How to Use the 10-80-10 Principle to Delegate Like a Boss

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John Nieuwenburg

John Nieuwenburg has been a professional business coach since 2004. Prior to becoming a coach, he held executive positions with Tip Top Tailors and BC Liquor Stores. In 2019, MacKay CEO Forums awarded him with Canada’s CEO Trusted Advisor Award in the Small Business category. Since becoming a coach, John has worked with over 350 clients, taking them through a systematic process that helps them feel organized, confident and in control of their businesses.

Delegation is a must-have skill if you want to grow your business.

The challenge is that some tasks are easier to delegate or outsource than others.

Most owners are happy to delegate bookkeeping to a professional bookkeeper.

It can also be fairly easy to delegate work that you don’t know how to do yourself – like building a website, for example.

The most challenging tasks or projects to delegate are the things that are important to your business, require skill, and you’re good at.

It can be really easy to believe that no one else can do it as well as you do.

You may have tried to delegate or outsource and been disappointed with the results.

So you keep doing the work yourself, which limits your capacity to grow the business.

The answer to effectively delegating this kind of work is to use the 10-80-10 rule.

I first heard this idea from John Maxwell, then I read it again recently in Dan Martell’s book: Buy Back Your Time.

In this video, I describe how to use it. Scroll below for the text version.

The goal of delegation: “How can I get the same outcome or outcomes nearly as good as I could produce myself but through the efforts of others?”

The big mistakes with delegation: abdication and micromanagement

Many owners ask someone to complete a task or project for them, but don’t offer any guidance or support or training.

Then they wonder why it isn’t getting done, or isn’t getting done in a way that is satisfactory to them.

This isn’t delegation, it’s abdication.

The other side of the spectrum is micromanagement.

Following up constantly and telling them precisely how to do each step.

This leads to employees who can’t do anything without ringing, pinging, or dinging you to ask a question.

The solution is the 10-80-10 approach.

You spend the first 10% of the project providing guidance and setting expectations.

Make sure they understand the expected outcome and answer any questions they might have.

Then let them do the 80% in the middle.

Circle back in the final 10% to add your  “magic dust” and provide feedback and correction if necessary.

When you implement the 10-80-10 rule well, you become a better leader and gain the leverage you need to grow your business.

You also free up your time and get your life back.

Ready to take your business to the next level?

Business coaching can help. Click here to book a 15-minute call to see if coaching is right for you: Book a call with John

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This post is part of my Ultimate Guide to Becoming a Better Business Owner. Visit the guide homepage to get my best advice and coaching exercises to help you with:

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