Being a micromanager keeps you in the limbo of working in your business instead of working on it. You can let go of your responsibilities through proper work delegation process and start automating operations. Marketing coach Mike Moll joins Penny Zenker to break down his Customer Excellence Document, a five-stage process of efficiently delegating work to competent individuals. He explains how he poured his entire consciousness into designing this methodical approach to present information in the most engaging ways. Mike also discusses the many benefits of work delegation, especially in taking back your precious time.
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Escape Micromanagement Through Excellent Work Delegation Process With Mike Moll
Welcome to the show. We’re going to talk with Mike Moll. He is a marketing coach who helps marketers to charge what they’re worth and then remove themselves from the daily operations. He’s all about outsourcing and optimization. That’s near and dear to my heart. He focuses on creating sustainability rather than aggressive growth by optimizing pricing and systems. He hopes to help other marketers who want to create amazing businesses while having time for hobbies, travel and enjoying life.
That’s you even though you might not be a marketer and you’re reading this. You might be a C-Suite or a solopreneur. Who knows? The truth is that we’re going to talk about pieces that are applicable to you too. It’s all about how we look at things differently so that we can focus on the most important things, know what to do with those other things and how to outsource them, delegate them and get rid of them altogether. Mike is here to share his thoughts and wisdom on that.
Mike, how’s it going?
I’m great. Thank you so much for having me on.
I love this topic because I love to automate things. People talk about what their morning routine is and their favorite thing to do in the morning. My favorite thing is to delegate something because it’s a multiplier right there. Tell me what your favorite thing about this topic is.
Our morning routine sounds a little bit different. I go through a very lazy three hours of reading, exercising and listlessly moving about the world. People say that you’re supposed to use all that energy to do your work in the morning but I don’t like doing that. We’re a little different. I’ve had the agency for the past couple of years and it’s taken on several different shapes and forms throughout that time.
What I had a lot of egos around before was I had to be the best. I had to be able to do each thing. Even if I was going to delegate it, I had to be the person that was the best at that. It was such a huge mistake. It almost drove the business into the ground twice. It hit me hard the second time. I thought, “There’s something wrong with my method of thinking. I need to sort out what it looks like to outsource in a way that is truly doing that and not be a micromanager.”
I want to talk about that point of what gets in the way. You’ve experienced this. I’ve experienced this too. It almost drove you out of business and probably out of sanity. I’m doing a lot of research on this. What do you think is the thing that makes us micromanage or is in the way to help us to effectively delegate?
The number one thing is fear. A lot of that comes in the form of we know there are other options out there. There are other companies that people can do business with. The closest we can get to perfecting something for a client, whether it’s our product or service, the more we feel secure in that person staying with us, retaining them and getting referral business. The fear of delivering something that’s not that perfect thing creates this monster inside of us that says, “If it has to be as close to perfect as possible, I’m the one that can deliver that. Therefore, I need to be there at every touch point.”
It’s that need for perfection. “I do it better than anyone else can do it.” I’m interested in your opinion. I’m going to go a little bit deep here. I believe that what’s driving that fear of losing business is the fear of losing control. We’re all control freaks. Let’s face it. What do you think of that? We’ll take it from there.Just because someone has more experience than you doesn't mean both of you think about ads the same way. Click To Tweet
A hundred percent. As an entrepreneur, whether you’re building something bigger or you’re more of a solopreneur, we’ve all gone through something that shows how fragile our business can be. Having that realization is such a big driver. That goes to your point which creates all this undertone of needing to be the control freak and have your fingers dabbling in every single part of a business. I agree with you.
I want to phrase that for people who are reading that aren’t entrepreneurs and they’re middle management or senior management. For an entrepreneur, it’s all new. You’re bringing your business to the next level. Every day is new. There’s also the next level of leadership. We aren’t sure what’s expected of us or how we’re going to deliver it.
There are sometimes impossible deadlines and expectations. It’s those things that keep us feeling like, “As long as I’m on it, I can be counted on.” I want to make sure that other people are understanding that this can relate to any level of leadership. We have this feeling of needing to be in control. I’d like to hear your thoughts on this. You’ve solved this problem for yourself and you solve it for other people. How do you help people still feel in control and delegate effectively?
There are two parts to it. This is more applicable to the entrepreneurial side but even people in management could take this technique. I have what’s called a customer excellence document. What I’ve done is I’ve mapped out the five stages of somebody participating with us. One is in the early stage, the discovery and then the inquiry. There are the negotiation/sales, the launch period and then the post-launch. Within that, there’s a whole bunch of things that happen from when the person discovers they have a need. They’re thinking about that need in a certain way so how do we show up, whether it’s advertising or different things?
