We’ve all heard the expression, “If you want something done right, do it yourself.” And as small business owners and managers, it’s easy to feel there’s an awful lot of truth to this adage.
However, we also know that doing everything ourselves is not a sustainable option, especially as our businesses grow and change. That’s why knowing how to delegate effectively becomes incredibly important.
Knowing when to delegate
A number of factors can indicate that it’s time for you to start sharing tasks with others – either inside or outside your business. Do any of the following three indicators sound familiar?
- You’re feeling overburdened by administrative and other tasks that are keeping you from the more important stuff, such as talking to customers and growing your business.
- You don’t actually like doing some of the (still important) tasks that help make your business what it is.
- Certain tasks are costing you money, whether in terms of time, effort or resources.
Left unchecked, these first two bullets can signal early burnout for you, and the third can mean bad news for your bottom line. If any of these ring true for you, proactively tracking your time is a good place to start turning things around.
It can help you identify ‘time sucks’, those tasks that are taking too much of your energy or attention; areas of the business you may be short-changing, and general ebbs and flows in your daily (or weekly or monthly) calendar. Ultimately, time trackers can help you determine where and when you need to delegate.
Taking inventory of your resources (both human and technological)
Once you have a clearer picture of how you spend your time (and how you should be spending it), it’s time to ask yourself a number of questions:
- Do I really need to do [insert task here] myself? Realistically, could someone else look after it? Be honest!
- What are your own strengths and weaknesses? It’s your ‘Do what you’re good at!’.
- What are the strengths and weaknesses of your employees or contractors? Play to these strengths.
- What skills, resources or both do you need to fill any gaps?
In answering these, you’ll have some decisions to make. If you’re a one-man or one-woman show, it may finally be time to hire someone part- or even full-time with the skills you need or outsource certain tasks (to a virtual assistant, a social media manager, or a bookkeeper, for instance).
Also, look into technology; lots of software programs and apps are available that can help you streamline your processes, such as the above-mentioned time trackers and bookkeeping software. Remember: this is a form of delegating, too.
Biting the bullet
Like Nike says, just do it! No, this won’t be easy but if you make the following part of your delegation plan, you’ll increase your chances of successfully offloading some responsibilities:
- Know the task yourself. Presumably, if you’ve been handling everything yourself until now, you do. But it’s certainly easier to delegate if you know how to clearly explain the necessary task – and still provide support in a pinch.
- Give employees or contractors comprehensive guidelines (in writing is best), a sense of ownership, responsibility, and incentives. You’re more likely to get the best out of people if they have a clear understanding of objectives and if they feel like you value their contribution.
- However, be open to doing something differently (someone else’s way), as long as you get the end result you want – and when you want it. After all, no-one likes a micromanager!
- Foster communication. Clear and regular two-way communication is key to making sure your foray into delegation runs smoothly
It’s okay to need help. And though effective delegation won’t happen overnight, by putting this advice into practice, eventually you’ll learn to let go both for your benefit and the benefit of your company.
To read more articles related to Staff and Employees, visit here.