Master the art of delegating
Having built your business from small beginnings, you may be trying to keep a tight rein over everything. But as your business grows, it’s important to recognise that you can’t do everything yourself. There are only 24 hours in a day!
It’s time to learn how to delegate.
However, delegating isn’t about dumping a pile of unwanted tasks on someone’s desk or asking for help at a very busy time. It can be an investment in your business’ future growth.
Many of your weekly tasks may be time consuming, but of low priority and may not play to your core strengths. Some can be done as well as (or even better than) you by other staff members. By giving your employees the chance to develop their skills, you could be motivating them in their current roles, building their skills for the future and, perhaps, preventing them from moving on. Plus, input from others doing a task can lead to new ideas and process improvements.
Most importantly, delegating should free up your time so that you focus on strategic activities and the things that grow your business; it should enable you to work on, rather than in, your business.
So, where do you start?
Do a task audit
Analyse how you spend your week. What takes up most of your time? What are your easy-to-do tasks that don’t require specific expertise? Which of your tasks benefit from your specific strengths? Which are you weak in? Which activities do you dislike or repeatedly put off? Which tasks absolutely must be done by you? Which don’t have to be done by you? Which are low-priority and which have the highest payoff for the business? From questions like these, you should be able to identify some activities that you can easily delegate.
Do a skills audit
What are your strengths and weaknesses when it comes to the tasks you do each week? Which staff members in your business can do the activities you are weak in or tasks that aren’t important to the business’ growth? If no one can, who could you train? Or would it pay to hire someone else? How can you use your limited staff resources to your business’ best advantage? When choosing tasks to delegate, remember to set staff members up for success by giving them work that plays to their strengths and abilities. For example, don’t give invoicing to someone who hates numbers just because he or she has free time.
Some of your tasks may take up a lot of your time because they require specialist knowledge or skills. Would it be more cost-effective to outsource them — for example, to a bookkeeper, accountant, tax agent, great marketer or someone with the right equipment or technology to do them more efficiently?
Be clear and patient
To delegate successfully, you must be clear about what you want done, when you need it done by and why it needs to be done. Good communication is vital as is spending some time explaining or training the person to do the job. Give past examples of how you want the task done. Have patience and be open to questions. Recognise that no one will do things perfectly the first time around and that failure is part of the learning process.
If you start micro-managing, you will defeat the whole purpose of delegation – to save you time. Empower your staff members and make them accountable for their tasks. Allow them to make their own decisions and use their initiative after you’ve handed over the job to them. Things may not always be done the way you’d like, but sometimes, they may be done better. Respect and appreciate the fact that everyone has different ways of doing things. Don’t sweat the small stuff. Focus your attention on issues that matter. And give feedback in a positive, motivating way.
If you find delegating difficult, start small by handing over low priority tasks and then build up as your confidence grows. If you can, set up an early alert system to identify when things are going wrong so that you can step and help to direct them back on track. As your confidence grows, you can delegate more. Delegation isn’t an “all or nothing” process. It also takes practice. Like your staff, you may not do it perfectly the first time around.