When they come to our website or landing page, what do they see there? What do we ask them to do? What happens after they do it? There are so many phases of a customer interacting with us. What this document does is it takes all the bullet points under each of those five phases and says, “What would an amazing experience look like for a customer?”
For example, for a marketing agency, a lot of times, people fill out their information on a website and nothing happens. It just says, “Thank you for your inquiry.” I fear that because they don’t know who you are. They probably don’t have any affinity for you or your brand yet. There should be an action, automation and something that tells them exactly what’s going to happen next like, “We’re going to get back to you within 24 hours. It will be from someone on our team. In the meantime, here are some blogs you can read and a video you can watch.”
Give them something to do because if they think it’s going into the abyss, they’re going to call the next person on the list and start inquiring with more people. If you give them something to focus on for the next step, they feel like, “This person is taking care of it. I know what’s happening next. Maybe I’ll wait for them to get back to me.” It’s little things like that. I do that every single step of the way.
Even at launch, what would a successful launch look like for this thing? If my phone rings in the first week, I’m happy. What has to happen to make that work? You work backward through that as a process. This can be different for your role or your business. The biggest thing is the third column, which is why. You’re explaining why it is that I believe that experience is integral to customer excellence. That allows me to hand off that document to an expert, a media buyer, a project manager or an operator and say, “This is what I want the experience to look like. This is why it needs to look that way. You go ahead and help how that’s going to happen and bring that to life,” without me forcing it on them.
All that is great. The way my brain works is I chunk it up and put it into buckets so that it applies to everybody who’s reading. What you do is you are providing a structure. You have a process that’s got 6 or 7 steps. That structure is defined so that someone can follow that. It can be followed by the customer and the internal person or the person who’s delegating it. If I’m a leader, a manager or an entrepreneur, I can follow that process. I know that the person that I’m handing it off to is following the process. There’s a structure to follow.
Number two, what I heard you say was you’re going to manage expectations. In all the details of what happens in each of those steps, you’re helping to manage expectations. The person who’s taking it over gets some clarity as to what they need to do and what needs to happen. I, as the delegator, get some clarity to know that this person knows what’s supposed to happen that all the while you’re managing the expectations of all the parties, which is important.
There are also the outcomes. When I’m a delegator, I can be clear with each of these phases about what the outcome is and what is going to happen next. I make sure that it’s communicated appropriately to the person who needs it. That outcome gives me also a feeling of control. I’m like, “There’s a structure. I’m managing my expectation. I have an outcome.”
There’s also the purpose. There can be some autonomy in the way that something is achieved. When you have a structure, you’re managing expectations. You know what the outcomes are and what the purpose is so you’ve got the freedom to make it happen most efficiently and effectively, whomever it is that’s executing it. That’s me chunking it up.
The why for me was my favorite thing. I came from big corporate working for a big insurance company. There were so many things that we did that I was like, “Why are we doing this? Why does this process exist?” Nobody ever had an answer and it was frustrating. When it doesn’t make sense, you’re like, “, I don’t know. That’s how it works. We have to do it that way.” It’s such a strange thing for someone who’s trying to be an independent thinker but also a contributor to something to be like, “This thing that doesn’t make any sense. We just do it.” It’s frustrating.
There is a person like myself that I want to know why because I’ll look at it differently. I might be able to solve this problem in a different way when I know what the objective is and why we are doing it this way. I then might be able to say, “I’ve got some ideas. We can do this more efficiently if we do it like this.” It gives you the big picture. If you want people to bring their best to any type of role, you want them to know why so that they can put it into context. Also, they can connect to the result and the purpose behind the actions. It’s good that you brought that in because it’s, in my opinion, super important.Having proper documentation helps a lot in work delegation. You don't need to train a person from scratch or in great detail over and over again. Click To Tweet
The second big piece of it is creating processes. As a small company, that is the last thing that you want to do but it should be one of the first things that you do. I’m sure standard operating procedures in those topics are very prevalent in the show and your world. I was never a business structure person. I had so many things go wrong and I said, “There’s something that I’m missing. What does this look like?” I looked at the way that instruction manuals and step-by-step guidelines were built. I said, “This feels like school. This feels exhausting to participate in. What is the better version of this thing?”
I’ve started recording everything that I do like a stream of consciousness. I do have the checklist. I do have the written version of it but creating these videos, thinking through and talking through how you think about something rather than just the step-by-step of that thing has been such a game-changer for me in quality of work and in draft one from a freelancer coming in that’s almost perfect right from the beginning, cutting down the back and forth time, confusion and interpretation.
