As a type A marketer, you have a lot to do and not necessarily enough time to get it all done. Although it can be hard, it’s important that we learn to delegate our work so we can focus on what’s most important. Using delegation properly can allow you to grow your business and improve your efficiency without spreading yourself too thin.
Today’s guest is Sean Work, the vice president of inbound marketing at Crazy Egg. He’s learned how to delegate so he can make the most of the time he has to grow his business. He’s going to talk to us today about learning how to delegate well.
Some of the highlights of the show include:
- Information about Crazy Egg and what Sean does there.
- Some of the challenges that Sean faced that caused him to learn how to delegate efficiently.
- Why it’s important to hone your processes before beginning to delegate work to others.
- Why delegation in itself is important.
- How Sean honed his delegation skills, as well as how he has taught his team his processes.
- Steps Sean takes when one of his delegated projects runs into an unexpected problem.
- Sean’s best advice for people who want to get started with delegating to others.
- How much delegation is too much or too little.
Nathan: Are you trying to do too much? Sometimes, we, Type A marketers, want to control everything. It’s not always healthy if you spread yourself too thin, so maybe there’s a better way, maybe there’s a way to hone your processes and delegate them to others on your team, and even a freelancer, to help you get more work done and do it more efficiently too. That’s why we are chatting with Sean Work today. Sean is the Vice President of Inbound Marketing at Crazy Egg. He’s been improving processes, empowering his team to execute efficiently, and focusing his time on massive growth.
I’m Nathan from CoSchedule and I’m excited for you to learn how to delegate super effectively with Sean. Let’s check this out. Hey Sean, thank you so much for being on the podcast.
Sean: Thanks for having me.
Nathan: I’m really excited to talk to you, Sean. I wonder if you could kick us off by telling me about Crazy Egg and a bit about what you do there.
Sean: As you may or may not know, Crazy Egg is a heat map tool. It basically shows you where your website in visitors click on your page. You could do conversion rate optimization exercises. I am a VP of inbound marketing but I basically run the marketing department in Crazy Egg, it’s just a title.
Nathan: Sean, I think that actually ties into what we want to talk about today too because we had chatted about delegation as our topic today. I was wondering if we could just jump into that. What were some challenges you were facing that inspired you to hone your delegation skills?
Sean: I come from a startup and entrepreneurial background. I’m from my own ecommerce shop. I worked at Kissmetrics prior to joining Crazy Egg. Even at Kiss, I ended up doing a lot of heavy lifting and doing a lot of tactical work. What happens is as you get older, you progress. This kind of mindset in the way you do things can be detrimental. You might get in the situation where you’re getting bogged down with technical work and you’re trying to manage to delegate. What you start to learn is that you really have to just move forward and become a delegator, not so much of a technical run anymore. Basically, you should be focusing on delegating, strategizing, measuring, recording results, plotting the course.
Nathan: Actually, I think that your approach to delegation is really interesting. Why did you focus so much on honing your processes first before delegating projects later on?
Sean: You end up seeing this a lot in places that aren’t organized well. If people just get thrown a bunch of work, it can be dangerous because if it’s not thought out well, you end up having your team go back and redo work over again. You know that’s a morale killer. For managers, especially, it’s important to think about how to do it with the best way you can. One thing to do is to start working on process first. I’ve been explaining to people this is why we’re doing process first before we start getting any tasks, because I’m trying to make their lives easier. Help me build this, we’ll build together.
For example, this is a typical one for me. We end up doing a lot of social media artwork and featured images and post. I can constantly send that out to someone, “Hey, can you make this for the day? Can you make one for the day?” Knowing that they need to make one tomorrow, the next day, and so forth. Maybe the first thing we should do is to maybe build a template or a system so that we give this images nice and system branded and then they understand, “Okay, this is going to be a daily process. We’re making it easier.” Things like that.
Nathan: Hey, Sean, I’m wondering too. Why is delegation important?
Sean: It really comes down to just the cost of what your time is worth versus what you can get if you have someone else do it. That’s one part actually. The second part is that having multiple people help you out in the team is more effective than trying to do it all by yourself. First, a lot of people don’t realize that there’s a cost to actually doing things yourself. There’s a cost to even not doing things and holding off and putting something on a back burner, you can measure this off. It’s always a good idea to sit down and see what does it cost me to hold off and think about things versus what the cost is to have you doing something versus what the cost is to have your team do something versus what the cost is to have a contractor, outsider do it.
