The Delegation Dilemma: When to Let Go
This article was featured in the November 2022 issue of Franchise Dictionary Magazine.
For many of our clients, especially founders who have built their original business from the ground up, delegating decisions and authority is a constant struggle. It’s understandable, as the founders have historical and intimate knowledge of the brand and want to continue to shape and mold it as it grows. But this can cause real issues in terms of speed and quality of decision-making.
As a founder and entrepreneur myself, I know the struggle. When my partner and I started our franchise law firm over a decade ago, we did everything ourselves and knew everything that was happening. As we started to scale, added more team members and the law firm grew beyond what either of us could maintain in our heads, we learned we needed to rely on trusted team members and grant them decision-making authority. It was not easy at first, but if you have the right team in place, the rewards can be plentiful.
We see many of our franchisor clients wrestle with the delegation dilemma every year when it’s time to update their FDD. Some will “delegate” the decisions but want to stay fully in the loop and will even create contradictory decisions and redundant lines of communication. It is frustrating for us to navigate from whom we should be gathering data and decisions, but more importantly, it slows down the process. Without clear direction from the top regarding who is in charge of what, many decisions either don’t get made or get made and then contradicted by others. This often leads the delegator to conclude that if they want it done right, they need to do it all themselves. But that’s the wrong conclusion; the root of the problem is not that they delegated authority, it is that they never really did.
Having rigorous internal debates and discussions on key business points and decisions is healthy, but there comes a time when a decision has to be made. This is when great leaders step up and set clear boundaries as to whom is supposed to decide what and when. By properly delegating authority and decision-making, and communicating that both internally and externally, those who deal with the brand on a daily basis will know how they can help achieve the founder’s vision for growth.
“When I let go of what I am, I become what I might be.” -Lao Tzu
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