Episode 315

Stop Hoarding Tasks and Start Delegating with Pete Dupuis

In this episode, Pete Dupuis joins me to talk about why you should stop hoarding tasks and start delegating.

[00:00:00] Hello, my friend on today’s episode, I’m speaking with Pete and we are talking about the fact that most gym owners are the bottleneck to the growth of their own business that you, my friend, or the often the thing that’s getting in the way of your gym growing. And that’s because many gym owners are not good at delegating.

They’re not good at getting things off their plate and leveraging their team to grow their overall. Capacity. So in this episode, we talk about that issue and we give you five rules to effective delegating, to help you start to get out of your own way and grow your gym. So if that sounds useful, keep on listening, my friend.

Welcome to the Business for Unicorns podcast where we help gym owners unleash the full potential of their business. I’m your host, Michael Kehler. Join me each week for actionable advice, expert insights, and the inside scoop [00:01:00] on what it really takes to level up your gym. Get ready to unlock your potential.

I’ve become a real unicorn in the fitness industry. Let’s begin

one more thing. Before we jump into today’s episode for the first time ever, we at Pacific unicorns have teamed up with our friends at perform better to create something called the gym owner masterclass. And during this live workshop, Mark and Pete are going to be giving gym owners an inside sneak peek at over 30 years combined experience running Kresge sports performance and Mark Fisher fitness.

It’s a real. Peek behind the curtain, but not only that mark and Pete will be joined by Ben, who you all know from this podcast, Phillip is a unicorns coach and our COO. And he’ll, they’ll be sharing what’s working right now with gym owners that we work with from all over the world and how we are helping them to create more impact, more income and more freedom, which is what we know you all want.

This workshop is going to sell out [00:02:00] quickly. There is a very limited capacity and we think you should get your tickets soon because we are just announcing it now. And early bird. And March 22nd, the most important thing I’ll say here is this is crazy cheap. It’s only 149 for this, this workshop. You’ll never see anything this valuable, this cheap again.

And so click the link below in the show notes, see if you can make it. If you can, it’ll be so worth your time. If you do it before March 22nd, you’ll save big bucks. So, um, that way I hope that our team will see you there and, uh, let’s go on with the podcast. Hello, fitness business nerds. What’s up? Welcome to another episode of the Business for Unicorns podcast.

I’m back again with Pete. How are you, my friend? I’m doing very well. And yourself? Good, good. I’m excited for today’s topic, which is Delegating. We’re talking about the fact that many gym owners that we talk to, I’ll speak for myself, gym owners that I talk to are often doing it all. They’re wearing all the [00:03:00] hats.

They are the marketer. They are the salesperson. They are the janitor. They are the HR department. They are the, um, the head program designer. They are the, they are everything. Uh, they’re the, they’re the snow plower, uh, of the parking lot. You know, they are doing it all. And many of them. Just really stink at delegating.

So Pete, let’s kick it off with this. Why do you think delegating is so hard for so many people? Well, I didn’t open my business thinking that I was going to have a big team. I don’t really know what I thought I was going to have, but I definitely didn’t think I was going to be a one man HR department someday.

And so we get into it and we make ourselves indispensable in a number of different ways. And then it feels. Kind of scary giving up roles that you and only you know how to do because you feel like you become Dispensable. That’s that’s how I think about it. Yeah 100 percent I hear that all the time [00:04:00] from Unicorn Society members that we talked to is that they’re afraid to give it up because they’re afraid By giving it to someone else.

It’s gonna go poorly They’re not going to be able to do it as well that that. And also I think on a deeper level, I’ll be, I’ll do like some, um, armchair psychology here, uh, that on a deeper level, I think our identities are tied up to all the ways that we are useful to people. So the fact that we’re the ones that people have to come to for certain things feels good.

It feels good that they have to come and ask us questions. It feels good that we have the answers. It feels good that we’re the only one that has ever done that thing. So we’re really good at it. Um, and I think letting that go sometimes is a challenge to our identities. Um, so I’m sure there’s many more reasons, but for those of you listening who struggle to delegate, just know that you’re not alone.

Pete and I have both struggled with ourselves. Talk to people all the time who own gyms, who struggle with letting go and delegating. But let’s talk about the flip side of what’s possible here, Pete. So when we, when gym owners get good at delegating, like what’s the [00:05:00] promise here? Like why, why get good at this?

Expand your capacity. I I’ve told on the podcast, I’d assume on some occasion in the past that when we went into lockdown for COVID, I decided to keep the payroll faucet running. And it meant that I wasn’t taking paychecks where everyone else was so that I could be dad and. Spouse and kindergarten teacher and all these things.

