Let Go to Grow

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I have the good fortune of doing consulting work for many cleaning and restoration companies across the nation. Some are small and some are quite large, but they all seem to have one thing in common: The owners and managers have a hard time letting go of their control to the detriment of the company.

I see so many businesses being stifled by the inability of leadership to let go. This creates bottlenecks in production flow, workers who fear making mistakes, owners and managers unwilling or unable to delegate work, organizational charts that are being ignored, and businesses that reach a point where they can no longer grow due to all of the above-mentioned issues.

Therefore, while meeting with my clients we often talk about how not being able to let go of control not only hurts their ability to grow their businesses, but also the mental and emotional toll it takes on them personally. It all becomes just too much and burn out ensues. This is certainly not a recipe for business success. So, what steps can we all take to overcome the fear of giving up control?

Step 1: What is Your Unique Superpower?

What is the one thing you do better than anyone else in your service business? Are you the best at selling losses? Are you the best at negotiating with insurance carriers? Are you a master in accounting and finance? Find what your unique talent is within your organization and be sure to concentrate your efforts on the thing you do better than everyone else and hire or subcontract everything else. You may think you can do it all, but as the old saying goes, “Jack of all trades, master of none”.

Step 2: Defer Early and Often

It is imperative that owners and managers learn to prioritize what work they actually need to do themselves and delegate the rest. All too often I hear my clients telling their teams that they will do X, Y, and Z tasks while the team should really be the people doing those tasks. The mindset of “only I can do it right” is the killer of more dreams than any words ever uttered. My coach always admonished me to build the team or give up the dream. The best way to overcome a fear of delegation is to build business systems that define how to do each task within a company and then train staff so they do the work in a manner that will provide success for the company. Where leaders get tripped up is they will not take the time and effort to build and refine the systems enough to ever feel comfortable delegating.

Step 3: Create Follow Up Systems

Once you have systems in place so you can delegate the majority of your work, you need to have follow-up systems to make sure the work is being done and done right. I find many companies will take the time and effort to build systems, but then they have no system to make sure the work is being done. Having frequent accountability meetings is a key to holding team members accountable for their production and work quality. Also, frequent formal reviews of team members help ensure you are working with staff that are getting things done as the company needs them done.

Step 4: Resist Taking Back Control

As you begin to relinquish control and defer work to more team members, it will not go to plan all the time. The systems will break down, team members will screw up, Murphy’s Law will go into effect, and you will feel the need to take back control. Don’t do it! The home services space is littered with owners and managers who tried to grow only to become discouraged at the slightest hint of problems and decide to go back to playing small. Resist this urge at all costs. It is a process. There will be mistakes. There will be angry clients. There will be frustrations and miscommunications. This is the price of growth. Embrace it and realize it must occur to get to the next level. You need to build a plan, work the plan, refine the plan, and resist the urge to take back control.

Step 5: What Are You Giving Up by Not Letting Go?

There is an opportunity cost for every decision you make. By not letting go it may mean your growth is stifled because there is only so much of you to go around. You may miss out on precious family time because you need to work around the clock. You may miss out on your own happiness because of your misguided idea that nobody can do it but you. Sit down and do the hard accounting of how you run your business, your job, and your life.

Then start to make calculations about what the real cost of not letting go is for you and your business. It is an eye-opening experience that I, myself, have had to do in the past, and one that many of my clients are shocked by when they do the exercise. The stakes are high, and we need to take time to figure out how we can best overcome our need to be needed. 

In summary, we all want to do a good job at work. We desire to be successful and thought highly of. However, for many of us our need for control becomes a pathos that does not serve the company, the team members, or ourselves. So, learn to let go, it will be alright.

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Eric Sprague

Eric Sprague is a long time cleaning and restoration business owner. Having sold his service business in 2018, Eric is now Director of Education at Super Tech University and Co-Host of the Blue Collar Nation Podcast. Eric’s passion is help­ing service business owners and their field technicians be the best they can be and grow as people and service business professionals.

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