You asked for it and we listened. In this column, we ask operators of all sizes and from all walks of the industry a question about their business and report their answers so you can assess how your own company compares to your peers. If you would like to participate, please email Rob Smentek at email@example.com for next issue’s question.
TOPIC: How do you go about delegating to employees? What kind of tasks have you personally passed off? What do you consider when preparing to delegate?
Remember that daily tasks and interruptions can bury you; you need to let go and start delegating. I have earned my position in the company because I have the skills and the experience to execute the work successfully. As not everybody in the company has those same skills, there always will be some tasks and projects that I have to do on my own. But there is also a set of tasks on my plate that someone else can handle. As a successful and effective manager, I have to be able to determine what type of tasks can be delegated.
Whatever the type of task I am going to hand off is, I have to make sure I take my time to clarify all objectives for that job. By doing this, I eliminate any possibility of any miscommunication. Be sure to select the right person or team: You must start by matching the person or team to the task.
However, the most important thing I learned is how to handle upward delegation, where the person you’ve delegated a task to starts shifting things back to you. Ask this person to come up with a better solution and always, always ask them what they think the best solutions are.
Shady Azer, Vice President of Operations
Concorde Worldwide in Freehold, N.J.
Letting go for me was something I wouldn’t have considered prior to my son Nick joining the family business. I’ve always set the bar high just like my father did. Once I realized Nick is a chip off the old block, it was easy to let go—after all, there will come a time when our roles will be reversed the same as it was for my father and me.
I wouldn’t point out one specific thing that I have delegated to Nick, but what really matters are the small tasks and responsibilities I can count on him for. Also, I’d like to add that he has created his own tasks as of late: We’re now on the GNet system, running a GDS, we have active Facebook and Instagram accounts, and he is going out and taking the initiative of meeting clients. A majority of these things are tasks I’d be doing, so I’m glad he is with us, as it allows me to focus on running the business.
Carla Boccio, Owner
Buffalo Limousine in Buffalo, N.Y.
When I started my company, I was always worried about having issues with billing because it is a very delicate part of the business. Things like hourly services need to be 100-percent accurate. Also, when I was handling billing, I could comp the waiting time or car seats for an affiliate or regular client.
Not long ago, I delegated billing to my employees—but I still watch very closely. There have been almost no issues or mistakes because the training and process were put in place effectively. And my team always makes sure things are analyzed prior to either charging a card or submitting an invoice.
Fernando Carlison Jr., CEO
Mundi Limousine in Deerfield Beach, Fla.
This year has been a turning point for me as an individual and leader. I began focusing more on empowering others and letting my team take ownership and commitment for decisions, and creating value within the workplace.
My team understands their jobs. They know their tasks, roles, and functions within the organization, and it was time to “let go” to them so they can do what they need to get the job done. My function is to produce leaders and to encourage and support the decision-making environment by giving my team the tools and knowledge they need to make and act upon their own decisions. By doing this, I have helped my team reach an empowered state.
Through this process, I appointed my director of affiliate relations and director of sales and marketing to take a share of running the business to achieve our goals. “Trust the process” as I tell them every week—your teams will only believe they are empowered when they are left alone to accomplish results over a period of time.
Reza Choudhury, CEO
HYRYDE, Powered by Reliance in London, U.K.
As an owner, one must delegate when the task at hand is not in your wheelhouse: ELD selection, operation, and troubleshooting are not in mine—and, to be honest, the subject of ELDs is not even in my neighborhood much less my “wheelhouse.” I stay far away from the selection, negotiation, and operation of the whole process. I’ve hired smarter people to take care of that. Delegating so that you can work “on your business, not in your business” is necessary to strengthen both your company and the overall effectiveness of your people; however, it’s even more important to delegate tasks in which you are not proficient—or have any interest in. It’s all about letting go and checking your ego at the front door. We all have our strengths and weaknesses; being able to identify those weaknesses, ask for help, and trust your people requires faith in those individuals.
