As the leader of your business it’s important to remember that a) there’s only one of you and b) there are only 24 hours in a day. Unless you want to take the high road to stress you’ll need the ability to delegate tasks to your team.
Delegate tasks effectively will help to develop your staff, reduce the stress you’re under and maximise the efficiency of the business.
Letting go of responsibility for the business can be tough, and poor delegation practices can be harmful, so here are some things to bear in mind.
Measure the importance of the delegate tasks
As the leader you’re responsible for ensuring that tasks are delegated to the right person. If you have an administrator who undertakes the payroll they may be comfortable talking to the accountant. Consider the implications of specific tasks going wrong. If you feel that you cannot afford mistakes then delegate tasks to more senior staff or keep hold of them.
At the same time, handing responsibility to more junior staff can provide them with real opportunities to step up, and will show that they have your trust. You’ll need to get good at judging which tasks lend themselves to that sort of opportunity.
Acknowledge that we’re all different
The fact is we all have different approaches to how we do things. Some people are detail-oriented while others are better at seeing the big picture. Your workforce will consist of both introverts and extraverts. With this in mind consider who would be the most appropriate person for the delegate tasks at hand. Don’t be afraid to push staff outside of their comfort zone, but also be aware that a badly mismatched workload can be demoralising for those to whom it’s assigned.
Understand and trust staff
Whenever anyone does something for the first time there is a learning curve. We don’t always get things correct on the first go — some people might but usually it takes a long time. Bear in mind that you may have to keep a watchful eye on someone when they accept new responsibility but eventually it’ll become second nature for them. Just think back to the first time you started a new job; how long did it take you to get up to speed?
People tend to be instinctively nervous when doing something for the first time. It’s important to create an environment in which people feel comfortable making mistakes, where errors are part of the learning process and they don’t fear recrimination. Give encouragement and provide staff with a support network to draw upon when trying new things.
Empower, guide and reflect
When delegate tasks you can help increase the drive of staff by allowing them to be involved in setting expectations. Discuss what you feel are relevant timeframes and outcomes, but allow them to set the agenda, provided it doesn’t differ too greatly from reasonable expectations. Once complete, take time with staff to reflect on their performance and see what went well and what could be improved upon. You will quickly find that this enables staff to take ownership of their workloads.
It sounds simple, but effective delegation might be one of the most important skills you can master, allowing both your business and your workforce to flourish.
For more help through the early days of your business, visit the starting up portal.