As someone who buys ads online, I might’ve come up with a different school of thought with a different strategy. That may have worked well for me but just because someone has 12 versus 10 years of experience doesn’t mean that we think about ads and metrics the same way and where the metric should be. Creating a long form of video training is very informal but that’s the better way to do it. It has been such a game-changer for me and I highly recommend it.
Video is more important than it ever was. Nobody is going to pick up and read through that manual. We don’t have the attention span to do that. We’d sooner watch that video. I like how you said you went through a stream of consciousness. If you were to shadow somebody or watch them do the work, half of the time, you’d go, “Why’d you do that? What’d you do there? What’s behind that?” We do things instinctively because we’ve done them for so many years.
When we say, “Here’s the process. There are the 4 steps,” there are probably 16 steps in that. It’s just that we’ve chunked it into one step and not even thought of it. It’s only when someone else looks at it that they can say, “There’s a whole bunch of stuff missing here.” The fact that you’re doing that and unpacking that in a stream of consciousness like, “Here’s what I’m doing and why I’m doing this. I’m going here,” is super helpful for people who are getting into your brain.
I explain it this way all the time. Out of 10, we’ve done steps 1 to 4 so many times that it’s so automatic in our brain. Often, when we start explaining something, we’re like, “That’s great. Step five is this.” We don’t even know that we’re doing it. It’s the natural ebb and flow of it. The one thing that I do that heightened this even more is I hire people who have no skillset or knowledge of what the thing is to go through and test those things.
I have this SOP that I’m building where I’m building this very specific list for the real estate agents. The software is finicky and the process is methodical. It’s not complicated but it’s more tedious. It’s not simple or intuitive. I had my mom. I said, “Here’s the written thing and the video.” I sat at the kitchen table and watched her do it. I watched her read it, watch the thing and make all the mistakes.
I said, “If you’re not used to the function of a Mac or intuitively, you haven’t done database work before, your instinct is not to understand that this would be a natural step.” I can go back after watching her do all the steps, fill in the gaps and re-record it more elaborately. When you do it with someone that doesn’t have the base knowledge, the flaws in your system come flying out very quickly.
I’m sure there are people reading that are like, “I don’t have time to do that or stand behind somebody and watch them do it. I don’t even have time to go through and document what it is that I do.” What do you say to that person?
Make time. You are purchasing future time infinitely by doing this. I do a lot of little one-off weird marketing tests, examples, experiments or whatever you want to call them. I bring in different people all the time. Having documentation and not having to train a person from scratch or in great detail over and over again, you will earn back the time that you spent building that so quickly, especially if you don’t have employees or you work in a freelancer environment where you’re bringing in a bunch of independent contractors and you don’t know how long they’re going to stay. They get busy. They stop returning your calls. That investment, first of all, will pay off in that way.
The other piece is I’ve learned how to delegate so much stuff. I’m a nomadic person. I move somewhere every 3 or 4 months. I’m in Mexico. I’ll soon be in Europe and Africa. I’m all over the place. I have to constantly find travel stuff and apartments. I need to figure out what the rules of the country are. I’ve delegated all of it. I don’t even search for my apartments anymore. I’ve found ways to systematize and break the information out of my head. I hand off a ton of stuff. Within my agency, at the most, I’m ten hours a week. It runs without me and I’m still doing sales for it.
Creating that has created such time freedom for me to think about bigger picture things, strategize, network and sell more. You will always feel like there’s no time and you don’t have the time. It will always feel that way. There are one million other things you could do that move the business forward like sales, outreach or marketing.
Especially as a small business, that’s all you’re thinking about. “We got to keep moving, selling and improving.” I made the mistake. I went four and a half years without creating any of it. It was such a headache for me to go through and make it. The moment it was completed, 50% of my energy was relieved and open.
For those reading, this is exactly how you do it. It’s by learning how to effectively delegate and create these systems like that. We’re coming to the end of our time together. What haven’t I asked you that you feel like people need to know?Your work delegation systems are never going to be perfect. Someone's going to screw something up. Make sure you feel comfortable with them and simply trust what they can do. Click To Tweet
How you keep track of all this stuff is a good question. When you go to try and build out a process and you dive into what’s involved in terms of the thought process, organization and all of this stuff, it becomes a very overwhelming and daunting feeling process. I’ve used expensive and cheap software. I’ve run the gamut. To be quite frank, the best thing we’ve ever done is use Google Drive or Google Docs for steps 1, 2 and 3 and all the sub-bullets of that. Those documents link out to Loom Videos.
It doesn’t have to cost a fortune.
