One Secret To Business Success: Scale
As the end of the year draws closer, you’re likely to be ambushed not just by trend forecasts that look ahead to 2012, but also by blog posts and articles that push you to create business and personal resolutions. And while there’s nothing wrong with a swift kick in the rear to get you thinking about what 2012 might bring, I thought it might be cool to share what I’ve learned the real secret to success is. And I’m thinking there’s more than a few of you for whom this might apply, too.
It doesn’t matter what you do or in what industry you work. When you work with successful professionals, you quickly learn the secret to their achievements. In my experience, the common thread is just one simple thing: scale.
Why Is Scale Successful?
I’ve had my own experience with scale. When you start out as a freelance or contract employee, you’re typically focused on finding as much work as you can handle, especially if you’re considered an entry-level employee and aren’t making as much money.
Yet as you learn new skills, solidify your existing expertise and build your client base, you start to receive higher paying work—and more in-depth projects that require more of your time. This is one of many scenarios in which scale becomes crucial to your success—knowing when to drop your less challenging work in favor of opportunities that are going to push you to the next level in your career (and they’re typically more lucrative, too.)
After all, what makes more sense? Working for fewer clients that pay more? Or scrambling to fulfill a high number of smaller projects that don’t pay as much?
If you’re in a situation that calls for scale, it can be tough to figure out what to do with the work you’re ready to relinquish. You can choose to give up the opportunity altogether, or you can delegate the responsibilities to a colleague who may be better suited for the work. And that’s where another crucial component of scale comes into play: delegation.
On the surface, delegating tasks to other colleagues may seem like a cop-out. Or, on the flip side, delegation can seem almost selfish, as if you’re keeping the best tasks and projects for yourself while sourcing out the more tedious responsibilities. But when you’re a manager, in order to be successful, you’ve got to learn to delegate.
And the first step to successful delegation and work flow management – change your thinking about the term. Think of delegation as a positive activity. Also? Delegation requires discipline, responsibility and forethought. It’s easy to hoard a pile of tasks for yourself, especially if you, like me, are a type-A overachiever.
Yet as a manager, it’s important to be able to evaluate your team’s strengths and identify what each person can contribute and then distribute tasks accordingly, By doing so, you’ll create a much more efficient group, not to mention a higher quality of work.
And here’s the most important benefit of delegation: it allows you to focus on areas in which you excel. Consider a creative person, for example. Someone who is brilliant at graphic design may not be the best with numbers and accounting. So instead of struggling to complete balance sheets and other pertinent financial tasks, it’s better for the creative to delegate that work to someone else, resulting in more time to focus on design-related projects—and a higher quality of work, too, since the creative’s time is no longer being split between something that comes natural, such as graphic design, and more laborious financial work that saps the individual’s time and energy.
Every single one of us is wired differently, and being able to recognize what strengths each member of a team has and assign tasks accordingly leads to happiness – and efficiency – all the way around.
Divide And Conquer
Before you incorporate your own delegation strategy, it’s best to do a little soul-searching. Sit down with a pen and paper and jot down what you’re good at—and what you truly love. Then list other tasks for which you’re responsible but that are a struggle to complete. Once you have an outline, you’ll have a list of things that need to be done and can assess your team to identify who can cover the tasks that don’t fall under your expertise. As your team grows, you can continue to filter the work down, giving employees an opportunity to pursue what they love, what interests them and what they’ve been trained to do.
While making your list of tasks that you’d like to delegate elsewhere, you may even spot a deficit in your current team and need to enlist someone new to help pick up some of the slack. Maybe you need an SEO expert, a web developer, a virtual assistant or an accountant. Whatever the role you need filled, seeing things in black and white will help you recruit someone with the skills your company needs to grow and prosper.
Delegation—It’s Not Easy, But It’s Effective
As I mentioned before, delegation isn’t always easy—especially if you’re the type of person who’s used to juggling numerous tasks at once and prides yourself on being able to fulfill multiple roles.
Yet if you embrace delegation and make it a part of your business strategy, you’ll soon realize the value that comes from freeing up your time to focus on what you really love and know. Your productivity will increase, as will the quality of your work. And once you’ve put time into building a team of experts that meets the needs of your business and industry, your company will become exponentially more efficient. Understand that delegation is a necessary part of good business management practices. It’s your chance to shine – and to let your team members and colleagues do the same.
Learning this has been an interesting part of my journey as a manager. And I have my mentor and chief whipcracker, Shelly Kramer, to thank for helping me learn the importance of scale. She routinely reminds me in her spare-no-words manner: “Do what you’re best at – delegate the rest.” Sound advice. And I am getting better at it every day.
What about you? Any brilliance to share or things you’ve learned along the way? If so, bring it on.