Do you feel like your to-do list never shrinks? It may be time to start delegating some of your workload to other employees on staff. Many small business owners who figure out how to delegate effectively have more time to focus on other crucial areas of their developing businesses.
Delegation also empowers your staff and helps make them feel like they’re an important part of your business. More work gets completed through effective delegation, helping your business to grow and reach its goals.
Here’s what you need to know about delegating tasks, what skills they need, and when to trust work to others for the most effective outcomes.
What is Delegation?
Delegation is the act of handing over the responsibility of a job or task to another individual. Delegating tasks and managing your workforce is a core part of being a business owner and manager.
As a small business owner, you cannot personally be responsible for completing every task necessary to run a business. You will need to delegate tasks to other employees, managing yours and their workload at the same time.
Examples of Delegation in the Workplace
In a leadership role, your workday is filled with various jobs and tasks that keep the company afloat. But there are not enough hours in the day to cover all responsibilities, such as taking inventory, reordering products, processing payroll, serving customers, and generating financial reports.
As a result, you decide to offload some of these responsibilities on your employees and delegate inventory processing and customer service to others. By choosing specific staff and informing them of their new responsibilities, you are essentially delegating these tasks to your workforce.
For example, if you own a small insurance business and hand over the management of the sales team, you could communicate that you expect a 5% month-over-month sales increase over the next 12 months. Consider setting milestones for delegated tasks so you can monitor their progress before you hit deadlines. After your employees complete the delegated work, provide constructive feedback that they can implement next time.
Small business owners will need to develop specific skills to help with proper delegation. Such skills you should focus on when handing over responsibility to others include:
- Communication Skills: Clearly communicating what is needed for a task while at the same time listening to worker input and feedback to help them succeed.
- Organizational and Time Tracking Skills: Ensuring all deadlines are met, and all staff members are doing what they are supposed to be doing in the time allotted to them.
Patience: Being patient with employees as they learn new skills and tasks.
- Self-Awareness and Awareness of Others: An understanding of when delegating work should be done on your part, as well as how the assigned tasks are progressing from the employee’s perspective.
The Importance of Delegating
Sometimes managers don’t realize they are taking on too many responsibilities or holding on to too much control until it becomes too overwhelming. To help you determine if you and your business could benefit from greater delegation, ask yourself one simple question. If an unexpected event caused you to take a week off work, would your business’s main objectives be reached in your absence?
If the answer is no, then you may be holding on to too much work while ignoring the abilities of your hired staff. Effective delegation is a necessary part of running a business, as one person cannot cover all aspects of a company. Taking on too much work without relinquishing any power to employees will result in decreased productivity, exhaustion, and burnout.
You must allow your staff to take on some of that responsibility, spreading out the workload between people to ensure more gets done without negatively impacting those involved. Delegation is vital to showing your workforce you trust their knowledge and expertise to get the job done right. By entrusting your team with specific tasks, you illustrate that they are valued and respected for their work. This, in turn, can inspire greater commitment and enthusiasm for work throughout your staff.
Successful delegation is not just a big win for you, but it also helps your employees further their career development while benefiting the business as a whole.
When to Delegate as a Small Business Owner
Identifying when you should delegate can be just as crucial as delegation itself. To help you determine when you should assign tasks to others, consider these situations:
Time constraints: When you have too much on your plate and not enough time to get it all done, now is the time to pass on specific tasks to your staff.
Proficiency: If you have a task that you know one of your team members is better and more proficient at- whether their skill set makes the workload easier or quicker- it will benefit the business to hand over this specific responsibility.
Learning Opportunity: If you know a task by heart and think it could be a good training opportunity for one of your colleagues, then show them how to do it to learn and develop their own skillset and knowledge base. Then in the future, you know you can trust them with that task again.
How to Give Your Staff Freedom Over Their Work
Focusing on overall results as opposed to how you expect your employees to complete the task can help get your staff on board with taking on more responsibility. Sometimes you may need things done in a specific way, but if you can give the assigned employee at least some authority on how to complete the delegated work, they take more ownership in the process.
You might provide general guidance, but let your staff make decisions about the methods used to achieve the results you’re seeking. For example, suppose you plan to delegate your marketing responsibilities to an employee. In that case, you could set a guideline for launching a social media marketing campaign but provide autonomy regarding how the individual develops and implements those strategies. Giving your team freedom encourages creative thinking and involves them in your business’s vision.
How to Delegate Effectively
There are certain actions you will need to take to hand off responsibility successfully. Try following these steps to cover all bases when handing over assignments to various staff members.
Determine when you need to delegate work
You can’t successfully delegate if you never know when to let go of control and hand tasks over to someone else. Easily identifying when you need help can save you from the anxiety and stress of over-exerting yourself. By being aware of your and your team’s workload, you can effectively pass on work that would otherwise cause scheduling or resourcing issues.
Hand over work to appropriate employees
Before you begin handing over responsibilities, it’s important to know that the assigned employee can handle the job competently. Looking at the skill sets, work style and attitude of different staff members helps you decide who’s best equipped to handle certain tasks. You should also consider the current workload of the chosen employee before saddling them with extra work to ensure they have the time they need to complete the task at hand successfully.
