One thing you learn when working in China is “management”.
More than that, a side of managing comes down to the “art” of delegating (and the other part down to “persistence”).
I believe, that, probably due to the Chinese education system, a lot of foreigners have trade a “macro-managing” approach for an extreme “micro-managing” one.
It actually has its good and its bad and, frankly, it is difficult to judge.
But at the end of the day, you will do what is best to achieve what is supposed to be achieved, using whatever works, either a micro or a macro way, right ?
I was recently listening to ones of Tim Ferris’ podcast episode talking about this very same topic.
I first got it from his famous book “The 4-Hour Workweek: Escape 9-5, Live Anywhere, and Join the New Rich”. I actually didn’t get it with the first read, (and probably not quite with the second one either to be honest), but it was there and it needed time to incubate.
Now I am using it everyday.
After quitting my job over the summer of 2015, there was a few things that I wanted :
Starting several projects and see which one could be turned into some kind of business
- Have a very little team or no-team per say
- Having partners that have skins in the game and are engaged
- Being flexible in terms of both timing and location
12 months later, I do have several of those projects generating some incomes (not yet to the goal I have set, but definitely on their way).
I have a handful of people I am working with. Some are based in Shanghai, and others in the Philippines. Some are partners when others are freelancers. But I like to believe that they are in “it” as much as I am, and that they count on me to be creative enough to bring them work to produce. At last I think they care.
Delegating has to be done in a certain way, but here are the few things that I always tell myself.
1/ You can not delegate (or outsource) what you don’t understand.
I always spend a few weeks or months on doing something myself, so that I understand how much time it requires, what are the possibilities, and how difficult it is. It is then easy to manage your freelancers or your team. You need a base of competency before outsourcing it.
2/ You need to understand where you are good at and focus on your unique abilities.
Then, according to Tim Ferris, they should fall in those categories :
- Things you can do.
- Things you are good at.
- Things you like to do.
- Things that will give you high yields.
From there, make a list of task that need to be done in your business. File them per categories. The “Things you can do” and “Things you are good at” should be delegated. You understand them very well and you can manage them. Let some else take care of it, and supervise it.
3/ Time management
As much as you are in a rush on getting something done, don’t forget that anyone you work with have their own agenda too and will have to figure out a way to squeeze your inquiry in their task list.
Communication and flexibility is necessary and there are tones of tools that will help you work on that. I personally use Trello.com to manage project and WeChat to interact on a more personal level with my freelancers (away from the rest of the team).
Freelancers are supposed to be working on several projects and don’t forget that yours might not be their priority at that time.
4/ Process, Process, Process…
If you try to add more to a broken process, it will naturally make things worst.
For every project I have started, I always put processes in place from the very beginning. Even though I often start alone, it will make things easier when bringing someone new on board.
If something is going wrong, it’s probably your fault. You have to do the hard work / hard thinking before delegating.
5/ Inspire people
Delegating is not a matter of making someone else do what you don’t want to do. It serves 2 purposes to me :
- It helps you focus on bringing what your company needs. It can be for client, creativity, sales, structure,… It will help you grow your business.
- It makes your team understand the whole thing, a piece at a time. Making them part of the process and understanding.
When people ask me what I think went wrong with NextStep in 2007-2010, I usually answer that we didn’t hire people. We didn’t feel responsible on creating a sustainable business because my partner and I were survivors and hustling everyday was easier.
That was a mistake.
Let me know, what are the rules and steps that you are following to delegate well ?