really good isn’t good enough. Like I said, I want my company to be the best at what it does.

Someone once told me, after reading the book Robin Hood, that Robin would not let anyone into his gang that couldn’t beat him up. If Robin could kick their butt in a fight they were out. If they could kick Robin’s butt, they were in. I’ve never read that book so I can’t say whether that’s true or not, but that has always stuck with me, and is an underlying principle on which I operate my business. Ideally, I would not hire anybody that wasn’t already better than me at the tasks required for position they would be filling. In the cases where this can’t be done, I bring somebody in who shows the most potential, train them with everything I know, and then I expect them to advance their skills far beyond the training I provided.

Operating a business this way requires delegation. Many people are unable, or unwilling, to delegate authority despite the fact that this is often a barrier that holds them back from greater success. I came across four reasons why people don’t delegate and wanted to share them here.

Fear of losing authority. Some of us would rather look for compliant people to implement our wishes.

One of the greatest fears managers and bosses have is that their employees may end up knowing more about something than they do. Once this happens, they fear, the employee will no longer need the job and leave. Poor managers combat this by holding on to certain jobs, over burdening themselves with busy work that would best be handled by someone else. Because he or she is fearful of losing his or her position of authority–being the one most knowledgeable about everything–the inadvertent result is sabotaging the business. Delegation requires trusting others to make important decisions and allowing them to gain the knowledge and the skills necessary to do that without your input. That can be a scary thing.

Fear of work being done poorly. In some cases you’re right! But often the hang-up is not being willing to allow others to do the work their way.

If you want something done right, you have to do it yourself! This is very often true, but at the same time, if you don’t want to always be doing everything yourself, you’ve got to delegate tasks to others so they can learn to do it right as well. Will they fail? Often, yes. Will they cause delays, loss of money, and even a lose of a client or two? Undoubtedly, this will happen. But the reality is that you can’t do everything yourself forever. You have to take risks. Those risks will eventually turn into far greater rewards, but there will be some losses and setbacks along the way. Once you realize and accept this, it’ll be far easier to delegate responsibilities to others, allowing them to work through that learning period and into the reward period.

Fear of work being done better. That’s pride! You should surround yourself with people who have the potential to do an even better job, then your work will out live you.

Ronald Reagan had a plaque in the oval office that read “There is no limit to what a man can do or where he can go if he doesn’t mind who gets the credit.” People in leadership positions often want the credit for their leadership capabilities. Delegating means that somebody else might be recognized for a job well done. This fact stirs up the fear that any person getting credit may ultimately surpass you in the chain of command. Don’t be afraid of this. Truth be told, if you are, then they probably do deserve to surpass you. More times than not, however, when someone below you gets credit for doing something great, you will reap the rewards of that as well… after all, you’re the one who had the foresight to delegate that job to the most capable person.

Unwillingness to take the necessary time. Task-oriented people just want to get the job done. They’ve little patience when it comes to waiting for others to learn through trial and error or become capable.

This is my own personal biggest issue with delegation. Time is very important to me, not just because I pay by the hour, but because there is so much to be done and jobs that take longer than they should take away from other jobs that also need to be done. But this is also why delegation is so important. While I may be able to do it faster, I can only do one task at a time. If ten tasks are on your plate, you can delegate all ten of them. While each task may take more time than you think it should have, ultimately all ten tasks get done sooner. Take the time to delegate and be patient through the learning process.

While doing the work of ten men may seem noble, it’s been said that nobody lies on their deathbed wishing they had spent more time at work! But delegating at work isn’t just about freeing up your time to do more things outside of work (clearly a benefit), it’s also about freeing up your time at work to be the brains rather than the brawn. Letting others do the “important” operational tasks frees you up to do what’s really important, developing new ideas that create a bigger, more effective and more profitable business.

Theodore Roosevelt said, “The best leader is the one who has a sense to pick good people to do what he or she wants done, and enough self-restraint to keep from meddling with them while they do it.” Good delegation creates a business far greater than the sum of its parts.

Stoney G deGeyter

Stoney deGeyter is the author of The Best Damn Web Marketing Checklist, Period!. He is the founder and CEO of Pole Position Marketing, a web presence optimization firm whose pit crew has been velocitizing websites since 1998. In his free time Stoney gets involved in community services and ministries with his “bride enjoy” and his children. Read Stoney’s full bio.

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