• Jim Canfield

Delegate to Build an Autonomous Company

Updated: Jun 17



The next important element of your business to successfully operate autonomously, you must delegate. Delegating allows your workers to become even more valuable to your company and allows you to focus on bigger goals.



Don’t be Afraid to Trust Others


Delegating can be one of the most difficult tasks, but once you become more comfortable with trusting others’ work, the results can be rewarding. Leaders often struggle to delegate, especially in the beginning, you probably want to be involved in all decisions and task. However, if you never take time to train and coach others, then you’ll become a bottleneck in your company. By not delegating tasks, you are preventing your team members from developing the skills needed to increase their value to the organization.


At first, delegating might seem inefficient. At times, it will take longer since employees will have to learn and be slower to complete the work for the first time. Also, you might have to review your employees’ work to make sure it is up to your company’s standards. But over time, you’ll actually give yourself the gift of time, because someone else will be providing that service and value. You can teach your employees and mold them to your standards.


It’s Not All-or-Nothing


Another reason leaders have trouble letting go, is they think that delegation is an all-or-nothing approach, for instance, turning a switch on or off. Many leaders feel that you either do it all yourself or you hand it over completely to someone else. In reality, delegating is more like a dimmer switch. You can pick and choose how much of a task you want to be delegated. Think in terms of levels of delegating that gradually get turned up:


  • Level 1—I do it all: I seek alternatives (task 1), evaluate options (task 2), make a choice (task 3), and execute the choice (task 4).

  • Level 2—I do the four Level 1 tasks while training someone else to be responsible for the decision in the future.

  • Level 3—The employee performs task 1; I perform tasks 2-4.

  • Level 4—The employee performs tasks 1-2 and makes a recommendation for task 3; I evaluate the task 3 recommendation and perform task 4.

  • Level 5—The employee performs tasks 1-4 and reports the results to me.


This model allows you to transfer your knowledge and processes incrementally in a way that matches your employee's knowledge, skill, and experience. It also allows you to speak clearly about delegation in terms of understandable levels. As you move through the levels with an employee, you can ask, “Are you ready for Level 5 delegation on this activity?” By posing this question, you ensure that you and the employee agree on the expectations.


Delegate Down to the Lowest Level


To create and maintain an autonomous company that can grow and thrive, you must push decision-making down to the lowest possible level in the company. To determine the appropriate place in the organization, consider experience and frequency. Authorize employees with the most experience with the situation to make the decision. You will get faster, better, and more well-executed decisions while fostering stronger engagement at every level of the company.


For decisions that are made frequently and do not have a big impact should be left to the other members of the team. The senior team members should only make decisions that are hard to reverse, that require their specific capabilities, or that are difficult to track.


Finally, establish a protocol to escalate a decision when it’s necessary. Define who the decision-maker should report to if a situation is too pressing or significant to permit normal practices.


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