If you trust people more, you’ll have a lot less to do. And my lessons learned

April 3, 2008 by Jared Goralnick


We’re never so vulnerable than when we trust someone – but paradoxically, if we cannot trust, neither can we find love or joy

-Walter Anderson

However much you trust the people that work for you–trust them more.  If no one reports to you, trust that someone could…and find them.  The greatest barrier to getting other people to do your work is you.

Trust at SET Consulting

I run a small business.  Let me give you a tiny background by explaining a portion of a few people’s jobs:

  • Keith designs all of the Excel, Word, and PowerPoint templates
  • David develops most of the Word automation/macros (VBA, .NET)
  • Kevin takes care of the finances

For a while I stood between each of them and the outside world. 

I’d write the specifications, handle client interactions, test the macros, send out the invoices, etc.  All those rules suited me well and offered the security of keeping close tabs on things before they went to the client.  It took so much time!

I still double check on people’s work–but I check their specifications, I review later versions of projects, I get CC’d on emails they send to the client (though I still closely examine the finals).  It saves me time, and they do much better on their portion since I’m not playing as active a role.

Lessons about Trust

The barrier to my doing this before was trust.  I didn’t think they could do as good a job as I could.  They have.  They’ve done better.

Consider saying this out loud: “Other people can do just as well as I can at everything.”  It’s not that you aren’t valuable, but there are only a few things that you’re really good at–most of the other stuff could be done by someone else.

But this isn’t a post about delegating or outsourcing–I’m going to take for granted the value in that.  What often holds people back is that they forget just how many things they could let go of…and instead rely on others.

Here are some lessons learned, for you to consider:

  • People are not out to steal your clients/projects – if you treat people well, the last thing they’ll do is go behind your back
  • Clients are totally cool with getting messages from the people who do the work – just be honest about who’s doing the work and the client won’t mind when you step out of the way
  • Others may not write as well as you, but they do just fine -  you can train people to write more thoroughly or businesslike (that’s what we initially struggled with).  Only with noticeably nonnative speakers will you need a middleman
  • Screw ups aren’t that bad – be open and respectful with people and everyone will be interested in working things out

So go on, pass that task to someone else

Don’t think that you have to do everything yourself.  Consider what tasks you have that could be delegated or outsourced.  Is there anything you’ve been considering asking of someone else at your office but been hesitant?  Give them a chance to impress you.

Have you had any luck with passing on tasks that you were previously hesitant about?  If you were burned, do you have any suggestions for preventing that in the future?

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4 Responses to “If you trust people more, you’ll have a lot less to do. And my lessons learned”


  1. Bob

    You make some very good points about trust and delegation too. A business of one isn’t going to go very far.

  2. Clay Collins | The Growing Life

    Sound advice from a savvy business owner. Keen observations. Great job.

  3. Don Grauel

    Great post. A coach I subscribe to uses a method to free up time so he can devote it to High Leverage Activities, called “The Rule of 46.” Essentially, it says that if you eliminate or delegate 5% of what you do each month for 12 month’s you will free up 46% of your time….that’s a lot of leverage! For me, the first step was doing exactly what you described – give people a chance to impress you. The second step was realizing that I am part of the problem. I quickly recognized (but continute to struggle with) that being the “all omnipotent” problem solver gives my ego a short boost but doesn’t do anything to empower my staff.

  4. Jared Goralnick

    Thanks, Bob and Clay, for the compliments :-)

    Don, you always have such keen insight–thank you for sharing. I looked up your Rule of 46, and this was all I’ve come up with. I completely agree on your other point, as well–there’s something for our ego about keeping responsibility for ourselves…but it doesn’t do us any good.

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