Eric Devlin, President/Owner
Premier Transportation Services in Dallas, Texas
There are a few things I finally delegated to my staff this year that I was afraid to give up because I was not in full control. The first was making the initial call to a potentially new affiliate. Usually, I would take over and call their office and speak with their staff. Now I have my lead CSR take that role. She tells me if there are any problems, sets the affiliate up in our system, and requests the proper documentation. If there is anything I see that is wrong, I don’t take over—I tell her how to correct it so she goes through the procedure hands-on. Other tasks I delegated are special events and VIP client trips. I was able to assign a CSR to a project by including them in emails with the client and have them take care of the bookings. If there are any issues, they know to come to me, and I go over the final details with the VIP client.
Sam Emam, General Manager
BBZ Limousine & Livery Service in Bergenfield, N.J.
It is very important for us to learn the capabilities of our staff beyond their normal day-to-day operations to empower them to do more to own their position. We offer projects to employees who have shown success in their current role, which is also a great time filler in the off-season or during slow days. Letting go is probably the toughest part, and we have learned that they are only as good as the information you give them. You cannot expect a project or any other delegated task to be done the way you would like to see without a clear explanation, defined purpose, and a deadline. Without these, you are not providing your employees with a clear vision of the outcome you want. If you invest the time, you may be pleasantly surprised by the additional skills that they are capable of, as well as building a place of trust and empowerment within employees.
Ashley Richey Goldston, General Manager Affiliate Relations
Going Coastal Transportation Chauffeured Services in Charleston, S.C.
I have concluded that the only way I am going to grow my company is to effectively delegate and have accountability measures. We recently bought a 27-passenger Grech bus, which requires the chauffeur to have a CDL license. Unfortunately, Boston currently is experiencing a huge shortage of CDL drivers with passenger endorsement.
I recently delegated recruiting CDL drivers to my operations manager, and she has done a great job with this initiative. She’s posting ads on Indeed and Craigslist and scheduling interviews as well as reaching out to state and veterans agencies who have job seekers. I have five solid candidates now to interview before hiring and onboarding them.
Mark Kini, Founder & CEO
Boston Chauffeur in Beverly, Mass.
I’ve always had a hard time with this myself, and it took moving from the corporate office to make it happen. I’ve delegated many day-to-day tasks to my son Drew, Create-A-Card’s new operations manager. It has freed up my time and schedule to grow our second company, Driving Results.
Working one-on-one with clients was something I felt only I could do, as I had the impression they only wanted to work with me. Since Drew began actively attending trade shows and association meetings, however, clients have started asking for him directly. It is a great feeling. I still coach him on a weekly basis since there is so much to learn about our business and clients’ expectations. I still oversee everything, but certain tasks and projects are now run by Drew, and it is his responsibility to handle them without me.
Arthur Messina, Founder & President
Create-A-Card in Smithtown, N.Y.
Just recently, I delegated the “wind-down” process for a contract that is ending to someone who typically would not expect to handle this. It is a little bit of a stretch for them, but I can tell they are excited for the opportunity. I know what I need to monitor to make sure this process goes smoothly. They will do all the work; I will just keep an eye on them, clarify any confusion, and ask questions when they may need to reconsider some aspect of this project—and when it’s complete, I will make sure they get all the credit.
Contrary to popular belief, most employees want to be given more demanding responsibilities and, more importantly, the autonomy to tackle those responsibilities in their own manner. If you give them the responsibility without that autonomy, then they don’t look at it the same positive way—instead it becomes a burden to them and not an opportunity.
Before I delegate a responsibility, I ask myself, “What is the worst thing that can happen if this gets all screwed up?” Which then leads to the next question: “How and what do I need to monitor as this person handles everything to make sure that worst case doesn’t happen?” If the answers to both questions are acceptable to me, then I delegate and monitor appropriately. In truth, when you delegate, rarely does the employee’s approach match your own. In fact, you may only be marginally comfortable with it. However, as long as you can see where the employee is heading, and you are willing to listen to them and to coach along the way, the only thing that really matters is the final outcome, right?
It is way better for you personally and for your organization in the long run to give the employee that freedom. You free up your time and effort to work more on the business and not in the business, and at the same time the employee is growing and getting a lot of personal satisfaction—and you become more comfortable giving them more responsibility in the future. Sometimes, you turn something over to someone and they do a better job than even you would have done. When that happens, you wonder why you didn’t turn it over long ago.
Basil Rudawsky, Chief Operating Officer
BEST Transportation in St. Louis, Mo.
We’ve loved hearing your answers to our benchmarking questions—but we always welcome suggestions for future topics, too!
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