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Suffice it to say that entrepreneurs need an abundance of skills in their arsenal to keep on top of the challenges they face on a daily basis. One such skill: the art of delegation.
Whether you are running a small business with a few employees in house, or working solo and getting support from freelancers -or doing neither but are clearly in need of support from others- you’ll want to make sure that you understand what it takes to be a great delegator.
Because truly, learn this well and your own role at your company can become tremendously pleasant. And if you have ambitions of growing into a bigger company one day, it’s essential that you learn to leverage the skills of others. Indeed, if you are effectively able to hand off work, you are far more likely to succeed in your growth goals.
To be clear, there is much more to delegation than simply getting someone else to do something. Handing off is one thing, but handing off and getting back a high quality result another altogether.
As with most things in business, it is a delicate balance and involves a set of skills that you will need to be constantly refining.
On that note, let’s now have a look at a few essentials for carrying out delegation in an effective manner.
1. Decide what to delegate While this may sound simple, it is actually the cornerstone of successful delegation– to decide what tasks you should hand off. Many people fall into the trap of handing off the tasks they no longer want to do rather than taking the time to decide what would be best tackled by someone else.
Before you delegate any task, then, fully assess all the different jobs you feel you would like to give out, and ask yourself honestly which ones have to stay with you (at least for now).
In any case, the first tasks you delegate should be small and not too time-sensitive. You want to get a feel for the workflow between you and others and again find that balance– one that will result in a consistently high quality of work being done by others. It is better to start small and scale up rather than start with the larger tasks and have to deal with the risk of a highly important job done poorly.
2. Find the right people Once you have decided on the areas in which you are going to start delegating, the next task is to find the appropriate person to delegate to. Get this wrong and you are likely to end up in one of two scenarios– delivering poor quality work, or doing the work yourself.
This may sound obvious, but the fact is that many “delegators” simply hand off to whoever is available rather than to the person best suited to the role. Perhaps there is a bit of laziness there. After all, finding the right person takes time and effort. But it’s far better to take that time and make that effort upfront rather than spend it after the fact fixing any mistakes that have been made.
3. Check in, but don’t outstay your welcome “Letting go” is one of the hardest skills for entrepreneurs to master. But master it you must, because knowing when to supervise and when to back off is absolutely pivotal to successful delegation. Of course you need to know that work is on track –especially when delegating a task for the first time– but micro-manage too much and you may as well have completed the task yourself!
A couple of things will help here: the first is to learn to properly trust others. In this sense, “letting go” is about getting rid of those thoughts which have you convinced that no one can do the job as well as you. Just remind yourself that what that is really about is no one being able to do it “exactly” as you would do it.
The other is to check in at the right time and not hang around too long. Identify upfront what the “milestone tasks” are and clarify that you would like to have a quick (and do make it quick and not hang around too long) look at things as each of those milestone tasks has been completed.
4. Remember you can delegate up as well as down Perhaps the biggest mistake people make when delegating is thinking that they can only give out the fairly easy or manageable tasks. For example, how often have you looked down at your to-do list and decided to only dish out the basic admin jobs, with the mindset that only you are equipped to tackle the heavy lifting?
Delegating is, in fact, a great way to bring in expertise that we ourselves do not have, and the more you do this the better shot you have at growing your company into something bigger. So going back to point two above, do take the time to find the right people– and not just for the basic tasks but also the far more challenging ones.
Remember, you are there to look after your business. Just because you know how to handle your taxes and accounts doesn’t mean you are the most equipped to do so. Equally, the fact that you know your business better than most doesn’t mean you are the most qualified to market or sell it.
The bottom line: use delegation as an opportunity to expand the skillset in order to grow your business– which is, ultimately, your number one job.
5. Once you’ve cracked it, run with it Once you have figured it out, make delegation the main way to go. That is, get into the swing of moving tasks straight from your desk to others the moment they arrive– offering you almost free reign in deciding just how much you have to ultimately do yourself. Ideally, if you can work your way up to this, you are now truly the boss, and set up in such a way that can allow you to achieve more growth if you want it.
Another way to look at this is that if you can hand off one or two things, can you not hand off five or ten or all things? You can, in fact. It’s what managing directors and CEOs do. They then work on strategy more, and on keeping things coordinated and operationally tight.
Just know that you are free to find your balance here. If you wish to be involved, you can be involved on any level. If you feel that you like to be in the middle of things and want to do a number of tasks, do so. Just know that handing most things off is technically doable, and it’s one option entrepreneurs in particular can benefit greatly from as they strive to maintain a healthy balance.
Don’t get stuck
When you have a to-do list longer than your arm, finding the time to delegate can end up seeming like just another “to do”. But if there were ever words to live by when it comes to you entrepreneurs and delegation, they would be: “Just do it”. Because that is what is needed here. Just hand it off. Just get the task off your plate.
Now, of course, you will want to follow some of the above five rules. Finding the right people, handing off the right things, keeping the right level of communication, etc. And as with any skill, the more you practise it, the easier it becomes. So apply the rules from the beginning and stick to them as you work to master delegation.
Finally, keep in mind that the benefits are indeed many. Doing this right is not only key for growing your business, but also key for having more balance as a entrepreneur. Delegation is make or break in this respect.