Saturday, January 17, 2009

It's Easier If I Do It Myself!

Have you ever said, "It's easier for me to do it myself, than to get someone else to do it - because they either don't know how to do it or they don't know how to do it right."

I can't tell you how many times I've said, thought, or heard those words over the course of my lifetime. And quite honestly, when you live only for the here and now, it is true. But, unfortunately, in most situations, if you consider what you are really trying to create in the long term, it is rarely the right response.

Sadly, in today's world, most of us live only for the short term - here and now - and forever live frustrated with this attitude.

So, if you want to be a business of one for the rest of your life, always doing everything yourself, then that attitude works just great for you. Just recognize that when you are a business of one, then quite honestly, you aren't a business at all - you are just self-employed (and pretending to run a business) - present company included.

This may surprise you, but when you look over the course of history, every great leader and business owner has built systems that run his business - and his people just run the systems. So, if you want "real long term business success", whether you are an owner or a manager, then the "do it yourself" attitude is not going to get you there. Real business success is about building systems that leverage the work of others - teams of others. And just because you don't actually do the work, doesn't mean that you can't get the consistency that you want.

Now, the truth be told, it's not easy to build systems and / or teach others how to do things (let alone how to do them right), but nothing worth doing is ever easy. There are times when you have to do things yourself - but more times than not, it just feels that way.

Unfortunately, this is not a habit you are going to break overnight. It takes time. The best way to attack the problem is to start small. Find a single task that only you can do right now, figure out how you do it, write it down and hand the responsibility to someone under you. Oh, but wait. There is two more things that you must do to ensure success. And these are the two steps that are most commonly left out.

The first is defining what is unacceptable, acceptable and great results. This means that not only do you have to give them the procedures to work with, but you also have to tell them and show them what the measures of success of that system are - how you are going to judge their performance on the job.

The second thing that is often forgotten is actually training them how to do the job, until there is no doubt in both of your minds that they know both what to do and what the end result should look like.

Then, sit back and enjoy your newly found time off. Right?


You job is now ensuring that the system is followed. You must hold the newly trained employee to produce what is expected. In the early stages, you may need to spend a bit more time with them. But as you gain confidence in their understanding of the process, and they gain understanding of the desired results and your commitment to achieving them, they will perform.

Then and only then, do you get to sit back and relax and enjoy the fruits of your labor . . . and theirs.

That is until you start the whole process over on the next procedure.

1 comment:

  1. I know your advice is aimed at entrepreneurs, but I'd like to toss in the view of an engineer who is expected to scaffold other peoples' ideas. We need our leaders to open doors and plow through organizational barriers for us. We're often isolated and un-empowered to solve the problems we're saddled with.

    That being said, in my work with you, I've always felt like I had the backing to get things done, even if it involved some conflict sometime.

    Let producers produce without feeling micro-managed and they'll come through. Not sure how you find "producers" though...