No matter how good you are at delegating – you still need a super-power called attention to detail

Once upon a time, I was the 7th of 7 people in a company who were asked to proof read a client newsletter – and found 11 typos in the document.

Rather than blow my top, I simply returned the attachment, with the typos highlighted, corrected and a note to ask why the other “readers” had not noticed?

(note to self – Paddi Lund – blame a system, not a person)

Cut to a more recent conversation during which a Principal was sharing her concern that the impending maternity leave of a valued employee was likely to lead to an organisational meltdown.

The problem here isn’t that people (in the first case) cannot spell or (in the second case) do the right things to make a practice function.

The problem is your level of supervision and accountability as the owner.

It harks back to a quote from business author Harry Beckwith mentioned in a recent post:

There is no performance without accountability and no accountability without measurement

Here’s the balancing act that all business owners face:

  • to delegate so that you don’t drown, without abdicating
  • to make sure that things get done properly, without micro-managing

There is no simple solution here – different situations and people require different levels of supervision and accountability.

The challenge:

  • isn’t knowing how to delegate – it’s knowing what to delegate
  • isn’t knowing how to keep an eye on things – it’s knowing what to keep an eye on

Which brings me to meetings:

  • the morning huddle
  • the weekly review
  • the monthly management meeting
  • the quarterly training day
  • the annual celebration

I’m still visiting practices every week who give me a list of excuses as to why these meetings do not take place.

Then they tell me what (and who) isn’t working in their organisations and how they, as owners, have to keep going back in to fix things when they become problematic.

The 11 typos were a symptom of an unsupervised team.

The mat-leave meltdown is a symptom of an unsupervised team.

No matter how busy you are, how tired you are, how upset you are – as a business owner you have to keep looking at your people and what they are doing – the minute they think that you have taken your attention off them – systems will start to slip.

It’s relentless – if you cannot do relentless, don’t own a business.

If you don’t send a message that says:

I see you

Then your business will end up in the ICU.


Published by

Chris Barrow

Chris Barrow has been active as a consultant, trainer and coach to the UK dental profession for over 20 years. As a writer, his blog enjoys a strong following and he is a regular contributor to the dental press. Naturally direct, assertive and determined, he has the ability to reach conclusions quickly, as well as the sharp reflexes and lightness of touch to innovate, change tack and push boundaries. In 2014 he appeared as a “castaway” in the first season of the popular reality TV show “The Island with Bear Grylls”. His main professional focus is as Coach Barrow, providing coaching and mentorship to independent dentistry.

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