Let Them Own It


One of the hardest things to do is to let go of the seemingly important stuff.  Startup leaders sometimes assume that no one else can navigate their day-to-day duties because after all, they are the ones who established them.  Assumptions are made that details will be over-looked or that accountability will be sacrificed.  “How could anyone possibly care as much as I do?” is a phrase that I often hear.

I’ve got news for you.  If you give your employees the ability to make a difference, you could be pleasantly surprised.  Hire correctly from the start or transform your average player in to your MVP by following these rules:


  • List your daily action items and separate them by tasks that “need you”, “may need you” and “don’t need you”.
  • Calculate how much your time is worth in dollars based on completing each item.  Assign a total value to each task.
  • Delegate in phases starting with “don’t need you”, then “may need you”, etc.
  • Ask for volunteers who would like to take on more responsibility in an effort to learn more about the business.
  • Give them the access, tools, resources, time, etc. and allow them to ask questions as frequently as needed.
  • Allow them to make mistakes and use it as a learning exercise to make themselves accountable.
  • Reward them unexpectedly with a small bonus equal to the value of the task.


  • Micromanage or visibly question their actions.  Earned trust is a two-way street.  Process can always be discussed and refined later.
  • Assume that your way of completing the task is the best way.  Different people have different approaches.
  • Assume that the amount of effort or time it took you to complete the task to your standards is applicable to everyone.
  • Over-complicate or over-think things.  What you deem complicated today will likely be a breeze for someone who learns and eventually masters it.
  • Take things personally.  Frustration is expressed in many ways by different people…usually while they are learning.

The return that you get far outweighs any perceived risk.  You win even by allowing your employees to make mistakes.  They learn, you reward them accordingly, they become accountable, you let go, and they end up feeling motivated because they actually own something.

2 thoughts on “Let Them Own It

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