Outsourcing and Teams: How to Become a Master Delegator
What gets you most excited when you think about affiliate marketing?
- Doing money angels in a giant pile of cash?
- Moving to Bangkok and partying with Nickycakes at Funkyvilla?
- The freedom to do what you want (kitesurfing, competitive roller derby, go cart racing, etc.) when you want?
Here’s the good news: you CAN have all those things.
The bad news: you CAN’T have all those things.
Well, you can’t have those things if you try to do everything yourself.
Contrary to what you learned from your mom, elementary school teacher, and tee-ball coach, you’re not an endless winner who can do whatever he wants.
You. Need. Help.
Not in the intervention sort of way, but in the max success sort of way. You don’t have the time, energy, or even skill set to do everything that needs to be done.
If you want to focus on your strengths, maximize profits, and crush your way to the top, you need to become a master delegator.
However, depending on your experience, you may have a nasty taste in your mouth when it comes to delegation. Maybe you tried it and found yourself even less productive.
If this was your experience, you probably encountered one of two problems:
- You hired the wrong person. It happens. Stop whining about it.
- Your delegating skills are worse than Bill Lumbergh’s. This is the more likely cause of the problem. When there’s a problem, there’s great power in accepting responsibility.
If something goes wrong then it’s human nature to blame others. If John messed the project up then it’s easy to blame him.
But realize that you hired John, and you assigned the work to John.
It turns out that delegation skills are an art. It takes practice and skill. I was awful at delegating for a long time. But over the years, I’ve built a process that makes delegation doable and powerful.
In this post, I’m going to break down the Ngo method of delegation.
STEP #1: Resolve To Delegate 99% of the Tasks On Your Plate
This isn’t about being lazy and hanging out at Cinnabon while your teammates bust their asses.
No, this all about focusing on what you do best and letting others utilize their strengths.
You might be freaking amazing at writing sales pages but suck at editing podcasts. You might have a sixth sense, except instead of seeing dead people, you know how to optimize the heck out of a landing page…Then if you’re awful at navigating the world of Facebook retargeting, you can outsource it.
Delegation is like a sales funnel: you put something in, it goes through a process, and then something comes out the other side.
Ideally, you’ll get to the point where you touch things as little as possible in the funnel, but that’s not how it starts at first. You have to work to the point where you can delegate something and then NOT touch it.
The easiest way to figure out WHAT to delegate is to keep an excel sheet of the tasks you do on a daily basis.
From there, start delegating the easiest and most repetitive tasks.
When it comes to building delegation skills, here’s how it works for me:
- Initially, I’m doing 100% of a task. This is not ideal.
- If I can reduce my involvement by 80%, that’s a massive win, and I’m still able to add the Charles Ngo flavor (Spicy Sriracha with a sprinkling of dashing good looks)
- However, I can’t get to 100% delegation at first. I never delegate 100% of a task right off the bat. This is a huge mistake people make.
In order to get to 100% delegation, I need to provide guidelines to my teammate for how I want the task to be completed.
For example, I have a video editor who helps me with all my YouTube videos. I take 2 minutes to give him some guidelines and then review the finished product when he’s done, which takes another 5 minutes.
If I tried to do this on my own, it would take me a ridiculous amount of time. That’s not a good use of my time. I want to focus on generating the content rather than editing it.
The process won’t be flawless at first. There will be mistakes and my editor won’t have a perfect feel for my style. But after about ten videos, he’ll get it, and from that point on, the process will work to perfection.
My involvement in the process will be down to creating the content, then investing a few minutes in reviewing the edits.
Another mindset shift is booking flights.
I used to book all the flights myself because I thought…hey it only takes me 10 minutes to book a flight.
But then invested an hour into training my assistant to book flights and now:
* After booking 6 flights, the time investment has paid off
* There aren’t errors in my flights or my booking anymore. She’s more detail-oriented than I am.
* I hate booking flights. This saves me the negative emotions and the thinking power of booking it.
Delegation is about stripping every task down to the essentials. What essential thing will you contribute to the task and what can you delegate away?
STEP #2: Use 360 Delegation Skills
This concept comes from Tim Francis.
I’m about to make a point that will make you rethink everything I just said.
(Movie Spoiler alert)
It’s going to be like the part in Fight Club where you suddenly realize Brad Pitt and Ed Norton are playing the same guy, or in Usual Suspects when it’s revealed that Kaiser Soze is Kevin Spacey.
Ready? Your team should be able to delegate back to you.
That’s not the point of building delegation skills though, right? The point is to get tasks off your plate.
Yes, but not exactly.
The point of delegation is to accomplish tasks as effectively and efficiently as possible. There will be times when YOU are the bottleneck. When you are the only one who can do the task at it’s supposed to be done.
When that happens, your team should be able to assign a task back to you in order to keep the process moving.
