…First of all, you need to understand that good delegation is beneficial for the leader and the company. It has a number of benefits and significantly improves the work of the organization, at the same time making people feel better and more confident in the organization. They can prove themselves and take responsibility for it, and in nowadays organizations, people want to take this responsibility and have an influence on what they do.
As part of my series about the “How To Delegate Effectively and Be Completely Satisfied With the Results”, I had the pleasure of interviewing Piotr Sędzik, CEO and Co-founder of Applover, a full-stack digital agency, honored in 2019 by Deloitte as the “Rising Star” in the CEE region and as a 24th Fast 50 company in 2020. Finalist of Forbes 25 under 25 in 2018. CEO of Smart Citizen, a company that studies urban agglomerations to improve the quality of life of their citizens.
Thank you so much for joining us in this interview series! Before we dive in, our readers would love to “get to know you” a bit better. Can you tell us a bit about your ‘backstory’ and how you got started?
From an early age, I had the belief in the back of my head that I would like to create something of my own. I wanted something real for which I will be responsible in the future. I just felt like making decisions on which way my target project would develop. Besides, maybe immodestly, but I always had an inner knack for entrepreneurship. When I was a teenager, I started a company that organized events for peers, then there were several unsuccessful startup projects, and finally, based on my experience in building products, my 3 friends and I decided that we would start a Full-Stack Digital Agency — and that’s how Applover was founded.
Can you tell us a story about the hard times that you faced when you first started your journey? Did you ever consider giving up? Where did you get the drive to continue even though things were so hard?
Of course, I had thoughts about giving up in the past when the moment of doubt came. The IT market is a very dynamic sector, customers, employees and projects are highly demanding and a large number of important decisions must be made every day within a limited time. To avoid such thoughts, I decided to start running in which, to achieve anything, you need dedication, commitment and… patience. I have learned patience through the running and this is how I see Applover today. We have long-term goals that we want to achieve. I am aware that the road will not be easy, and this is what’s helping me overcome further obstacles.
Can you share a story about the funniest mistake you made when you were first starting? Can you tell us what lessons or ‘takeaways’ you learned from that?
It is tough to choose just one mistake, as for over 4 years of operating there were just so many. But probably one of the funniest ones, in my opinion, was when we went to a fairly large industry conference. And at that time at conferences, we did not avoid alcohol. On the day before the main event, we let the steam go off at the party. The next day I had a panel speech at 8:30 am with the mayors of several large cities and the president of the largest hotel chain in the CEE. It was a prominent expert panel. As you can probably imagine, I did not look my best. I also spoke and communicated my thoughts not too brilliantly. What is worst, the moderator of the meeting had mistaken the questions. Instead of asking me about technologies and startups, he wanted me to answer the questions that were supposed to be responded to by the absent Polish minister of tourism. Completely hungover, I was asked about the road infrastructure in Poland and the legal conditions of the investment. You can probably guess that I was not hailed as the best expert at the conference. We quickly ran down the panel so as not to meet anyone’s eyes. Luckily, at 8:30, it didn’t have much attendance in the room. The lesson was learned, today, we are much more conscious about our speeches, we prepare as much as we can for them. And we let the steam go off in another way — I started running.
What do you think makes your company stand out? Can you share a story?
I believe that we are distinguished by the really unique energy that we have in our company and which we give to the client when they decide to cooperate with us. Moreover, we are very much involved in every project, we become part of the client’s team. We are always eager to advise, propose and together create the greatest possible value for the client’s organization.
Which tips would you recommend to your colleagues in your industry to help them to thrive and not “burn out”?
In my experience, it is important to have a dedicated and well-coordinated team around you, then you feel a common motivation and a shared road to the goal. This allows you to always lean on someone and learn from their experiences.
Moreover, you need to have the ability to separate work from private life. When you leave the office, you should let your mind go off from the work-related issues. In my opinion, having some hobbies that you really enjoy helps with this.
And last, but definitely not least — efficient delegation of tasks to team members. Thanks to this, you know there is always someone who is responsible for their areas and that there is not everything on your shoulders. What is more, engaging your team in key areas in the company, so that they also take responsibility for them and can always help you. When you start to delegate properly, your company will thrive and you will be able to go on vacation and let your steam go off.
