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Delegation Tips for Control Freaks

By Laura Lorber

Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.

The concept of power is an important thing for entrepreneurs. As the owner, one might say that you've achieved your position in your company because you have more power than the others.

But what would happen if you gave some of that power away to your subordinates? Many leaders are reluctant, even loath, to hand over even a small portion of their control. They fear that by doing so, their authority would shrink, their influence would decrease, their employees would stop listening to them and their policies would diminish.

In fact, the exact opposite can be true. Without trivializing those concerns, passing the proverbial power torch can increase your business's efficiency by spreading out responsibilities and enhance its output. If you're personally always fixing every problem your employees face, then you're not really allowing them to resolve their own issues. Although entrepreneurs often prefer to tackle every problem that crops up, no matter how large or small, the reality is that the increasingly busy schedule of business owners might not permit them to do everything themselves.

To empower your employees and encourage resourcefulness, you might consider steering them back to their workstations so that they can come up with their own solutions and, if necessary, return to you with a few options to discuss. The alternative is to appoint a valued supervisor or manager to handle day-to-day problems.

If you've found yourself unable to manage every aspect of your business, here are four important steps you'll need to take in order to delegate your power and make your business more efficient:

  1. Accept the concept. You'll literally need to learn how to "let go."
  2. Chart out the steps. Determine which tasks you should keep as the business owner and which should be handled by management.
  3. Identify your managers. The trick here is to find someone who is capable and who you trust. This may require you to provide appropriate training and some supervision.
  4. Let go. Once these things are in place, sit back and allow others to succeed (under your distant yet watchful eye, of course).

Removing smaller, day-to-day responsibilities from your agenda will enable you to focus more exclusively on "bigger picture" issues, including mapping out the business's mission and vision. In turn, you'll also encourage growth among your staff and yourself, and potentially create a more productive and friendly work environment, too. You might be surprised by the ability of your staff to solve problems and generate great ideas.

Do you have trouble delegating? Or are you a master at it? Share your tips for getting work done through others.

-- David G. Javitch, a columnist for Entrepreneur.com, is an organizational psychologist and president of Javitch Associates, an organizational consulting firm in Newton, Mass.

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