And the first thing I did there, because I was, I’d say maybe more resentful of the fact that everybody was getting paid and I wasn’t, was I delegated liberally. And before that I didn’t, but at that point it was like, you know what? I shouldn’t be buried. Stressful workload if everybody else has bandwidth and nothing to fill their time with and I delegated everything pretty quickly And I learned that the things that I liked being the gatekeeper on and thought I was better at than everybody else I just plain wasn’t For me I got I got [00:06:00] forced into this realization that the team has more competency than I expected because of unique world circumstances.

But I don’t know how quickly I would have got there. And there are certain things I wouldn’t have delegated. And you use the past tense when you say Peter and Michael have struggled with these things in the past. I still struggle to delegate certain things. That’s fair. There are definitely things on my plate that I should not be handling.

Because there are other people on the team who have the, um, capacity to do so and, and like taking on additional responsibility. And I need to remind myself of this regularly. Yeah, I mean, well said, my friend. I think that, you know, you described the benefits to a T, which is, at the, at a minimum, when you get better at delegating, you get out of your own way.

Right? You expand your capacity. In many cases, you stop being the bottleneck to your gym’s growth by getting out of your own way and, and creating more opportunities for others. Uh, and a best case scenario, which happens a lot, which is you find other people who are actually better at doing that [00:07:00] thing than you were.

Uh, maybe not at first, but over time, they become way better than you could have ever been at doing that thing. And maybe they even like it more. So there’s a lot of promise here, but let’s dive in. We have basically five rules for effective delegating that we have in our delegation playbook for our Unicorn Society members.

We don’t have time to go through this in great detail, but we thought we’d just go through these kind of five rules for effective The delegating for all of you listeners. So take some notes, um, and let’s dive in. I’ll do the first one, Pete. The first one is be patient. So I think so many people go to delegate when there’s a time crunch thinking, Oh, I’ll just get this off my plate real quick.

That’s not how delegating works. Delegating in some cases, it can, when it’s a small task asking for help on something tiny, but truly getting something important off your plate for good. Often it doesn’t happen in a single conversation. Often it takes time and energy to really, really truly train and hand off a task to someone else.[00:08:00]

And once you do that and you do it well, there’s a promise of long term freedom of never ever having to do that task again. But I think the first mistake people make, which makes this the first rule is like, you got to be patient. Delegating is not a quick fix and it’s going to take often more than a single conversation to get something permanently off your plate.

What would you add to that, Pete? We use the term important task if If we consider it important, we can’t rush it. What’s I mean, why are we treating something that should be prioritized as something that also should be executed quickly and carelessly? So patients in all facets of our business will be something that we’re preaching here pretty consistently, but especially here.

Yeah. So when you need to get something off your plate, need to get something off your plate, make time to do it. Make time to do it might be like two or three conversations with that person to really train them up, et cetera, um, which kind of leads into the second rule for delegating. You want to take us take this one, Pete?

Yeah. Second one is pick the right [00:09:00] people. Um, I think that you are probably in some capacity already doing this well in other spaces in your gym. And so an example that comes to mind very quickly for me is that I’m asked routinely on our coaching calls, how we decide who handles which athletes in my gym.

And I say, well, we have a pretty solid understanding of the unique areas of expertise of each member of our team. And the things that drive decision making on this front are injury history and supportive choice or specific goals. And as people start to answer these questions for me during the vetting process, I check boxes in my head of which staff members best positioned to take care of that athlete from an assessment programming standpoint.

And it’s just a habit that we have in place. So in theory, every time we schedule a new assessment. And I assign a staff member and I, I mentioned what the injury history is, the background, the, you know, the gender, the sports choice, all these things. It just makes sense when someone looks at it, they’re like, Oh, of course, [00:10:00] Joe got out of that assessment.

That’s his sweet spot. That’s his bread and butter. And so we’re doing this. You have habits of picking the right people for the right reasons in your space. It’s just that they are, um, I would say they have more talents than we give them credit for that aren’t singularly attached to their ability to design a training program.

And so you can kind of move these habits into evaluating the, the staff member as a whole, not just their very unique tactical technical skill set. Yeah, I think that’s such a great example, Pete, that the fact that like many gym owners are already good at kind of matching people up based on their personality and their skills, but sometimes they just they take that shortcut.

It goes back to number one, where they try and do it quickly. They try and delegate to whoever is available. Well, that person’s free. That person seems to have time, right? Okay. Yeah. But do they have the right skills? Are they interested? Can they grow into this role? Can they be better than you at it someday?

