Are you too picky for your own good?

by Tina on June 26, 2009

in Build Your Team,General Biz

A common complaint that we hear from business owners re: their team is some variation of:

It doesn’t matter who I hire to do X, they never do it the way I want!


I’ve tried to get my VA to do X right, but she never does as good a job as I do.

When it comes to delegation, one of the big challenges is being able to let go… this is a toughie for many business owners, myself included. 😉

So when I hear this kind of frustration coming from a business owner it occurs to me that maybe they are holding on too tightly to certain elements of their business.

That’s not too say that there could be some other issues at hand – are there good systems in place? Does your team have clear instructions and deadlines? You want to ensure those are in place in your biz.

But if this is an ongoing frustration regardless of the above then it may be time to dig a bit deeper as the business owner and ask yourself – am I being too picky here?

My business partner Andrea Lee talks about the quarter million dollar speedbump – it is pretty common for solopreneur based businesses to stall or get stuck somewhere around the $250K mark. Part of what needs to happen to get over this speedbump is to get yourself out of the ‘thick of things’ – get your team in place (if you haven’t already) and delegate everything that doesn’t *require* you as the business owner to take care of it (so you can be free to focus on leadership and growth.)

In order for your business to grow, you have to get out of the way!

This type of relentless delegation process can be tough for some business owners – you may not feel ready to delegate certain things in your business or might not be clear on how to do so. It also means letting go and allowing your team to do things their way – which may not be exactly how you would do it!

The key thing to keep in mind is the end result. Different people might take different routes to get there – but so long as the end result is achieved all is well.

Loved this analogy that my colleague Carrie shared the other day. It’s like hiring a maid service to clean your house… they might not clean in exactly the way that you would do it, but so long as your house is clean and comfortable, is it that big of a deal? (And really, do you want to take over the cleaning again just because they aren’t doing it “right”? No thanks! 😉

An example I know hits home for me is when I review email responses that our team has sent on behalf of the biz. In some cases i’ll read their response and think “I totally wouldn’t have done it this way, they should have said A, B, C instead!”. Yet the key thing is, did the email do it’s job? Was the recipient of the email happy and satisfied? In most cases the answer is yes, and i’ve learned over the years to just let it go vs. trying to ‘fix’ the way every single email is written just because I would have done it differently (draining for both me and my team!).

So if you are feeling frustrated ask yourself – is this something that truly needs to be fixed or am I just being too picky?

Again, the answer lies in the result. If the result was achieved then leave it be. If not then yes, jump in and tweak/adjust for next time.

{ 2 comments… read them below or add one }

Terri Zwierzynski June 29, 2009 at 8:45 pm

Another way of thinking about the “imperfect cleaning service” is that it may not get done as well as I’d like, but it’s sure easier to spot clean a few areas than it is to do it all myself! (Not that I necessarily advise doing that with a VA that you want to be a long-term partner, unless you set up the expectation that she provides a draft, which you will edit…)

I find this advice helpful too as a parent of a (gasp!) teenager. They might not do it the way I would, but if I make it clear up-front what I want the end-result to be, and they meet that…I gotta let it go. Sigh.

Maybe the moral of the story is…don’t treat your VA like a kid!


Amber Miller July 1, 2009 at 6:48 am

Hi Tina,
Great post – and a good reminder for not only those clients working with VAs but for us OBMs as well who manage teams :)


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