The Five Costliest Delegation Mistakes
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"But I can't delegate that!"
I hear excuses like this from up-and-coming advisors daily, and I call B.S. every time – you can delegate everything but family, faith, and client-facing time. Those three things are absolute and require personal time and commitment.
Everything else? Push that off your plate and into the hands of someone else whose skill set is more adept than yours.
You can't run surge meetings or have a top-performing RIA without delegation. Here are the top five mistakes I’ve made in my practice and ways you can prevent them altogether.
1. Making excuses
Regarding delegation, follow Joko's example, take extreme ownership of your business, and stop making excuses.
"It's not worth it to delegate."
"That can't be delegated."
"I can't delegate until I get to x, y, z, level."
Those are head trash reasons for why you can't delegate. In reality, you can't afford not to delegate. You can't grow your practice – and you can't surge – without the support of a well-trained staff.
If you think about it, you're already delegating a majority of your life:
- You don't sew your own clothes.
- You don't harvest your own food.
- You don't drill and refine your own fuel.
We pay others for the convenience of not having to do these things. Delegating tasks inside your practice shouldn't be any different.
Make a list of the tasks in your workday that bog you down and slows your productivity. These are the things you need to delegate right away.
2. Not managing expectations
Unmanaged expectations destroy delegations. To delegate tasks successfully, you need to empower your team so they can accomplish those tasks.
Once, when I was giving a webinar from my RV using my iPad, I realized that I only had 20% of my data left on this device. I emailed my assistant Victoria and told her that she needed to renew my data because I was about to run out during my webinar.
Unfortunately, I didn't tell her I was using my iPad, and Victoria assumed she needed to renew the data on my phone. About three-quarters of the way through the webinar, my iPad was down to 5% of my data plan.
For me, it was apparent which device needed the data renewed. I should have been specific about which device I needed help with. But Victoria wasn't there; she could only go off the information I gave her, which was a vague request to "renew my data." This miscommunication was utterly my fault.
When delegating a task, you must ask your team, "What else do you need from me to be successful in this task?" This is an open-ended question, and you'll get an open response. If your team asks you a question about a task – even painfully obvious ones – be open, courteous, and give them a positive response.
Never be negative during a delegation – you'll kill it, and your team will be afraid to ask you questions or seek your help.
3. Blaming the person before taking ownership
There will be mistakes when you delegate. You don't employ a team of professional mind-readers; the person you delegated to won't do the task exactly as you envisioned, or they may screw it up.
Yes, their foul-up is 10 times worse than if you did it – but that doesn't make them an idiot; it makes them human. And in most cases, the mistake isn't catastrophic (but I know at the moment, it feels that way).
Take responsibility for the system's failure when things go wrong. Ask yourself, "Where did I not create effective systems so my team could succeed? Where did I set them up for failure?"
Once you know where the project was derailed, talk to your staff member. Keep your emotions in check while you take responsibility for the screw-up and provide solutions for moving forward.
4. Failing to check-in
Quarterly check-ins with my office staff have helped me empower my team and increase the value I provide to my clients.
I block out time each quarter to have a meeting where I ask my team, "What worked really well this quarter?" and put their answers on giant post-it notes.
I make a list of all things – even the little bits – that went well for me and my team. I want to celebrate those small strides, like the quarterly newsletter getting sent off without a hitch.
After we have a list of things that went well, I flip the script and ask, "Where did we have systems that didn't deliver the results we wanted?"
I don't ask "what went wrong" or "who screwed up?" Those questions lead to finger-pointing and hinder progress.
Your team will open up about processes (you) and systems (also you – you're the head of the business) that need refining. Be open to what they have to say, and while it may sting a little, don't get defensive. You aren't asking these questions to trap your team – you're asking so that you can improve and grow.
It's okay to take some time to reflect on what you heard and respond later with solutions.
5. This can’t be delegated
If you find yourself saying, "That can't be delegated—" stop right there and give yourself a mental correction. Think, "No, this is a limiting belief; this thing can be delegated." Then do what you must to find a solution.
It's your head trash that's giving you obstacles. There are always solutions. To find answers, you need to move away from a lacking mentality into an abundance mentality.
If that's too tough for you to do now, then it's time to implement a forcing mechanism.
Every time you personally complete a task instead of delegating, you get to eat a $100 bill. When you follow through with a delegation, enjoy a Reese's Cup or another guilty little pleasure.
List all the things that drain your energy or slow down your progress. With this list in hand, delegate these tasks to a capable assistant.
If you’re already a Backstage Pass or INVICTUS member, mark your calendar for our Member-only Webinar on September 21, 2022 where Micah's RM, Victoria, and Matt's RM, Coleen, will dish all the details about delegation and SurgeTM Prep for our rockstar advisors.
Micah Shilanski, CFP®, is a financial planner who achieves the ‘impossible’. Micah is recognized as a leader in the concept of lifestyle design for financial planners and has spoken at conferences across the country. Micah is an advisor with Shilanski & Associates, a founder of Plan Your Federal Retirement, and a co-founder of The Perfect RIA.