Imagine that you own a small accounting business and you need assistance completing a complex tax audit for a client. If you delegate the task to your business accountants who are taxation specialists as opposed to your general accountants, this helps to avoid errors that could result in financial loss and damage to your reputation. If you have an administrative assistant with previous writing experience, you might pull them in to write new content for your website.
Explain why you need the work done
To avoid confusion, provide information about why the work needs to be completed, the deadline for completion, and resources that are available to the employees doing the work. Communicate the results that you expect for the tasks or projects that you delegate.
By explaining the reasons behind the task, why it needs to be completed, how it applies to the business, and what happens to the company should the task go uncompleted, you are ensuring the chosen worker understands the importance of their newfound responsibilities.
State what is needed of them
Letting them know the reason for the work is only half of what is needed for good communication and delegation. Providing them with the objective guidelines or necessary instructions to complete the task should follow.
Even if you think the work is simple enough, it is always a good idea to instruct your staff on how the work must be done. Whether that’s ensuring proper protocol and processes, or specifying requirements or end results, always inform the newly responsible employee of what is expected of them.
Hashing out what is needed and how to do it will create a clear path of communication that works both ways. It will also give your staff the opportunity to ask any clarifying questions or pinpoint any issues before undertaking the work. By including detailed instructions from the get-go, you are significantly reducing the chances of mistakes down the line that would inevitably cost your company valuable time and money.
Provide necessary resources and tools
Delegating effectively means ensuring that your chosen employees have the proper resources and tools to get the job done right. Whether that entails giving them access to the company database of relevant information or providing them with safety equipment and the proper personal protective equipment, you need to offer the right support to your team.
If you do not give them the tools they need to succeed, you could be setting them up for failure instead. Therefore, when passing along work to staff members, make sure they have everything necessary to complete the task at hand, just as if you were preparing yourself for the job.
Give them the freedom to problem-solve their way
Setting guidelines and stating what is needed of the employee is only half of effective delegation. Stepping back and allowing them the freedom to complete a task their way, using their skills and experience how they see fit, is just as important.
Providing staff with the freedom to finish the job- as long as all requirements or prerequisites are met- promotes independent thinking and problem-solving. When given this freedom, your chosen team member may even come up with a better way of completing the task than the process currently in use.
There are various ways to help your employees become better problem solvers, so you can delegate tasks continuously, knowing they have the knowledge and out-of-the-box thinking to get things done right.
Relinquishing control when delegating tasks also helps offset the negative effects of micromanaging. If you spend too much time looking over their shoulder and wrestling back control, you can do more harm than good. This can cause tension between both parties, reliance on management, and a hostile work environment. When individuals are given the room to act on their own, it fosters independence, a good work ethic, and a cohesive and reliable team, all at once.
Allocate authority in line with the task
You can’t assign a task to an employee that needs your authorization level to complete the necessary objectives. Suppose you are delegating work that requires security access or authority over other staff members. In that case, you will need to provide them with the relevant power to ensure successful completion.
When handing over these sensitive tasks to employees, you must inform everyone that the specific staff member holds authority over the project and the relevant team members until the task’s end. Your workforce might not listen to them otherwise, so it’s essential to identify what type of authority and how much power they have over specific staff to warrant the completion of the delegated workload.
Review the work and provide feedback
Once you have taken a step back and allow the employee the freedom to complete the delegated work, you can step back into the picture to review what has been accomplished. Now is the time to review the work and offer any constructive feedback or pointers for the future.
Every delegated task can be a learning opportunity for those involved- whether that’s management, learning how to trust and manage staff appropriately, or the employees who have been taught a new task or skill for future use. Therefore, reviewing the process and completed work benefits everyone involved and is an essential part of successful delegation.
If the review is a success, and there is little feedback required, then you can easily hand off the same task to the employee in the future, knowing it is in good and competent hands.
Finally, once the work is completed, always thank your staff for their hard work and commitment. Showing appreciation to employees is an essential part to being a good manager and business owner. When staff feel valued for their efforts and dedication, they will continue to work hard at their job and take satisfaction in their role, ensuring continuous quality performance for the future.
How to Delegate Successfully Without Expertise
Running a successful business requires skills in financial management, sales and marketing, communication, problem solving, leadership, and technology. If you don’t have skills in these areas, consider delegating tasks and projects to other employees or a freelancer.
If you have an online retail business and aren’t comfortable with basic accounting concepts, you could hire a freelance bookkeeper to assist you with that aspect of your operations. Ask your workforce about their previous industry experience to figure out where they can complement your areas of expertise, even if those skills don’t fit neatly within their current job description.
Figuring out how to delegate usefully can improve efficiency, free up your time, and support a positive work environment in the office. Along with successful delegation, you can also improve your work processes by using tools such as QuickBooks Time. This time tracking and employee scheduling software helps business owners and managers track and manage their workforce. Download and try out QuickBooks Time for free today