I caught myself this week doing something I really should have delegated to someone else.
Not only was this tying up my valuable time when I could be doing something only I can do; the person who should have done it would have done a better job, and quite possibly in half the time!
Do you ever find yourself falling into this trap?
I’m not just referring to doing routine administrative or mundane tasks. There’s many a time that the things we do to respond to customers’ needs and expectations could also be done just as well (or even better) by others.
When we have an excellent relationship with customers it can be difficult to let go. We often feel guilty or obliged to that customer to look after them ourselves; to give them a personal service. And we’re potentially worried they won’t feel as valued if we delegate some aspects of the customer relationship to our team.
But in doing so we could actually be diluting our efforts and giving a poorer customer experience. What happens when we’re on holiday, tied up with other projects, or when two or more customers all need us at the same time?
We can’t do everything! We need to put our trust in others and delegate some of that responsibility.
But what if we’re not confident anyone in the team is up to it?
I’m not talking here about abdication. You if you were teaching your child to swim you wouldn’t just dump them in at the deep end and let them get on with it. You’d show them, coach them, support them until they were ready to go it alone. And even then you’d be watching at the poolside until you could see they were safe.
Ah, but… I hear some say.
- “My customer trusts me and expects to deal with me”
They expect to always deal with you because that’s what you’ve always given them. If they are never given the chance to speak to your team that will never change. Set expectations early on with your customers so they know who is the best person to speak to when. Introduce your customers to your team so they know who they’re dealing with and build trust (and their expectations) early on.
- “It takes too much time to explain, I can do it quicker”
In the short-term yes, but in the longer term if you delegate you are saving time to attend to more important things to add value for your customer. Having simple systems in place for routine queries means you might only have to invest the time once.
- “They aren’t yet capable”
And never will be unless you start incorporating delegation and trust into your people development plans.
- “They won’t do it as well as me”
Maybe, but are you being too much of a perfectionist? Does the task need such a degree of excellence? If not, maybe someone can deal with the task adequately in less time so the customer isn’t kept waiting.
- “They aren’t yet qualified, authorised or licenced to do that”
Everyone has to start somewhere so get them involved and leave time for you to approve or endorse their efforts before it gets sign off or the rubber stamp. (None of us would ever pass our driving test if we weren’t able to actually get out on the road and drive; it just needs plenty of practice and handholding along the way until ready.)
- “If they are left to deal with someone else my customer won’t be happy and I’ll lose their respect”
You’ll upset customers far more and lose more respect by delaying your response and by not devoting enough time to the areas of expertise they’re paying you for because you are too distracted by routine and administrative issues.
So in regard to having an obligation to that customer to look after them and give them a personal service – yes you should. But you won’t be able to if you get sucked into tasks that don’t require your level of expertise or experience.
The skill is knowing when to let go of the day to day issues, and put your trust in someone else to get on with things, leaving you to focus on the more important aspects of your relationship that only you can do and on the more strategic aspects of the businesses.