Getting Out Of My Own Way

As my agency grows at WP Dude, I’m finding I have to get out of my own way a lot.

We have too many moving parts for me to touch everything that comes through my business. It’s like a plate juggling act, if I try to control everything eventually plates will begin to drop and smash on the floor.

I’ve recruited a team who can deliver, so I need to pass the work onto them and trust them to get things done without me having to be part of the process.

My Inner Control Freak

At first the inner control freak was melting down, the big vein in his forehead was throbbing.  I was worried that things would not be done as I liked and that I might lose clients.

To placate the control freak, I created a process to analyse and work coming across my desk and to delegate and assure the work gets done as I like it.

Guess what no plates have come crashing down, it was all in my head.

Introducing DAD

I have an internal process I call DAD that I have been using to get stuff off my plate and into the hands of my team.

Whenever a task comes onto my desk I apply the DAD principal which is:

  • Drop
  • Automate
  • Delegate

Dropping A Task

I ask myself should we be doing this task.  There is no point automating or delegating a task we don’t need to do.

I ask myself “Is this task helping us to reach the goal of the business?”, if it is not, why are we doing it, why would I spend time trying to automate and spend money on software.

If it’s not required why would I try to delegate it?  I’m trying to streamline my agency to deliver an excellent customer service.

If we don’t need to do something I drop it from our process.

Example, we were checking

Automating A Task

If a task can be automated this is where I’m happiest.  Using software and automation techniques gets things done by robots who do things to my standard automatically, none of those pesky humans are part of the process to introduce individuality to my systems :).

I use automation in email systems, I use Zapier to link software systems so thing are moved from system  A to system B automatically.

An example of this was on-boarding a new maintenance client, in the past I would manually send a client a series of emails, now I have an automated email sequence.  This task is automated, off my plate, I have gotten out of my own way.

Delegating A Task

The final stage of the process is to delegate the task, but whoa there cowboy, don’t just drop it off your plate telling person X in your team to do this work, no you need to systematise the work and document it in detail.

The task is in your head, you know how to to it instinctively you need to

We need to systematise to fine tune the work to be done, we need to systematise to ensure the work is done to your high standards.

Then you document your systematised work in detail.

Once you have done those two steps you train your team member in your new system.  Your team member works the system, they don’t have a random task dropped in their lap.

I add a feedback loop into all of my delegated tasks. I delegate but don’t abdicate, for example I have my team members complete a

Example all of the work required to look after my clients’ sites as part of our ongoing maintenance plan is delegated to two team members, we have a detailed library of processes for all the steps, how we manage exceptions etc.  I’m hands off unless an unexpected issue happens see below.

If I cannot delegate a task to a current member of my team it suggests I need to recruit again.

When My Team Bring Exceptions

Once a task has been delegated there are times when my team come back to me with an exception to the process we have created.

It’s important not to take that task back, rather update our process with this exception.  I’ll add a new rule to the process which says if we see this again, do this and the thinking behind this is X.

Keeping A Task

Some tasks of course you need to keep, if once you have applied the DAD process you cannot get a tasks off your plate then that is your work and you need to keep it.

Things like payroll, invoicing and marketing are still on my plate.  I’m doing the custom coding jobs because a I don’t have a team member to do that.

I’m still doing the writing of blog posts because I enjoy it.

Client Education

If you clients or customers are used to dealing with you exclusively you will need to gently educate them that you may not be the only one dealing with their work.

Ask a client to send requests to a central communication point such as your help-desk rather than emailing you.

Send you contact forms for work to that same part rather than directly to you.

What happens if a client wants to just deal 100% with you? You may have to have a hard conversation and they may not be your client for much longer if you want to scale your agency.

When you fly Virgin Atlantic, Richard Branson is not taking your booking of flying the jet, at some point you need to become the Richard Branson of your business.

It becomes your job to make sure other people can deliver the excellent client service your clients are clamouring from, only from you.

Wrap Up – Getting Out OF My Own Way

I’m working hard to get out of my own way to work on my business, not in my business.

It makes the delivery of our services smoother and more efficient which leads to happier clients.

There is no exit from a business is the owner is still working in it.  This is all part of my startup journey.

Photo Credit: joeallam.co.uk Flickr via Compfight cc

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