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Growing your business starts with the art of delegation

Running a small business means wearing a lot of hats, including that of payroll processor, HR manager, and bookkeeper. Many small business owners manage these types of business operations personally—even if it’s not their forte. 

But these same tasks prevent business owners from doing what they really want to do. Things like building new business strategies, focusing on their customers, or innovating their products and services. Despite this, delegation is still one of the biggest challenges for small business owners. 

If you struggle with delegation, you’re certainly not alone. Many small business owners see delegation as a relinquishing of power or leadership. But the opposite is true. Delegation frees up more time for you to work on growing a successful business, improving your leadership skills, and building an efficient team. Effective delegation can give your employees confidence and make them feel more invested in your business. 

And, let’s face it, you started your business to follow your dreams, not to generate financial statements. Delegating specific tasks like marketing, HR, or bookkeeping to employees who excel in those fields can make your business better.

@quickbooks If you’re ready to free up more time to focus on growing a successful business, then you’ll want to learn how to delegate effectively. #SmallBusinessTips #BusinessOwner #BusinessSuccess #Entrepreneur ♬ original sound - QuickBooks

5 steps to delegate effectively

In theory, delegation is easy. All you have to do is ask for help. In reality, delegation means giving up some control and putting your trust in others—easier said than done. Here are a few tips to help you overcome your fears and delegate effectively. 

1. Hire the right people 

The key to successful delegation is hiring the right people. People you can trust. If you can’t trust your team to handle simple or repetitive tasks, it’s an indicator that you may need to work on the team you’ve built. 

On the flip side, you may not have given your team a chance to show off what they can do. When you delegate, you allow your employees to shine. You show them that you trust them to get the job done. In return, they may feel more engaged, important, and motivated to succeed. 

That doesn’t mean you should hand tasks out at random. Take a moment to consider who is the best fit for each task. When you play to your workers’ strengths, you’ll feel more confident with the delegation process.

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2. Allow for learning 

If you’re a perfectionist or believe that no one can do the job as well as you can, delegation can be difficult. Because you’re right, they probably won’t do it perfectly the first time. Rather than jumping in and taking over, allow some space for learning. 

When delegating a new task to an employee, follow this four-step process for effective delegation:

  • They watch you. Do the task you intend to delegate while your employee watches. Encourage them to take notes and ask questions. Then debrief with your employee afterward. 
  • You watch them. Once they feel confident, switch roles. Watch as your employee does the task. Offer prompts or feedback when necessary. 
  • They report back. Once you both feel confident in the employee’s ability to accomplish the task without your supervision, step back. Give them the opportunity to do the task on their own and report back to you.
  • They do it. Congratulations! You’ve effectively delegated. Your employee can accomplish the task, and you can feel confident in their abilities. It’s still OK to check in from time to time to offer support. 

3. Communicate effectively

Delegation doesn’t mean washing your hands of a task entirely. Effective team communication ensures you’re never totally out of the loop. And it starts with you. 

Communicate objectives and expectations from the start. Your team should know exactly what you expect from them and how you want the results. If there are particular details you want to know, outline those ahead of time. If needed, create checklists or specialized reports for each task to ensure you get the information you need. 

Your employees shouldn’t feel like you’re watching over their shoulders or controlling their decisions. But they should know that they can always approach you with ideas, questions, or concerns. 

4. Set delegation boundaries

Not all tasks are created equal. Some tasks make more sense to delegate than others. Set clear delegation boundaries, so you always know which tasks to take on and pass off.

Start by evaluating the tasks you currently have on your plate. For each task, ask yourself if someone else on your team could handle it or if there’s a benefit to doing it yourself. You’ll start to see a pattern. Certain tasks are easy to delegate. Others require your attention.

In general, you can delegate tasks 

  • With clearly defined procedures and results.
  • That fit into the business’s day-to-day workflow.
  • That help employees develop their skills and grow. 

Tasks you might want to hold onto are sensitive tasks, such as salary reviews or disciplinary actions, or tasks that involve your entrepreneurial vision. 

5. Back off

Once you’ve delegated a task, back off. If your employee has to come to you for every decision, why delegate? With the right people, training, and boundaries in place, there’s no need for micromanagement. 

Take this opportunity to focus your time and energy on other things, like working on your business. 

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