Have you delegated client work to a team and are now wondering – what the heck do I do now? What is my role? What is my job? Where do I fit in?
This is such an incredible moment to celebrate. You made a decision to have a team, you hired, delegated, created lots of procedures – you have spiraled up, my friend! While spiraling up is something to be proud of, it also comes with a lot of “next level” questions.
Questions like: what do I do with my time now that I’m out of (or almost out of) client work? What do I do if business slows down and I need to make team shifts? Do I want to continue to grow or stay where I’m at?
In today’s episode we’re going to talk about how your role and responsibilities shift as CEO once you delegate client work and what you need to be doing to ensure that your business continues to move forward!
Podcast Episode: The #1 thing you need to get out of your own way and scale your agency beyond yourself
Hey everyone. Welcome back to the show! Today we are talking to the folks who may have already delegated either part of, most of, or all of client work and now are having a bit of an identity crisis because they don’t know exactly what they should be doing inside of their business. So if you’re in this position or if you feel like you’re getting close to this position, or if you are someone who still needs to delegate client work, but you are afraid that once you delegate it, you’re going to have nothing to do. This episode is for you!
The first thing that I want you to think about when it comes to the work that you’ve already delegated is how is it going? How is it going for you? Are the people that are doing the work, are they fully owning their roles? Are they actually doing all of what you have delegated to them to do? Or are you still somehow involved in the delivery process or a part of the process? And even though you feel like you’ve delegated the task, you still also feel like you’re way too involved.
This is what I hear from people, and I’ll be honest with you, I heard this the most when I was first launching my program AGENCY and the tagline for the AGENCY program was to help you delegate at least 50% of client work in 12 months or less.
And I would talk to people who said, “Well, I’ve already delegated 50% of client work. Is this going to be for me?” And after digging into it more, I realized that even though they’ve delegated 50% of client work there were still issues that were happening. It wasn’t being done well. There were still things that felt really clunky, or maybe they had delegated 50% of client work, but they were at a point where they just really couldn’t delegate any more or they felt stuck. And that is where I first started hearing about this problem.
And then as I have been working with my clients inside of various programs that I’ve had over the course of the past five to six years, I noticed that this would happen as they would be bringing in team members and delegating pieces of client work and even people who have managers that are managing their team members… it was like they hit this point where they didn’t quite know what their role was.
So if you’ve been in this position, or if you are scared to delegate client work because you’re afraid that you will have nothing to do, have no fear because you will have things to do! There’s other things that you will need to own after you’ve delegated client work.
What I’m trying to say here is that there’s really two pieces of this. If you’ve already delegated client work, I want you to ask yourself, is it being done well? Or do things feel really clunky and maybe like you might have missed something along the way, or that something could be working better. And then the second piece of it is if you feel like you’ve delegated and you’ve delegated well and that your team is taking over their roles, what is it that you actually are supposed to do next? So we’re gonna address both of these scenarios because I think that it’s something that business owners face, and even if you’ve delegated something out and it’s been delegated well your business is a living, breathing entity. And so just because you have a perfect team in place right now, or a really excellent team in place, you know, you’re working with humans.
Humans come and go. There’s issues that pop up. You might take on even more clients and need to hire more team members, and that might change your team structure, right? So there’s always going to be something that you need to address.
Let’s talk about what to do if you have delegated to a team, but you’re still way too involved in the work. I want you to write down where is it that I am still involved? What actually feels clunky. It’s really important to get this information out of your brain and head and onto a piece of paper. When it is in your head, it tends to be very dramatic. And when you are able to actually get it on paper, you’re able to focus on the reality of what is actually happening.
So I want you to write down what is not working. I know for some clients who are moving into other roles inside of their business that aren’t client work anymore, sometimes it can be that they’re still a part of the approval process and they’re having to go back to team members and give them a lot of areas that need editing. Or it’s just the volume of approvals that they have. It’s just way too much. I’ve had clients say that they feel like they’re answering a lot of questions, and I’ve also had clients say that they’re still too involved in the account management piece when there’s an issue with a client that pops up.
Whatever it is, I want you to write these things down because it’s important that we not only take a look at the surface level, we really want to figure out what the root cause is of what’s happening. So oftentimes if you have an issue with a team member, the immediate reaction is, “I need to let go of this team member,” because it’s very easy to be like, well, if I just remove you and replace you with someone else, then this will all function a lot smoother. And sometimes that is true, but it’s not always the case. And actually, more often than not the issue is with the Foundations of the business.
It’s with the the communication and the expectations that either were misaligned or not clearly communicated. And so it’s really important that you go back to see what isn’t working and, depending on your situation, there could be a lot of different things that might need to be changed or, some areas that you need to focus on versus others. I’m just gonna go through some of the top areas that I see that may be helpful to you. And if you want more customized feedback, I highly recommend that you check out one of our programs where we offer that. But for now, what I want to share is that if you are having an issue with a team member who’s not delivering, I want you to take a look to see: what is their role? When I look at their job description, what did I actually hire for? And are they clear on what I expect out of this role? So taking a look at the roles and responsibilities that you have and making sure that you have clearly defined the role of that team member.