And unless you really take your time to like, You know, uh, quote, hire slow, right? Delegate [00:11:00] slow to the right people. Um, often you’ll just pick the person that’s convenient, and that’s not always the best match. Yeah. When it comes back to your be patient advice, I mean, it’s funny. We come up with these initiatives.

I, I decide I’m going to delegate this thing today. Well, every day of the week, I have a different staff member off. With six days of operation and six staff members, we’re all off on Sundays and we try and distribute the rest of the off days in an even way. And it very well means that the best person to do the thing I’m excited about in that moment is off that day.

And this urgency, this need to act instantaneously means that I’m running a one in six risk every single time of not picking the person who’s best positioned for this if I’m not being patient. So take your time. You don’t need to delegate the thing on the day you decide you’re going to do it. Great point.

All right, well, moving into rule number three, and rule number three is actually at the start of the delegation. So during one of your first conversations with the person [00:12:00] you want to delegate to, one of the most important things to share, and it’s often not shared at all, is why, why the thing you’re asking to do matters.

This goes back to Simon Sinek’s book, right? Start with why, right? You it’s you all, and I’ve been guilty of this myself all too often. I’ve wanted to delegate something fast to someone who’s just convenient and there. And I will tell them, Hey, I want you to do X, Y, and Z. I’ll tell them what to do. I might even tell them when I want them to do it by.

And those are all really important, but I’ll skip why it matters. So they won’t understand like the importance of the task. So even, you know, something small, like. Asking your trainers to create social media content for your social media channels. You make it really clear on here. I need a video for you once a week.

I need you to send it to me by Friday. It needs to be 30 seconds long. I need to speak to, you know, our avatar, but they don’t know what it’s for. They don’t know why that task matters. So talking about the importance, okay. Here’s the task and here’s why it’s important. That’s important because we have to [00:13:00] drive leads in this business through our social media, which means we have to create content that really connects because you’re a trainer and you do this all the time with our clients, you know, our clients best, you’re best positioned to create content they care about.

And so having your voice represented on our social media is, is really helpful to us attracting new people, right? And even just that, which took what. 15 seconds to say goes a long way at helping people understand like the why behind the what. Um, well, I think some people cut short on this one as well, where they, they think that explaining the why is as simple as saying, Hey, get this one done.

It’s important to me. And that’s it. They stop right there. And totally when, if we’re not clear on what’s important to us. I should say why it’s important to us, not just, Hey, get it done. This is at the top of my list. We just become dictators, not delegators. And so I, I would say don’t stop at the super superficial part of why this is important.

Yeah. Great. I love that. [00:14:00] Um, all right, I’ll hit the fourth one. Um, this one’s trained them well. Um, when I joined unicorn society as a coach back in the spring of 2021, we were doing our last fully, uh, virtual, COVID friendly retreat. And I remember you guys brought in Zingerman’s for a, a presentation on designing better SOPs and it never left me just how important it was that we be specific and detailed to a fault and how we prepare the wording of, of things of this nature.

And it made me realize that I had a really bad habit up to that point of designing SOPs in real time with the people that I was training. So it was kind of like, Hey, sit right here next to me and just watch me do the job I want you to do and take some notes while you’re doing it. And that was dog shit.

And I realized I was perpetually asking my new office manager every year or two or three years to just slide up next to me and watch me do this job. [00:15:00] And so my advice on train them well, is do the hard work first by yourself. Actually document what you’re doing and ask yourself, is this thorough enough that if I wasn’t in the room, someone would get themselves 90 to 95 percent of the way there without having to ask me questions in real time, but design the to do list for training before you sit down because most of us will, whether we want to admit it or not.

Say, Hey, I’m going to show you by doing, and sure. It’s effective to a point, but it’s lazy and it doesn’t scale. And so even before you get to training the person, think about how you want to train them. Does that click with you? Cause we did not discuss this one off camera. 100 percent that makes sense.

Listen, I think you can, if you’ve been doing a task for a while, let’s just say payroll as the owner, you’ve always been the one that runs payroll. I think short in advance, if you can record yourself doing it or write down the steps you take, so you can bring that into a training conversation. Fantastic.

It just helps the person [00:16:00] you’re training have some like guardrails and, you know, direction for the training. And then I think you’re right that having them sit next to you and watch a few times is great. We often talk about the show, tell, do model or tell show, do model. Um, and so I think it’s great to tell them about it, show them how to do it, do it together and then watch them apply it.

Right. And I think that, you know, I think your, your model makes a lot of sense. If you have time in advance to think through the training. Great. Bring some materials to the first session. Then let them watch you, let them take notes, but the end product is not just that they’re good at it by the end, but they’ve created an SOP so that anyone could be good at it.