None of us are able to achieve success without some help along the way. Is there a particular person who you are grateful towards who helped get you to where you are? Can you share a story?
I must admit that I am really grateful to my parents. I always could count on them, in every situation. It gave me a lot in the context of starting my own company because I had no fear that if I failed, what would happen next. I mean, there was fear, but it was smaller. Thanks to my parents, because I knew that even if I did not succeed and lose all my savings, they would help me and somehow I would get back on track. You can make more risky decisions thanks to this and you can be just more courageous when it comes to starting your own business.
Ok, thank you for all that. Now let’s shift to the main focus of this interview. Delegating effectively is a challenge for many leaders. Let’s put first things first. Can you help articulate to our readers a few reasons why delegating is such an important skill for a leader or a business owner to develop?
Delegating is a must if you want your organization to grow and your team to want to work with you. You are not alone in a company, it consists of many different links that must effectively cooperate with each other and be effectively managed for the company to develop further.
The larger the company, the more of these links there are and the more it is necessary for everyone to know what their role is and what are their goals and how it will translate into results in the organization. When you give people responsibilities they feel engaged, they know they have an impact on their area of expertise and they do their best to make it happen.
Most importantly, you can’t do everything by yourself, even if you feel that you could do something better. Firstly, there would not be enough time for it, and secondly, it would be completely ineffective. It is much more useful in the role of a leader that they have a good plan of work at each level, and that they distribute the appropriate tasks so that the sum of work done at each level contributes to the development of the organization.
In addition, by appropriate delegation, we allow individuals in the organization to spread their wings. Give them responsibility for specific topics. They are often specialized and much more competent people in a given plot. Thanks to this, they will do the tasks better, and this will contribute to the development of the organization.
Can you help articulate a few of the reasons why delegating is such a challenge for so many people?
You need to trust your team and leaders to delegate. You have to feel confident that you hired the right people who are up to the task. In my opinion and experience, delegating is challenging, when you have:
- Limited trust
- Feeling that you will do something better yourself
- No 100% control of the topic
- Inability to communicate the purpose of a given task
- Mismatch of tasks to a given person.
So when you take care of these areas, delegating is much easier and your team can thrive at their new challenges.
In your opinion, what pivots need to be made, either in perspective or in work habits, to help alleviate some of the challenges you mentioned?
First of all, you need to understand that good delegation is beneficial for the leader and the company. It has a number of benefits and significantly improves the work of the organization, at the same time making people feel better and more confident in the organization. They can prove themselves and take responsibility for it, and in nowadays organizations, people want to take this responsibility and have an influence on what they do.
Can you please share your “Five Things You Need To Know To Delegate Effectively and Be Completely Satisfied With the Results?” Please share a story or an example for each.
I believe that 5 things you need to know to delegate effectively are:
- Building the belief that you have a team around you that you can trust and to which you can delegate tasks
- Precise and clear definition of the effect (maybe KPI) you expect, not the roads, let them choose the way themselves.
- Identify other factors that you care about — time, resources available, etc.
- Creating an atmosphere of support, so that the person who took on the task, but has some problems, knows who to report to and they have the feeling that despite the fact that in the end, they are responsible for the task, we are a team and we will always help each other.
- Objective settlement of goals achieved, providing meaningful feedback, rewarding for well-performed tasks.
One of the obstacles to proper delegating is the oft quoted cliche “If you want something done right do it yourself.” Is this saying true? Is it false? Is there a way to reconcile it with the importance of delegating?
It depends, of course, but if we consider this statement on a company-wide level, I think it is false. With such a wide range of tasks and such a wide area of competence that must be covered, one person, even the best, will not be able to cover them and do all of them. So I believe that delegation of tasks is a basic skill if you want to build a growing organization and scale it over time to an even higher level.
Thank you for all of that. We are nearly done. You are a person of great influence. If you could start a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger. 🙂
I believe that if you are given something, try to share it with others. Do good and give back — I really trust that this works well for everyone. If you are lucky enough to not struggle during the global pandemic, right now, try to help others. At Applover, we are always operating with this idea in mind. That was why we decided to join Tech to the Rescue initiative and support NGOs that help fight the Covid-19 pandemic. Thanks to it, we helped a great organization that allows you to easily donate to charity while shopping — Altruisto.
How can our readers further follow you online?
This was very inspiring. Thank you so much for the time you spent with this!