Loom is $10 a month and Google Docs is free. A lot of the enterprise software, to be perfectly honest, are a dumpster fire. They’re built for massive companies. I haven’t found anything that’s built for that team of 3 to 20. When you start going down that path and you think, “I need to have this complicated system,” you deter yourself from starting.
For us, we’ve got seven contractors and a couple of full-time people. For us, it’s Google Docs and Loom Videos. That’s all you need to get the data out of your head. You might find better ways of organizing it and re-record and get more sophisticated later. That’s fine but get started and use simple tools to do it.
What’s your definition of productivity and why?
As someone who doesn’t concentrate particularly well, the discipline of working in my 22-minute bursts 3 times a day and getting my work done is my definition of productivity. Every system that I built and everything I do is around, “How do I create more leisure time to sing, learn jujitsu, learn Spanish and go surfing?” For me, it’s finding that system, which is working in 22-minute blocks of time a couple of times throughout a day to be productive and then letting go of the rest of the day.
Instead of having this guilty feeling and sitting in front of your computer like, “I should be doing more,” it’s letting go and letting yourself have that time to relax. Especially for an entrepreneur, your productive working time is as important as resting, dreaming, walking around and doing fun things because a lot of your best ideas will come in those moments.
How do you do that? How do you let go? In my new book, I talk about control, which is the first thing that we talked about and then it’s letting go. You’re letting go of the control and all the other things that aren’t important or the need to be doing stuff all the time.
Obsess over getting the systems built. Test them and make sure you feel comfortable with them. Trust the systems. Know that it’s never going to be perfect. Someone’s going to screw something up that’s going to lose you a huge contract at some point. That’s going to happen whether it’s someone doing what you could be doing at that 80% or 70% capacity or you getting overwhelmed and overlooking something. It’s going to happen one way or another so do it in a way that you’re not perpetually exhausted and stressed out.
I don’t think it ever goes away. I don’t think there is a concrete answer on how to let go but building the right infrastructure to make things work more autonomously is the only answer to it. Otherwise, when you have to constantly go back, fix stuff, backfill that work, find the next person that’s going to do it and your mind is focused on that, it cannot relax. It is impossible when you’re stuck in that mode. You have to build this stuff out to even have a shot at letting it go.
That’s a good point. David Allen talks about getting it all out of your head. This is putting it all in a system. It makes a lot of sense. What I practice and sometimes practice better than others is sometimes, you’ve got to feel the pain but do it anyway. When it comes to working out or feeling the fear of losing something, you’re letting it go but doing it anyway. You’re taking off for the rest of the day anyway. You feel the guilt and do it anyway.
Sometimes, we have to allow and know that we’re going to feel this way and it will pass. If we focus on what’s good for us and getting away from our desks and getting some leisure time is good for us, then we can eventually train ourselves to feel that feeling less and less. Do you still feel that way or are you good?
That’s a great point. I do. I worked a little bit and then I was like, “I would love to read, FaceTime my aunt, go for a swim and take a nap.” That’s what I want the rest of my day to look like but I’m trying to finish this SOP and launch this new thing. I’m like, “It’s not going to finish itself. I have to do it.” I lay in bed and picked up my phone about seventeen times. I opened it and said, “Stop looking at your phone. There’s nothing that needs to be done at this moment.” I did that for about fifteen minutes. I opened it and put it down.
It doesn’t go away. You’ll always feel some little bit of guilt in the background or something around the times that you’re not being “productive” but it is practice. When you go through it, take those three days to do nothing, cancel all of your meetings and go to the beach for the day instead. You see over time and time again that nothing big happens. The world doesn’t come crashing down. The building isn’t burned to the ground. You adapt.
There are still people coming in doing their things. You can see that we’re not all that important. Thank you so much for being here. How can people find out more about your services and what you are doing?
On the service side, if you’re a marketer looking for some help structuring a business and trying to build something or rebuild something that you love to be working in, it is MikeMoll.co. Otherwise, I’m a decent follow on Instagram because I’m a full-time traveler. It’s @TheMikeMoll. I often get ten messages a week saying, “Where are you? What are you doing?” I’d be like, “I’m at this or that place.” I’m fun to follow on Instagram.
I will check that out and so will all of you. Thank you so much for being here. Thank you, readers. You’re the most important part of this show. Make sure that you’re staying in tune and check out Mike’s Instagram, his website and some of the services that he’s offering. Make sure you subscribe and tell your friends about this. We’ll see you in the next episode.
About Mike Moll
Mike is a marketing coach who helps marketers charge what they are worth, then, remove themselves from daily operations. He focuses on creating sustainability rather than aggressive growth by optimizing pricing and systems. He hopes to help other marketers who want to create an amazing business while having time for hobbies, travel, and enjoying life.