Nathan: Sean, makes a lot of sense. What exactly did you do as a leader to develop those processes that you could later delegate?
Sean: There’s a story that goes along with this. The first thing that happened is I aged and then having kids helped too. This goes back to being younger, being college and starting businesses when you’re in your 20’s. You have a ton of energy back when you’re at that age. You’re used to sitting in front of the computer all night, no sweat. You think that you have all the time in the world and your mind plays tricks on you. You think that you can get all kinds of stuff done and you just throw everything on the list. Like, “I’ll get to it in the morning. No problem.”
In real life, you have constraints. What I’ve learned is that constraints are a blessing. Once you know that time and energy are finite, you just have to prioritize what you can and can’t do in the day. This is when the process gets built up. It’s when you start understanding this. I think we fall into these traps where we think, “Oh, I could handle this. I’ll help the team out. I’ll delegate a little, maybe and we’ll get it all done. At least, I can go there with them and I’ll be able to check getting stuff done too.” I’ll probably get to this later but I think sometimes, that’s the wrong mindset.
Nathan: Could you give me an example of a specific process that you honed and then later delegated?
Sean: Even at Kiss, one thing that always happens is people always ask me if they can do a guest post to our blog. We love it when people ask this. This is one of our foundations for building content. Normally, I would just blindly get into an email conversation and there’ll be dozens of replies that eventually, months later sometimes, we get a post credit. It’s really time consuming. This year, I finally realized that okay, I got to break this out into a process. I even structured it to have individual email replies canned and ready to go. I passed this on one of our team members. It ended up saving a lot of time.
Another important thing happened, especially just the way I am, without a process, if I’m just answering email, depending on the mood I’m in at that moment, I think it could change my decision process. For example, I might feel that a certain person, it sounds like they’re going to be a great writer and I don’t even have to have them do an outline. I don’t have to really guide them through it. I’ll just go ahead and say, “Hey, just send me the post when you’re done.” That can actually go down a weird territory. Having a process in place, it just avoids any side tracking. It’s just the smartest way to do things.
Nathan: I think you almost think of yourself as a teacher in situations like that too because you’re coming up with these processes you need to teach your team about it. I was wondering, if you could explain how did you teach your team those processes and delegate efficiently?
Sean: It really just comes down to doing screencast. I’m a huge fan of doing screencast. I’ve been replacing emails with screencast. You can spend 45 minutes perfecting an email. It’s kind of ridiculous. I just opened up QuickTime on my Mac, do a screen recording while talking and then throw it up on YouTube. It’s really easy and everyone seems to get it. It’s a fast way of communicating what needs to get done.
I know the whole world loves Trello, but for me, a Google docs spreadsheet has been really effective. We work with a lot of people, contractor, people outside the organization. Everyone has Gmail accounts. It’s really easy to collaborate. Also, a big part of my process implementation is a checklist. One of my buddies has a line and it goes, “Because checklists are good enough for NASA, they should be good enough for us.” A lot of my Google docs spreadsheet are designed to be checked off everything. That’s been really helpful. Everyone understands that and they get in the rhythm, the cadence of going through them.
Nathan: Sean, let’s just say that something that you’ve delegated has hit a snake or something didn’t quite go as well as planned. What do you do if a project hits a snake?
Sean: That’s funny. It actually is happening today, big time. First thing I’ve been doing lately is I just think of Richard Branson. I put a picture of him in my head. What you don’t want to do is get into Steve Jobs mode. You don’t want to get frustrated or angry at the problem. You know your team is full of great people and they’ll help you work it out. Just talk to them. Ask them what’s going to work best in the situation.
One thing that I’ve been thinking about lately is it’s really easy if everyone’s working to help the team out and not themselves. If you got those people on your side, you’re totally good. We’re really lucky at Crazy Egg. Everyone is awesome. They did a really great job hiring. We all come together and solve things. There isn’t a lot of ego or head butting. We’re really good at coming around and trying to figure out the problem together.
Today was a great example. We’re trying to find a host for our blog and we’re trying all these tricks and it’s getting really frustrating but luckily, we seem to agree on what the best course of action is. It’s become really logical, actually. In other companies, you might battle back and forth for weeks on something like this. It all comes down to knowing that you have a good team and everyone fits in the culture well.
Nathan: You’ve mentioned to me once that delegation is a skill that you’ve built over time. I think you’ve alluded to that this whole conversation. It makes me curious if I’m new to this, what sort of books, content, or resources would you recommend to someone looking to improve their delegation skills?
