Small Business Leadership Academy: Building High Performance Teams (Part II)

Ria Robles, owner of B2B Delivery LLC, was spending the lion’s share of a couple days a week checking and re-checking the complex bills she sends to customers. She reached a point where she asked herself, “Why am I doing accounting?” So, Robles turned the job over to her accountant, but not until the two worked side-by-side, going through the pricing details and the way she scoured the invoices for mistakes.

The story is an important lesson about delegation, explained W. P. Carey clinical assistant professor Ruth Barratt, who taught two classes on how to build high performance teams in the Small Business Leadership Academy (SBLA) where Robles is a student.

SBLA, taught by W. P. Carey School of Business faculty, is an intensive executive education program designed to strengthen the business acumen of small business leaders in Arizona.

If you want to build highly effective teams, you must know how to delegate tasks, according to Barratt.

Here are some concepts and pointers from last night’s class:

  • Think carefully about the task and who might shoulder it. Provide lots of background: paint a picture of a successful outcome if you can. Identify the key points of the project.
  • Encourage employees to give you regular progress reports. These are the junctures where the business owner or manager can provide feedback.
  • Be prepared to accept the fact that someone else probably will not do the job exactly the way you would. If you nitpick your employees will be reluctant to do the task again.


Robles followed the steps when she delegated the billing. Last night, she reported that the accountant does an even better job than she did, and it’s clear that the accountant enjoys ferreting out errors and saving the company money.

Alex Zuran, owner of Phoenix National Laboratories, Inc. described himself as “the guy who does it right.” A self-admitted perfectionist, Zuran performed many of the tasks at his company personally in the past; not any longer.

“Instead of being the guy who does it right, I’m the one who makes sure it’s done right,” he said. His employees can’t always perform the work as fast as he does, and that does affect profitability, but Zuran says employees do master the tasks, and “it’s pretty cool when it happens.”

Zuran said that delegating has “totally changed his role” at the firm, freeing him to build the business. Robles, smiling, said, “I got my Tuesdays and Wednesdays back!”

Last night’s class was the final session in the 10-week course of study. Students came to the W. P. Carey School every Wednesday for four hours of instruction. Next week they graduate.

Keep an eye on the Small Business Leadership Academy’s website for information on next year’s program.

[stextbox id=”info”]The Small Business Leadership Academy (SBLA) is an intensive executive education program designed to strengthen the business acumen of small business leaders in Arizona. The program was jointly developed by the W. P. Carey School of Business and the Salt River Project (SRP), the program’s founding sponsor. Other seat sponsors this year include: Arizona Lottery, Blue Cross Blue Shield of Arizona, Hahnco and U. S. Bank. Each week we will bring you a few salient points from each class as well as comments from the professors themselves and the impact the information has had on the students. For more information about the Small Business Leadership Academy, please visit SBLA’s website.[/stextbox]