Three Steps to Overcome Your Fear of Delegation

delegation
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“But I’m not afraid of delegation, I just ________.” 

What’s inside that blank space for you? I’ll share some of mine: 

  • I just don’t have the time right now.
  • I just don’t know how to write a standard operating procedure.
  • I just don’t have the income to pay someone to do that.
  • I just don’t think they’ll do a good enough job.
  • I just think it’s quicker to do it myself than train someone.

Looking back, these were all lies I told myself to avoid the real reason: I was afraid. Afraid my business would be just fine without me. Afraid I wouldn’t receive recognition. Afraid I’m no longer important. 

These are real fears. It’s the same fear a parent feels when their kid takes the bus to school for the first time or gets their driver’s license. 

Like most fears, my fear of delegation was imagined. The truth is the sense of purpose I gained through delegation was deeper than any feeling of “usefulness” I gained by doing everything myself. 

If you think you’re ready to go down the road of delegating key roles in your business, here are your first steps: 

1. Ask Your Team

Sit down with each member of your team and simply ask them: “What benefit do you want to gain from working here?” Be sure to let them know there’s no benefit that is off limits. If they want to make a million dollars, let that be their benefit. If they want to open a gym of their own, that’s great, too. 

You’ll likely find most employees — and especially Coaches — want to have more responsibility. They want to know their efforts have a direct benefit to your business and their team. Most employees crave responsibility. It’s a win-win. 

2. Look at Your Week

I have an amazing assistant. She loves spreadsheets, reports and reconciliation. I — on the other hand — cannot think of a worse skill of mine. You probably have some recurring duties you know take you way longer than they should. I know I do. 

There are two extreme types of tasks you’ll find when you look at your recurring duties: tasks that give you energy and tasks that zap your energy. Start to create a list of the tasks that take away your energy. These will be the first to delegate. 

Do you hate coming up with social media content? Do you stare at your website endlessly trying to write a decent blog post? Does programming one more chipper make you want to scream? Each of these can be off-loaded for minimal investment and training. 

3. Document Your Process

This will be the hardest part of the delegation process: creating a system. But, it doesn’t have to be super-complicated. Your procedures are living documents that change as people dig into the new role. Just get down a first draft. You can do a screencast on your computer if the task calls for it. You can record a video on your phone while doing maintenance on equipment. You can search for a YouTube video of the task and just use someone else’s process. Technology makes this a breeze. 

Before you actually begin the process of delegation, it is important to gain some clarity around the things you’re afraid to give up. If you’re struggling to do this, a good exercise is to write out worst-case scenario. Ask yourself, “What is the worst thing that could happen if you delegate a key task?” and “How does that compare to the potential upside?” I think you’ll find the potential upside far outweighs any negative consequences of delegation. 

Matt Scanlon
Matt Scanlon is the owner and founder of CrossFit Memorial Hill and TheHillKC in Kansas City, Missouri. He is also the co-founder of BUILD — a CrossFit program and research project dedicated to improving health outcomes for cancer survivors.  Matt's professional career began in healthcare management. As a result of this experience, Matt is focused on using CrossFit to improve health metrics for a broad population of people historically underserved in the fitness industry.  Located at the base of the National WWI Memorial, CrossFit Memorial Hill was founded in 2011 as a free community fitness resource. After gaining a following of nearly 1,300 participants in community pop-up WODs, Matt Affiliated in 2012.  In 2016, CrossFit Memorial Hill expanded to incorporate a private coaching business, BUILD, a TRX and bootcamp series, and various other specialty programs under the umbrella of TheHillKC.  Contact him at matt@thehillkc.com.