I started working full time at Toy House on April 30, 1993. It wasn’t my first job at Toy House. That started when I was the cute kid on the float in the Rose Parade through downtown Jackson at the age of three. At seven I was getting 10 cents and hour to put price tags on boxes. At twelve I got paid to mow the lawns. In 1980 I showed up the day after my 14th birthday with work permit in hand to work on the sales floor selling handheld electronic games.
My dad convinced me to come back to the store full time in 1993 to help expand the baby department. We had a baby department since 1962 when my grandfather bought out Bennet’s Furniture that had been located across the street from the store at the corner of First and Franklin Streets. Dad felt there was a lot of room for growth in that area. (He was right.)
By 1996 the baby department was growing fast. Dad decided it was time to shed more of his responsibilities. The first was marketing. Dad never really liked marketing and advertising. He wasn’t the creative type. He didn’t want to deal with the salespeople. He didn’t want to craft any messages. On the other hand, I loved it.
The second task dad turned over to me was hiring. My dad is introverted. He likes his alone time to recharge his batteries. Oh sure, he can be outgoing and friendly when he wants, but he prefers to work alone. Interviewing employees, hiring them, and training them were not high on dad’s list of favorite things to do.
Although my dad was fairly quick to delegate certain tasks over to me, it took me time to appreciate how he delegated. Prior to my arrival I had heard he had a hard time letting anything go. Partly because he knew he could do it faster and better, partly because he didn’t want to spend his time teaching someone else. I felt both of those as I took over my first two roles. He lamented how much time and energy I put into those roles yet left me to my own devices to figure things out for myself.
In retrospect, I appreciate how he delegated because he gave me room to develop my own style and systems for doing those tasks. Sure, we butted heads often on how and what I was doing in those roles, mostly over budgetary concerns as he still controlled the purse strings. And there were days I felt he was holding me back. But in the long run it worked out quite well for both of us. He got rid of two tasks he never really liked and I got to do two tasks I really loved.
That’s what this post is about—delegating the tasks you don’t want to do to someone who wants to do them.
If you truly want to make your business more fun, hire someone who loves to do the stuff you hate to do.
I hate filing papers. My desk is a mess. My piles are everywhere. I know what is in each pile, but I still need to pick up the pile and sort through it to find what I want. At Toy House my desk was equally as messy. So I hired an office manager/bookkeeper who loved filing and keeping things organized.
By giving her free reign to clean up my office, I made both of us happy. It also freed me up to do the things I loved to do.
I know there are some things you have to do that you cannot easily delegate such as paying bills, taxes, etc. But you can always ask yourself this question. “If I pay someone else to do that stuff, will it free me up to make more money so that I can afford to pay that person?”
You might be surprised how many times you can actually answer yes to that question. When you do delegate those things, you find you enjoy your business that much more.
When you delegate you have a couple options. You can teach them how you want it done or you can let them figure out their own way. My dad did the latter. Since I loved those two tasks so much, I spent a lot of time learning new and better ways to do them. I did the same with my office manager. I showed her what we had done, but then let her figure out better ways to do it.
When you find people passionate about doing a task you hate, they will often find a better way to do it than you ever could.
When you run your own small business you wear many different hats, often too many hats. See how many of the hats you hate to wear that you can pass on to someone else. Not only will it free you up to wear your other hats better, the people you delegate to will wear those hats you hated better than you did.
That will make a lot of people happy, you most of all.
PS Once I saw the light, delegating became a lot easier for me. Whenever a team member came in and said, “I have an idea,” I would often respond, “As long as it is consistent with our Core Values, run with it.”
“But don’t you want to hear what it is?”
“No. I trust you. After all, I hired you.”
PPS It seems almost too simple, but so many people get this one wrong. Hire people who love to do what you want them to do and they’ll not only work their tails off, they’ll find better ways to do what you want them to do, and they’ll be happy to do so.