5 Steps to Successful Delegation

Delegation has miraculous powers.

It’s like the holy grail for most business owners. Enthralling, but elusive.

You work hard to hire the right people to fill important roles. You onboard, train and set them loose. But, you end up still working too much and never quite feel like the burden of your business is lessened. 🤦🏻‍♂️

Productive Therapist is here to help!

For this post, I’m going to assume you’ve hired the right person for the job, so we can zero in on the 5 steps to successful delegation.

We will use the example of a group practice owner who has hired a virtual assistant company to handle her intake process. Of course, you can absolutely hire an in-office assistant for this role as well.

Here are the 5 steps to successful delegation:

  1. Goal
  2. SOP
  3. Training
  4. Feedback
  5. Accountability

First, you want to get clear about what you are delegating, and why. Start with a goal.

1. Goal

This seems like common sense, but so many group practice owners try to delegate tasks and projects in a very haphazard way. They are disorganized, constantly making changes, and lacking clear direction.

This is rarely intentional, but it ends up being frustrating to the team. You may have heard the saying, “People don’t quit jobs, they quit managers.” Don’t be that manager. Be clear on the job to be done and the desired outcome goal.

Here is a clearly written goal to aim for.

I need to fully delegate my intake process to an intake coordinator because I want potential clients to get quicker responses to their inquiries, I want to bring more clients into the practice and I want to free up my time by getting help with this role.

2. Standard Operating Procedure (SOP)

Next, you want to create a basic, but effective standard operating procedure. This will likely take the most time, depending on how much you already have documented. This can start as a simple text document, and you can add images and video as needed to make it easier to follow.

For our example, I’m going to include some or all of the following things in my intake standard operating procedure (SOP).

  • Call script
  • Follow-up process
  • Practice contact info
  • Info on private-pay fees
  • Expected response times
  • List of community referrals
  • Clinician specialties document
  • How and where to track referrals
  • Written process for client onboarding
  • Info on insurances accepted by the practice
  • Login information for all necessary platforms

I could add more to this list, but you get the idea. This might seem like a lot of information because the intake process is fairly complex. It has more steps than other, more simple tasks or projects.

It’s important to mention that you don’t need your SOP to be 100% complete or absolutely flawless. It just needs to work well enough to get started – you can always update it as needed.

3. Training

Once you have your goal and your SOP, you’re ready to start training your virtual assistant.

Fortunately, (for this example) you’ve chosen to work with a mental health-specific virtual assistant company. Your training process will be much easier, but you still need to follow a few steps.

You need your VA to spend time reviewing your written procedures to get up to speed. It will likely only take about one hour to read your procedures and watch the related walk-through videos you created.

Then, you want to schedule 1:1 training time with your VA. Plan on spending more time on training than you think is necessary. For this role, 2-3 hours should suffice. Your VA picks things up fairly quickly because she already supports a few other practices with their intake process.

When you feel confident you’ve done enough training, you can move on to the feedback phase.

4. Feedback

After you choose a start date for her to take over the intake process, you will communicate how you will provide feedback to help her be successful in this role.

There are two mistakes to avoid here. The first is providing too much oversight and feedback in a way that quickly feels like micromanaging. The second is to step back too soon and not give enough constructive feedback. It’s possible to trust someone too quickly, and that’s not ideal for either of you.

For our intake example, there are a couple ways to provide helpful feedback during the initial phase of delegating this role.

3 ways to provide feedback

  1. You can have them handle a few inquiries and then debrief each one in detail, including the decision making process and the outcome. This involves the least amount of direct oversight and might be preferable for your VA, especially if they’re already fairly experienced.
  2. You can have them handle a few inquiries, while you listen to their side of the conversation and then provide feedback. This can easily be done on a video call with your virtual assistant. This ramps up the amount of direct oversight. It can be awkward at first, but also incredibly helpful.
  3. Lastly, you can have them handle a few inquiries, record the full conversation, and review it afterwards to debrief. There are tools available that allow you to do this with the necessary consent and digital security. It doesn’t allow for monitoring the conversation live. However, being able to hear both sides of the intake conversation and learn from the experience is amazingly valuable.

You get to choose the ideal level of oversight and feedback you provide. Just make sure you don’t skip this step.

Also, don’t hold back on giving direct feedback, both positive and constructive. It’s important in the initial phase of delegating to set a precedent for the level of quality you expect and how you will provide guidance and feedback.

5. Accountability

Lastly, you will set up a simple system for accountability.

This might include asking for regular updates, tracking and reviewing metrics, and problem-solving how to make improvements along the way.

Of course, not everything in your group practice can be measured by numbers.

For example, I know my clinical supervisor is doing a good job when the pre-licensed therapists are growing professionally and personally and their clients are getting better. Accountability in this situation looks like regular check-in meetings about the progress of the clinicians being supervised.

However, for our intake example there are a few ideal ways that I create accountability.

Tiffany, my virtual assistant, sends me an update email every Friday that gives me a quick breakdown of the week, including how many referrals we received, how many new clients she signed up, and how many inquiries are still being followed up on.

She logs every referral on our referral tracking spreadsheet and keeps it up-to-date daily. At the beginning of the month, she calculates our conversion rates and adds those numbers to our conversion-tracking spreadsheet.

If there’s a week with particularly low conversion numbers, we will set up a quick call to evaluate and problem solve.

To be honest, Tiffany doesn’t require much accountability at all. We’ve been working together for many years and she’s an absolutely world-class team member and human being.

Nevertheless, this is the accountability system we’ve created and it works great.

The end result of delegating successfully is like magic.

I never worry about Tiffany or our intake process. One of the most important aspects of my group practice gets handled expertly – every single day. I’m free to focus on other aspects of growing the practice and life is good.

There you have it – the 5 steps to successful delegation:

  1. Goal
  2. SOP
  3. Training
  4. Feedback
  5. Accountability

Now, just rinse and repeat.

Before you know it, you’re working fewer and fewer hours every week, while your team takes care of your business!

Do you need help with building your team and delegating?

If so, I have a great resource for you.

The Productive Practice

This quick read will give you a roadmap to grow your group practice while working 10 hours less every week. It will help you dial in your personalized productivity, get your practice organized and level up your delegation skills. Buy the book here.

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