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Letting go and giving your staff a go…

We all find it difficult to let go and give others a go.

But the problem in business is – if we don’t – the result is we end up doing or at least being responsible for everything. And that’s a disaster. Business stalls – limited by the workload we, as an individual, can accommodate. Not a great platform for business growth.

But it’s difficult. And with most people I see, the reasons are not due to ego or selfishness or because it is more fun doing the doing jobs than managing.

Letting go is difficult because it is hard to get people in to do the work the company’s way. And it’s expensive to put people in to do jobs they just don’t seem to get.

So, what to do?

Understand the parameters of responsible delegation

Nearly every business owner I come across is overworked with no time to think about what they are doing let alone the tasks they want others to take on. As a result, they have no time and, more importantly, little emotional energy to show others properly how to do the job. So, they just dump the tasks and expect them to know what to do by osmosis. Then they are frustrated because they must go in to do the job themselves anyway.

Abandonment is not delegation – it just won’t work. Responsible delegation is hard work.

So, here are a few pointers.

Define exactly what you want done and what’s important to have done your way

Before you begin, work out what you want done.

Cleaning the kitchen for instance. If it’s me, I want…

Systems for the important aspects of the job

Once you know exactly what you want done. Think about the amount of detail you need to get the job done your way.

My systems will not detail exactly how these jobs are done, unless it is important that they are carried out in a specific way. I have seen so much detail that users become lost and never go to the systems again. You do not have to specify that mopping is done side to side. It doesn’t matter which way the mop is run provided the floors are clean and meet spec at the end.

But it might matter that you specify the product and methods used for cleaning the oven.

Select the right person

It’s important to get the right people doing the job.

I want my cleaners to be into detail and fussy about the result. But I also want them to understand that the job needs to be done to time.

I am also looking for someone who will look after my clients and their approach to customer service is appropriate for the job. Not so important with commercial cleaners who work at night and who will never meet the client.

I am not necessarily looking for someone who already knows how to approach a domestic cleaning job. But I am looking for someone with the personality and attitude to do the job well and hopefully enjoy it.


Accept that it is your responsibility to have training systems in place, so your new staff have the best chance of doing the job well.

Your training system will not repeat what is in your operations. Training will use your operation systems to explain how to get the job done.

This way staff will learn to use your operations systems as they learn to do your tasks your way.

Let them learn

We all make mistakes and learn from them. Training, however good, will only teach a proportion of the job. Most of us learn more on the job.

Performance management and support

So, follow up with sensitive, supportive performance management which reiterates the things that need to be done your way.

And, to provide challenge, interest, and room for growth, increase the complexity of the tasks as your new staff become more skilled.

The crucial question

Finally, every time you are asked how to do something – your answer must be – have you checked the operation system – is the answer there?

If they say yes – then you know it is time to update that system

Keep your operations system up to date

That question will help you to keep your operations relevant and well maintained. Something that is essential if you are going to keep your staff using them and doing the job your way.

The bottom line is, as you add staff to your business, you must move out of doing the job into managing the business. Responsible delegation, with all the work involved is the only way forward.

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