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The Art of Delegation

Evan Hackel

Do you know any highly successful businesspeople who are terrible at delegating? I don’t. And if you stop to think about it, I doubt that you know any either.

That is because effective delegating is a vital business skill. And in my opinion, delegation is especially critical for franchise owners who want to grow their current locations and possibly add more.

Why Do Some Franchise Owners Find It Hard to Delegate?

It can happen when franchise owners fall into a pattern like this . . .

An owner starts by buying one franchise and works very hard to make it successful. That owner learns that in order to succeed, it is necessary to stay on top of every detail of running the business. And that owner has a hard time letting go of that style of management, which is actually micromanaging, when the business grows or he or she decides to add additional franchise locations.

One owner cannot be completely hands-on in multiple locations, or in one location when it reaches a certain size. At a certain point, the owner has to hire competent employees, trust them, and delegate responsibility and work to them.

That poses a contradiction for many owners, because the same style of supervision that brought them success earlier on has to be left behind.

Steps to More Successful Delegation

The first step in effective delegation is to do a good job of hiring the right people. 

  • First, you need to have a clear vision and expectation of the roles you are hiring for. Perhaps you’re hiring someone who will help you identify and open new locations. Or maybe a person whose job will be to hire and help you staff up – in other words, an HR manager. Or maybe you’re hiring someone who will be a retail sales manager. To succeed, you need to hire people who have the experience, aptitude and skills to handle the specific tasks you need done. You can then delegate those tasks to them and loosen your control over many details. You can also concentrate on expanding your business. As the expression says, you can stop working in your business and start working on your business.
  • Second, hire people who can be delegated to. During interviews and screening, do they demonstrate the kind of cooperative, personable and enthusiastic attitude that tells you they will be open to being delegated to?
  • Third, hire people who understand and communicate well. You can get a sense of this in interviews. When you explain a current challenge or set of expectations, is the candidate quick to understand and grasp the essence of what you are saying? Is the applicant able to listen well and to ask questions until a solid level of understanding is achieved? Pay attention to this issue. Hiring people and then having to explain things repetitively to them will only keep you micromanaging. And that is something to avoid.
  • Fourth, provide excellent training in the critically important skills the job will require. Often, franchise owners think they only need to hire employees who have lots of prior, applicable experience. Those owners expect that a new employee’s previous experience will take the place of training – in essence, that the employee will arrive on the job “pre-trained.” There may be some truth in that. However, it is always more effective to carefully define the skills your new hires should have, develop metrics to measure them, and to train those abilities.

And Think about Relatability

As you meet with possible hires, ask yourself, “Is this someone I can relate to . . . someone I can see working with closely in the years ahead?”

One way to increase the likelihood of productive, long relationships is to consider offering very promising employees an opportunity to work their way toward limited partnerships in your franchise.