Delegation is both an art and a science. There are definitely better and worse ways to do it but judging exactly what to delegate and to who, takes a bit of trial and judgement.
In this article we will look at what to delegate, when and how. We will also look at why this can be difficult to do in practice.
So what should you delegate?
The simple answer is anything that you can. As your business expands and your team grows, you will find that your workload also increases. You have a limited amount of work that you can do so when choosing what to focus on, you need to make sure you spend your time on the activities that add the most value to your business. This will vary depending on your skills and situation, but it will probably not include organizational or admin tasks. Operational issues are likely to be ripe for delegation, but your situation will vary. But in general, if you can delegate it to someone, you should.
But why should I delegate?
You are the vision and driving force behind the business and it is important that you spend your time on what will bring the most benefit to you and your team. Another reason to try to “over-delegate” is to familiarize yourself to delegation, get used to trusting others and also get used to giving instructions well, so that the delegation is actually effective. If you learn to do that with admin tasks, then the number of mistakes generated when you delegate more business-critical issues will be lower.
Minimising mistakes in delegation is usually a matter of how you communicate what it is that you want to be done. Typically, we will give someone a set of instructions, or a set of tasks to carry out. This is natural, but there are some problems:
1) It teaches your people to think in terms of activity, instead of outcomes and results.
2) If your method doesn’t work, they will stop after carrying out the delegated tasks, whether or not it actually achieved what you wanted.
3) It feels like being micro-managed, not delegated to.
So, what should good delegation look like?
Give someone responsibility for a particular part of a business, or the output of a process. Explain very clearly what result you are trying to achieve, and then let them come up with the methods and processes to use to achieve that result. If it works, then you have an opportunity to praise them for a job well done. If it fails, then they will try some other method without you asking them to. Why? Because you delegated the outcome you wanted, not the task to perform.
When it comes to who to delegate to, unless the task itself obviously belongs to one person or function, it never hurts to ask for a volunteer. Offer them support, make sure they understand what you are after. Get them to re-phrase it back to you if necessary, as a double-check. Then give a realistic deadline and check up to offer help periodically.
Sounds simple, so why do we often find ourselves overwhelmed with tasks and activities that we should have delegated months if not years ago?
I think it can all be summed up in the saying “if you want something done well, do it yourself”. There is some truth in this saying; you, the founding entrepreneur, are likely to be more capable and motivated than many of your other team members. But not by much. The main issue is one of communication. We don’t often find it difficult to know what we want, but if you don’t let someone know very carefully and precisely what you are after, they are likely to not quite get it right when you delegate to them.
Have some patience, explain again, offer support and guidance and plenty of scope to choose whatever method they want to get the job done.
Your staff will thank you for not micro-managing, they will grow in skills and confidence and you will be able to focus on what really matters.
Written by Louis Rooney - Empirical Training Solutions