Salvaging Millions

Building a team of top performers

Previously, we’ve talked about delegation. My friend DL, who is also co-author of Salvaging Millions, shared a story with me about how his father delegated a task to DL early in his career. When DL first came into management, he was responsible for putting the numbers together for end-of-year projections. His father sent him back to the calculator more than once because he knew DL didn’t have the projections right.

Rather than do the work for him, his father insisted DL rethink the numbers until he learned to think them through properly on his own. This is sound management and good delegation.

You want to train your delegates by having them go through the mistakes themselves. Make them do it. It’s time consuming in the short run, but it will create a winning team in the long run.

You don’t just want followers. You want accomplishers. Accomplishers are people who are capable of taking on a task themselves and completing it. You don’t create accomplishers by doing it for them. You must require that they learn what you are delegating.

Remember, the real gain for DL was the self-confidence he acquired as he matured from the experience. The praise was, “Now I know you can stick with it.” DL’s dad had helped his son cultivate the perseverance necessary for the tough management decisions that would come later. And, the habit of perseverance he established was every bit as important as getting the numbers right!

In one specific instance, to better illustrate, DL worked closely with his father while learning to forecast budgets. DL’s delegated responsibility was to explain the financials to his dad. During those times there were often differences between what had been budgeted and what was actually there. DL’s father would require DL to explain the difference. The father would not do it for the son.

“Well, it’s close,” DL would say. But his dad never accepted the term “close.”

“Why is it off? I want you to tell me why it’s off,” his dad would counter, especially on things like real estate taxes or insurance payments.

In this one instance, the figures on an insurance payment were double the projected cost.

“Maybe it’s just timing,” DL parried.

“No, it’s not timing because we thought that out in the budgeting process. Go back and analyze it until you can tell me why.”

On re-examination, DL found that the company had inadvertently made a double payment. It was $10,000 too much. It was an embarrassment for the young DL, but an incredibly valuable lesson. Had his father pointed it out to him rather than forcing him to find it himself, DL might never have learned the lesson. To this day, DL practices the same technique of requiring his people to work the numbers until they can explain any discrepancies. His managers learn to think through things and bring valid projections forward without wasting time. He has built a team of accomplishers by practicing sound delegation.

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Ron Sturgeon is past owner of AAA Small Car World. In 1999, he sold his six Texas locations, with 140 employees, to Greenleaf. In 2001, he founded North Texas Insurance Auction, which he sold to Copart in 2002. In 2002, his book “Salvaging Millions” was published to help small business owners achieve significant success, and was recently reprinted. In June 2003, he joined the new ownership and management team of GreenLeaf. He also manages his real estate holdings and investments. You can learn more about him at He can be reached at 5940 Eden, Haltom City, TX 76117, or 817-834-3625 ext 6#.