Financial Data
Updated 29 Feb 2020

Inspect what you expect

Walking the fine line between too little delegation, and too much

Nadine Todd, Entrepreneur, 05 December 2014  Share  0 comments  Print

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You’ve built your business, you’re past the break-even point, you turn a tidy profit and your team is growing in line with the company.

The problem is that even though you know you need to delegate if you want to truly grow your business, you’ve realised that in many instances your employees aren’t following through the way you need them to.

You’re not alone. It’s a problem many business owners have faced, and one that many more will continue to face.

So what do you do?

“Long before the 2010 World Cup, I worked for a guy whose motto was ‘inspect what you expect’,” says Onwell Msomi, GM of the 2010 FIFA World Cup team.

“It was a saying I never particularly liked. I’m the type of manager who trusts his team. The problem is that while some thrive under those conditions, others become totally lost. It was a tough lesson to learn, because I ended up having a few critical things fall through in the planning process during the world cup. When you work on a project as huge and time-bound as that one, you must stay close, walk with your people every day and give all the help you can.”

The lesson Msomi learnt was clear: Trust is great, but it must be earned. “In the real world you can’t have a monthly meeting and just rely on the fact that everyone goes away and does what was agreed,” agrees Weigh-less founder Mary Holroyd.

“I don’t care how professional people are, I’ve learnt that they still need to be followed up.”

The art of delegation

Delegation is a fine line. Too little delegation and you end up stuck doing work far below your pay-grade, when what you should be concentrating on is growing the business. Too much delegation and you won’t have enough control of your business and the direction its taking.

“One of the most important lessons you can learn is the difference between delegation and abdication,” says Holroyd.

“At the end of the day, you’re the one who gets into bed with it. Don’t give anyone total responsibility in your business if it’s just a job to them. Don’t let anyone make decisions for your whole company on a ‘just a job’ attitude.”

For Jenni Button, it’s all about checks and balances. “If you choose to delegate, which is something I don’t do easily, make sure you check and double-check that it’s been done, and done properly. Your business relies on it,” she says.



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About the author

Nadine Todd, Entrepreneur

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