Sean: The first book is The E-Myth Revisited by Michael E. Gerber. This is just a great book especially for entrepreneurs. When I was struggling to run online business, my brother told me to read this book. It’s framed to get the business owner’s mind out of being a technical worker.
One of the classic problems is people that own businesses, they might come from a place where they’re like, “You know what, my boss is a jerk. I could run this company way better.” They go off and start their own business but they still have that tactical mindset and they want to do everything themselves. This book gets right into separating those two things out. From being a tactical worker, to being the manager, to being the owner of the business, it gets into just you should franchise everything in the end but I don’t know, that might be a little too idealistic.
The other book that I recommend, actually this is probably not really for delegation but it’s a really good book for working together as a team. They go hand in hand. That’s Creativity, Inc. by Ed Catmull. He was the guy that started Pixar or was one of the guys. He really gets into how you solve problems and what it really takes. The thing is a lot of stuff is [00:13:37], it takes a lot of time to get something downright. I think he goes from the perspective of a story.
Any story someone comes up with the first draft, it’s just going to be mediocre. That’s never going to be a winner. You have to really work a ton of times before you get a winning story. The same thing goes for any project you’re going through. Ideas might sound good but they’re not going to be executed well until you give them a few rounds of iteration. I think that’s really important when you have a lot of people at the table trying to make decisions.
Someone might always think their idea is going to be great. Other people might think that their idea sucks, whatever. No one is going to know until you really get in there and get dirty and keep going through it. This book really gets into that. I think it’s a really key thing for organizations to be successful. Those two books are the ones I really recommend.
Nathan: For someone else who is new to this, what’s your personal best advice for someone who’s just starting with delegation? Where should they focus?
Sean: This is interesting. It might just be me that has this problem. You get this kind of weird sense of guilt when you’re giving someone else something to do. You might want to say, “I can do this. I can help out here.” You really have to cut yourself off. That’s the first thing. Don’t feel guilty or weird about giving tasks or projects to people. That’s your job.
Another way to look at this too is if you are the captain of a ship, you’re navigating and steering to the final destination’s goal. Something breaks down below. You could run down there and try to fix it but then no one is steering. I think it’s important to frame it in that sailing the seas type of metaphor. Just realize that someone has to strategize, record results, measure, make sure the team has all the tools they need. They’re being treated well. Everyone’s coming together around the problem. You’re talking things out but you’re not spending your own energy and time getting involved doing tactical work.
Nathan: Maybe a second question to talk about that just a little bit more is how much delegation is too much then?
Sean: I think we always under delegate. Chances are you’re not delegating enough. It’s almost the same where you’re trying to reach peak efficiency. Keep testing to see how far you could go, I guess. I bet you, if you measure your performance once you start doing this, you’ll see improvements across the board. Keep measuring. Keep testing. Keep delegating. What’s the cost?
Another thing, especially if you’re a business owner, your personal time is super expensive. It’s really easy to think that delegating or contracting something out, it’s an expensive endeavour but if you actually look at what it cost you to do it. The cost of actually not getting it done because you put too much on your plate and now you’re pushing things off to the side, think about all of that and then use that in your performance reports in your post analysis.
Nathan: Sean, I think that’s all really smart advice. Actually, that wraps it up for us. Just want to say thank you so much for sharing your personal stories on this delegation stuff and helping us learn how to do this ourselves. I appreciate it.
Sean: Thanks for having me.
Nathan: Something our CEO and co-founder, Garrett, talks a lot about at Co Schedule is process, growth, and scale. This essentially means thinking of every project in terms of little experiments then we hone a repeatable process, we know what’ll work to grow our business 10 times over. This way, it’s really easy for us to transition projects to new Co Schedule hires because everything is clearly defined from the get go. Sean, thank you so much for reiterating the importance of process and delegation. You definitely confirmed for me that we are on the right track. Thanks to you too for checking out this episode.
You just heard from Sean Work. He’s the VP of inbound marketing at Crazy Egg. You can catch this episode’s show notes and full transcript at coschedule.com/podcast. Since you’re a big fan of the Actionable Marketing Podcast, I want to give you 30 free days of CO Schedule because you’re awesome. Get organized now by signing up at coschedule.com/actionable. Alright friends, I’m Nathan from CoSchedule. I will catch you on the next episode.