Life Lessons: David Notte

The founder of Wolfgang Commercial Painters discusses how letting go to grow is a continual process
David Notte, founder, Wolfgang Commercial Painters

Like many entrepreneurs, David Notte was deeply involved in the day-to-day running of his business when he decided to step back. The founder and CEO of Wolfgang Commercial Painters wanted to spend time with his young family – he has three children under eight years old – and free up his days to explore new business ventures.

To accomplish this and move responsibilities off his plate, he recently increased his sales force to six reps from two. But, as he's learned, delegating doesn't mean just dropping work on other people's desks and expecting them to run with it.

Notte said that in the past he handed over responsibility too quickly. That resulted in his company losing project managers because "they just become overwhelmed and the expectations are too high, too early."

Delegating work successfully, he learned, takes time and patience and requires adhering to a specific process.

"If you let go all at once – say, of management responsibilities or leadership responsibilities – that's more akin to dumping than it is to true delegation," Notte said, pointing out that it's easy for people to feel as if they've been thrown to the wolves.

He added that effective delegation is incremental. It includes training, coaching and goal setting in a cycle that has to be repeated multiple times to set people up for success.

"After you've been working with someone for a year or two, you can say to yourself sometimes, 'Do we have to go through this cycle one more time?' Yes, you do if you really want to advance the organization."

Notte said effective delegators are patient and allow mistakes. They're also supportive and hold staff accountable when necessary. That approach, he said, will lead to a high sense of association and a commitment to doing a great job.

Notte said that freeing up his time and shifting responsibility to well-prepared sales reps has allowed Wolfgang to expand into areas of the city it hadn't previously been doing business and to work with a wider variety of companies.

"The opportunities have just exploded for us," he said. "The business is set up to grow exponentially now."

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