It’s not just enough to transfer that knowledge to just one other brain. You want to transfer that knowledge to a system that’s recorded somehow, video, text, pictures, you know, and that anyone who has access to that SOP can then get good at it. So that way knowledge is not trapped inside people, but is.

You know, codified inside a process. Exactly. Yeah. Um, well, let’s [00:17:00] do the last one. Let’s do the last one. So let me just recap here. So we got the first is be patient. Delegating takes time to pick the right person for the job or for the task. Three, make sure they know why not just the what and the when, uh, number four.

Pizza. So I’ll train them. Well, take your time to make sure they really get it. And you’re building processes that last. Uh, and number five, this one is the one that she missed. Maybe the most of all this list is offer some praise, express gratitude. If someone really is doing a great job of getting this thing off your plate and taking on this new task, they’d ever done before.

They need praise. There’s a lot of research that shows that when you’re training someone to do something new for the first time, and they’re in that beginner space. With a task, they need lots and lots of praise, and what happens often When a new person joins the team or someone’s taking on a new role is what they often get early on is lots and lots of criticism.

They often get all this feedback about how they’re not doing it right yet. And that’s [00:18:00] useful to an extent, but it has to be matched with and frankly. Outnumbered by the amount of praise and gratitude you show for all the good effort they’ve put in, because listen, they’re going to suck for a little while.

Right. The first few times I’m going to keep using this example, because I know many people do it, you ran payroll the first few dozen times. Probably messed it up a bunch, probably didn’t have an efficient system, didn’t understand how to read the reports, had a really crappy spreadsheet, whatever the case may be, they’re going to hopefully be a little better than you were the first few times, but they’re going to stink for a little while.

And even through that weeks or months of stinking, you need to find some things to praise, some effort to be grateful for. Um, because just beginners need that, that warm hug or else they’re not going to grow to learn and be good at this task. I’m sure both of us have great examples of that happening.

Yeah, I’ll plus one in Keeler’s words that and say that I wouldn’t stop at just [00:19:00] praising face to face. You’re doing a great job. Sure. That’s awesome. I would celebrate their successes amongst their peers as well. So at a staff meeting and an all hands meeting, I would go out of my way to mention that Keillor has picked up this task for me and he’s crushing it.

And I just want to acknowledge that for the room so that you can collectively appreciate how hard he’s working. And I’ve got a series of quotes in the notes app on my phone. And one of them says loyalty in public creates leverage in private. And it pretty much expresses kind of the concept here, which is celebrate the employee in public amongst their peers.

And they’re definitely going to go to war for you. off that radar in the future because they do feel seen and valued. Yeah, I think that’s a great tip, Pete. I think it makes so much sense that you want the whole team to know like, hey, this person took on this new task and they’re crushing it so far. They really have paid attention to detail.

We spent this time together. I’m so grateful for it. I think it’s a great tip. I think it’s a great place to end it. I think those [00:20:00] are, these are five, five rules for delegating. One more time, I’ll say them, which is be patient. Delegating takes time, pick the right people for the task, make sure they know why they’re doing what they’re doing, take time to train them well, and express gratitude, give them praise, let them know they’re on the right track, even if they stink at it at first.

Anything else you would add to this conversation, Pete? No, I like it. I like this topic and I also like the visuals you created in that playbook. Super clean. Good. Good. Yeah. I’m glad it’s, it’s an important one. Cause like I said, I think the pain point here is most of you as gym owners or any small business owner, frankly, we’re often the bottleneck to our business’s growth.

We’re getting in the way because we’re stuck in a specific. Set of tasks, specific way of being. And so delegating and passing things off is one of the, one of the most important ways to help your business grow. So I’m glad we can, I finished with one more thought. Yeah. Please don’t know where to start with this.

I would suggest you ask maybe your number two or second chain of command or your business [00:21:00] partner. And be like, Hey, what are the things that I handle daily? Does it like, do you think I’m out of my mind for continuing to do because whenever I ask that question, I, I don’t get one answer. I get like, Oh, well, since you asked, here’s the five things that you should have already offloaded onto Kevin.

I don’t know why you’re still doing those things. And very rarely are they a surprise, but I’m, I mean, they’re on my radar that there are things that maybe it’s not the most efficient thing for me to be doing. But I am occasionally surprised that they have realized it as well. And it’s a pretty good indicator.

It’s time to make moves on that front. I love that. That’s a great final tip. Yeah. Not sure what to delegate. Go ask people around you. I bet they have a few ideas and it’s great. Uh, it’s also a great way for them to see you model asking for feedback, which is another, another great skill. Yeah, awesome. Well, thanks for a great conversation as always, Pete and your listeners.

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Talk to you soon.