What I have found with, actually, I was going to say just small businesses, but I’ve seen this in large businesses as well, and what happens is that as you work on different projects and grow with the company, your role evolves, but sometimes the expectations don’t really get redefined as you grow into maybe some different areas.
Lots of times you have people who are wearing multiple hats, and so that’s where the expectations can get a little confusing and a little fuzzy. So we want to make sure it’s really clear on what this team member’s role is and what they are responsible for on your team and then making sure that they know that.
It’s also important to figure out what did I delegate to them?
Did I delegate a task to them or did I delegate a process to them? Did I really delegate full ownership over the role that they’re doing? A lot of times I’ve seen this happen with both business owners and managers, that they were hesitant to delegate the full role to a new team member or a current team member, so they stayed in part of the role. And typically they do this because they want to be helpful, they want to be helpful to this new team member. They don’t want to put a lot of work on them. They have very good intentions. The problem when you only delegate a piece of the role is that it can be very challenging for the other team member to be able to own their role because you’re still involved in it.
I’ll give you a great example of this. So when I had my project management agency, I was delegating to team members and I had a project manager on my team that I would assign to different client projects. The first thing that I would do as I was kind of learning how I wanted to do this for my business was I would meet with the client, have the initial kickoff call. I’d gather all of the information, I’d put together the project plan, and then I would have the project manager manage the plan that I created. The problem with this is that the project manager would have a ton of questions for me because they weren’t involved from the beginning.
They didn’t create the plan, and therefore they couldn’t really own something that they didn’t have any say in creating. And so what I realized is I was actually doing the team member a disservice by keeping part of the role. It didn’t mean that I couldn’t still be involved in parts of the strategy or contribute, but I realized I had to let that team member own the role from start to finish because it made managing the project a lot easier and more efficient. And it actually also helped their relationship with the client because they became known as more of the point person for that project and the authority, at least from our team on that project.
So I want to make sure if you are having some issues where your team isn’t fully owning their role, that it’s not because they were never delegated the full rule to begin with. Okay. So really take a good look at that.
And then the last thing that I’ll recommend (and we could talk about this for days), but the last thing that I want to touch on is that if there are team members where you’re having to provide a lot of feedback or answer a lot of questions, I want you to take a look at your standard operating procedures.
Take a look at all of the processes that you’ve documented on how your agency works, on what the steps are that they need to take to deliver your standard of service to your clients and see, are there any gaps? Are there any holes? Are there any things that I need to be more clear on? Do I need to create more processes or expand on my thought process around how I make decisions?
Sometimes people look at standard operating procedures and it’s very much… sign into this system, click this button, do this thing. And they forget that standard operating procedures can also, and it’s very important for them to be, around the thought process of how decisions need to be made for the company.
Now, sometimes I hear from clients that they are hesitant to do this because they feel like the team members should make their own decisions and really own that, and they want their perspective and that is totally fine.
But we also want to make sure that if there is a standard of delivery for your company, that they understand what that standard is and how to make decisions around it. And then they can make their own decisions, but you’re giving them a guide to how maybe you think through things or how you want the company to think through and address certain things that are important and that you’re always open to their perspective, of course, but it’s making sure that they know where your coming from and how you’re company makes choices that are important to your organization.
So that is something I often see as missing. So if you are frustrated with how a team member is making decisions or some of their choices, whether that be through communications or that be through creative decisions this is an opportunity for you to more clearly define what the expectations are inside of your agency.
Okay, So those will hopefully give you a few ideas if you have a team member that’s not quite fully taking over the ownership of their role, but let’s say you have a team, they’re in a pretty good place right now, you’re feeling good: what do you focus on next?
So it’s really funny, I had a new client sign up for AGENCY, and this was something that she was kind of concerned about. Like, “okay, well I’ve always been known for the work I do for clients, that’s why people come to us, and if I’m not doing that anymore, what the heck am I gonna be doing?” And then she signed up for AGENCY and started going through the framework and she’s like, “Oh, I get it now! These are all of the things that I’m going to be doing!”
So let’s talk about the AGENCY framework because this is important. So we have your Foundations that we want to not only address once, but continue to evaluate as you grow.
And so your Foundations are taking a look at your ideal clients, your scalable offers, your delivery process and your financials. The problem I see a lot of agency owners in is that they come to me feeling so overwhelmed, and they kind of hit this breaking point. And so when they come to me, they’re in reactive mode.
There’s some problems and issues and they’re trying to solve for them. And so we address the Foundations, but we do it in more of a, I don’t want to say a reactive way, but it’s like kind of playing catch up a little bit. And that’s great and it’s needed and it’s necessary and it’s a little bit of an overhaul so that they can really continue to flourish with having those Foundations in place.
