Get All Access for $5/mo

How to Delegate Effectively Without Ruining Your Team If you, as a business owner, are constantly juggling every ball in the company, how on earth do you have any hands left to plan, strategize and move your business forward?

By Jason Zickerman Edited by Micah Zimmerman

Key Takeaways

  • Lack of delegation leaves substantial money on the table due to missed opportunities, high employee turnover and personal burnout.
  • Delegation allows you to create a better balance in your life and free up more precious time to do what you love.

Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.

There is an important distinction between being a business owner and being self-employed, even if you have personnel on the payroll. The difference mostly boils down to an entrepreneur's ability and willingness to delegate the ownership of tasks from themselves to others, whether those people are found within the organization or through outsourcing.

Business owners tend to be very good at delegating important actions and activities to others. After all, they built a solid team to assign tasks to the people they hired for that very purpose. They recognize that they alone can't – and shouldn't – do it all and that any attempt to hold the reins tightly usually comes at the expense of productivity, talent development and innovation.

Think about it. If you, as a business owner, are constantly juggling every ball in the company, how on earth do you have any hands left to plan, strategize and move your business forward? The answer: you don't. So delegation truly is a key driver to business success.

Those people who are considered self-employed retain way too many tasks for themselves. This almost always results in a laundry list of negative impacts to the business. Failure to delegate by the self-employed usually translates to poor productivity, an inability to scale the business and a profound lack of talent growth. And it only gets worse from there.

Lack of delegation leaves substantial money on the table due to missed opportunities, high employee turnover and personal burnout. When the time comes for the owner to implement an exit strategy, these negative factors make a business far less attractive and valuable to potential buyers. It is almost impossible to offload, not to mention monetize, a business that is entirely dependent on the one person who is selling it.

Related: 5 Reasons Why Delegation is a Must for Entrepreneurs

Why don't all business owners delegate better?

Failure to delegate usually boils down to either a fear of letting go or a lack of an executable delegation model – or probably a bit of both. Many business owners feel that letting go of certain duties signifies abdication in some way and lessens their stature as the organization's leader. But this is simply not true.

Business owners can better address executive-level organizational objectives like budgeting, growth strategies and strengthening stakeholder relations by delegating low-level, mid-level and even high-level responsibilities to others.

Another aspect of delegation that sometimes throws business leaders for a loop is the importance of assigning outcomes rather than dictating to delegatees how it gets done. Some leaders want tasks to be performed exactly how they themselves have always performed them, completely disregarding the possibility that there just might be a better way.

Successful delegators give team members the freedom to approach their tasks differently. If the person assigned the task achieves a successful outcome, why not allow them to perform it in a way that makes sense to them? The key here is for the business owner to implement a strong feedback loop to ensure the team member achieves the expected results.

Related: 5 Tips to Master the Delicate Art of Delegation

How to be a better delegator

Delegation is essential to great leadership and is a skill that can be honed. A good rule of thumb, particularly if the thought of delegation is overwhelming, is to start small. Consider just a few tasks that make sense to assign to someone else — activities that you, as the leader of your organization, should simply not be performing. Then, start strategizing who would be best suited to own those duties.

As you embark on creating a smart delegation strategy, there are important factors to consider that will help ensure smooth transitions and overall success.

Know your team's strengths and talents

Before embarking on your delegation strategy, first evaluate your team's skills. Understanding individual talents and expertise is important to ensure tasks are assigned to the right person.

Also, consider your employees' bandwidth. Loading extra work on already maxed-out team members is a recipe for disaster and can catalyze employee turnover. Make sure delegatees have the time and the tools they need to succeed. You might consider contracting it out if nobody in your organization can perform the work.

Related: Why Most Entrepreneurs Aren't Delegating Effectively

Define expectations and objectives

Successful delegation starts with clear and specific expectations and a shared understanding of the task's objectives. As you hand off work to others, share your perspective on desired outcomes, relevant guidelines and important deadlines.

Particularly early on, implement a strong feedback loop and plenty of opportunity for question-and-answer sessions. It is important that delegatees understand the significance of the tasks they are performing.

Believe in your people

Trust is a central component of every successful delegation strategy. Resist the urge to micromanage; instead, allow your team members at least some autonomy on how they choose to perform the duty. Empowering them to make their own decisions within the defined scope of the task can be a strong motivator.

By mastering the art of delegation as a business owner, you can better focus on strategic objectives, develop your team's skills and improve overall productivity. On a personal note, delegation also allows you to create a better balance in your life and free up more precious time to do what you love. And when it comes time to design your exit strategy, the value of the business is not dependent on you.

Jason Zickerman

Entrepreneur Leadership Network® Contributor

CEO of The Alternative Board | Business Development and Growth Advisor

Jason Zickerman is the President and CEO of The Alternative Board, an international organization helping business owners and their leadership teams improve business and change lives.

Want to be an Entrepreneur Leadership Network contributor? Apply now to join.

Editor's Pick

Side Hustle

'The Work Just Fills My Soul': She Turned Her Creative Side Hustle Into a 6-Figure 'Dream' Business

Kayla Valerio, owner of vivid hair salon Haus of Color, transformed her passion into a lucrative venture.

Marketing

6 Cost-Effective Ways to Acquire Brand Ambassadors

Boost your brand's visibility and credibility with budget-friendly strategies for acquiring brand ambassadors.

Making a Change

Mastering Resilience: Learn to Detach Mistakes from Your Self-Worth with Darrell Vesterfelt

A moment of crisis led to his partners asking him to step away from one of the businesses that he co-founded

Devices

Remove Unwanted Files from Your Work Mac Fast with This $32 Lifetime License

MacCleanse can help you safely and securely clean up your computer.

Growing a Business

This Nurse-Turned-Entrepreneur Saw the Needs of Underserved Communities Firsthand. Now, His Company Uses AI to Help Them.

Kwamane Liddell, the innovative founder behind ThriveLink, shares his entrepreneurial journey.

Business Ideas

63 Small Business Ideas to Start in 2024

We put together a list of the best, most profitable small business ideas for entrepreneurs to pursue in 2024.