For example, when my video editor sees a low number of videos to be edited, he assigns me the task of creating some more. To make my task easier, he may do a brainstorm of 10 ideas I could shoot (a video about my evening routine, me freestyle rapping, me slow dancing to Wu Tang Clan, etc.).
This lets me know that he can’t move forward until I complete the task. It keeps things running smoothly.
In order to implement this kind of 360 delegation effectively, you need three things:
- Vision: Whenever you’re delegating, you need to communicate several things very clearly:
- What you want done
- What complete actually looks like
- Why this task is happening
- When the task or project is starting
- What milestones will happen along the way
- The final, drop-dead deadline.
- Resources: You need to supply a list of all the resources the individual will need to complete the task or project. Consider including:
- Access – online – website passwords
- Access – physical – keys to a building or room, login info for a computer
- Money needed, access to credit cards, PayPal accounts
- Expertise – courses, blog posts, training sessions
- Expertise – consultants available to hire
- Manpower – team members, outside contractors
- Systems / Checklists
- Decision-Making Guidelines
- Approvals and/or Authority
- Hours allocated to complete
- Equipment / Hardware
- Storage – online or physical
- Itineraries of people or events
- Language / translators
- Definition of Done: The person completing the task or project needs to know exactly what “done” mean. They need to understand what it means to finish the task to your specifications. This may include:
- Specifications of finished project; e.g.) image exported to JPG, 300 x 300 pixels
- Final approval from management or client
- Specific files of documents stored in the proper location (Dropbox, etc.)
- A document being first edited, then proofed, then stored sent
- Checklists created / completed / checked
- Important Dates highlighted
- Schedule created
By specifying vision, resources, and definition of done, you create hyper-clarity in terms of what exactly needs to be done. Without this kind of clarity, you’ll waste tons of time redoing work, answering questions, and editing unfinished work.
For more info on 360 Delegation and how it works, check out Tim Francis’ amazing blog post on it here.
Good and Bad Examples
What does all this look like practically?
Bad example: You send an email to John saying, “Can you please do some research on which of our Facebook ads are performing best?”
This is incredibly vague and will result in hours of back and forth as John tries to figure out exactly what you want, what numbers are important to you, why you need this data, and how you want it presented.
Good example: You send an email to John saying, “I want to find out which Facebook ads are performing best so that we can stop our poor campaigns and double down on the high-performing ones. I want to know:
- The product we’re advertising
- The CTR
- The impressions
- The conversion rate
- The amount spent
- The relevancy score
- The revenue generated by each ad
- A recommendation from you on whether we should continue this ad.
I want this data presented in a spreadsheet and sent to me via email. I need it by July 29th and would like an update on your progress on July 15th. You will need access to our Facebook account and our Dropbox account. Please contact Tim for that information.”
This type of hyper-specificity tells John exactly what you want, why you want it when you want it, and what he will need to do to accomplish his task. This keeps everything on track and allows you to stay involved yet not get pulled into unnecessary tasks.
There’s a quote I like that sums this up well.
Never tell people how to do things. Tell them what to do and they will surprise you with their ingenuity.-George S Patton
As long as you’re giving people the “what” to do, and the “why”, they will figure out the “how”.
A Few Other Tips on Delegating Effectively
In addition to these two primary principles, there are a few other key ingredients.
Establish clear communication protocols. In order for things to get done, everyone needs to know exactly what they’re supposed to do, when it needs to be done, and the steps required. Without these things in place, things will become confused and tasks will be unnecessarily duplicated. My team and I use Wrike to ensure that everyone always stays on the same page.
Have a specified system for finishing tasks. As you implement this system, tasks will move along in stages, from idea to in-progress to in-review to finished. You need to be able to clearly move tasks along these stages so that each person knows where a task stands and who’s responsible for moving it to the next task. Again, we use Wrike to do this, but Trello also is a solid option.
Realize that employees get better over time. Expect them to suck in the beginning, but trust that they’ll improve with experience.
Delegation Skills Are The Key To Success
If you want to make it big, sipping mojitos on the beach in your Speedo big, you need to master the art of delegation. You can’t do it all yourself. Period. If you try, you’ll never reach the levels you could.
Bill Gates said, “Automation applied to inefficient processes magnifies the inefficiency.”
In other words, if you try to automate your inefficient solo efforts, they’ll become even more inefficient. If you suck by yourself, you’ll suck worse if you try to automate things
You need a team to make the process efficient and effective.
But here’s the thing: take baby steps in the right direction. You want mistakes to cost you $50 instead of $50k. Delegation is the key to success, but you need to familiarize yourself with the process.
Mother Theresa said, “Only a fool tries to go it alone in this crazy-ass world.”
Actually, she probably didn’t say that, but if she did, I’d agree.