Then we look at your Team. We take a look at your Delegation Assessment and Strategy. We take a look at your numbers and financials, and we really put together a plan, a hiring plan for you, and sometimes it is delegating tasks to people that are already on your team, and sometimes it’s hiring a new role, but it’s really understanding what does this team structure look like? What is working really well? What is not working really well of what I’ve already delegated and what do I need to do moving forward in terms of growth? So as this company grows, who am I going to have to hire next? And then making sure the numbers support that. And then from there we have a bunch of resources around getting better at delegating and hiring and onboarding and having a really good onboarding experience for your new team member to make sure that transition is successful.
The last thing that we look at is your Management. And we take a look at a few different areas. We take a look at your organizational structure. We take a look at your roles and responsibilities. And we take a look at your team’s success metrics. So this is how you define success in this role. What are your expectations? Are they clear? Do your team members know? What performance is expected of them and then checking in with them regularly around this.
Pulling that all together and going back to the initial question of what do I do after I delegated client work is that your job is to not only implement these things. To have updated your Foundations to have created a Delegation Strategy and to have updated your Roles and Responsibilities, to have your Vision and Values, to have your Team Success Metrics in place. It’s not only to implement that once, it’s to continue to evaluate it on a regular schedule, and sometimes this is a little bit more formal and sometimes it’s informal, depending on your season of business and what’s going on for you.
You want to evaluate where you’re at, you want to take a look at: are we still working with ideal clients? Or have our ideal clients changed? Could our offerings be more scalable? What’s wrong with our delivery process? Where are we bumping into some roadblocks? What do we need to change here? How are the numbers? How are we doing financially? Do our numbers need to change? Do we need to change our price point? Are we looking to maybe hire in another role and therefore need to increase our pricing?
What does the delegation strategy look like? How’s everyone performing in their role? Does anything need to be updated when it comes to responsibilities? Do tasks need to be redistributed ? Do team success metrics need to change? So your role changes. You replace what you’re doing in terms of client work and you focus in on these other areas.
Now what’s so interesting is that some people say, “this sounds terrible,” “but I really like copywriting,” or “I really like spreadsheets or accounting” or, “I really like project managing and this sounds like a lot of work.” And I will say that it is, it is a lot of work. And if you do it well, you will find that you have more space and it actually becomes dare I say fun.
There’s still definitely hard moments, but so many agency owners that I talk to, they feel like they’re constantly in reactive mode. It’s like putting out this fire and putting out this fire and they have so many ideas around how they want to improve their services or even improve their client experience. Send client gifts. They want to do something more for their team. They want to have their first team retreat. They want to update this process, but they can never get around to it because they’re so buried in being reactive. And so while, yes, there is a lot to do as the CEO of your company, you are an employee of your company and obviously the definition of CEO is going to look different for your company versus somebody else’s company.
If there’s another company that has 50 employees and your company has five, your role and responsibilities as a CEO might vary a little bit, and that’s totally fine. But your job is to keep your business running. And so in order to do that, these are the things that you have to look at a regular basis.
And in order to look at it on a regular basis, you need to have the space. And so that’s why inside of my AGENCY program, I focus on delegating client work first and doing it well. Updating your foundations, creating that great delegation strategy. Really getting clear on the roles and responsibilities and team success metrics.
And then it’s really about working that system and there’s always going to be things that pop up and challenges that pop up. But of what I have heard after doing this for over five years and working with a lot of agency owners is that, it was really hard for them to see the light at the end of the tunnel when they were still so far in client work, or even if they had delegated it, if they were still so involved in putting out fires because things just weren’t really in a good place. When I asked what they wanted, they didn’t even know . They’re like, “I don’t even know what my goals are, I just don’t wanna be here anymore.” And so the goal is to get you to a space where you can be more proactive than reactive and you can start making choices and decisions and you can have more room to be able to improve things, to be able to launch even a different service offering or experiment with something.
That would be my goal for you. You get to decide. Some of that time that you get back is going to be used to running your company. There’s stuff to do, but you will have more time and you get to decide what you want to do with it.
Do you wanna put it back into growing your agency? Do you want to launch another type of offering? Do you wanna spend more time with your family? What do you want? You get to decide what you do with that time. But that’s the amazing part about it, is that you have choice.
Okay, so if you’ve already delegated and you’re wondering, “what the heck do I do now?” I want you to start with asking yourself that question.
How is it going ? Are people fully owning the roles that I have assigned? Or could things be running smoother? And if you’re in that position, go through some of the steps I talked about. If you’re feeling good about it, now you have an idea of what you can focus on next.
It’s not just doing it once. It’s doing it regularly so that you can know: what are some of the internal projects I need to get done inside of my business, and how can I prioritize those projects for myself and my team so that we can continue to improve? We continue to make it a better experience for our people, for our clients, for our team, and for ourselves too.
All right, everyone. That’s what I have for you today, and I will see you back here next week.