How to Delegate

Delegating is notoriously difficult for many entrepreneurs. You, as the keeper of your business’s vision, have certain ways of doing things and, often, letting go and handing over responsibility to other people can seem very hard. Not delegating may make perfect sense to you, after all who cares as much about your business as you do, who is as invested as you? And who has the time to explain what needs to be done?

In reality, an inability to delegate can lead to more aggravation than it is worth.  Being a poor delegator leads to burnout and, generally, an unhappy work environment for the people who work for you.  Being a good delegator on the other hand increases productivity and innovation within your organization. Luckily, with a little attention and focus delegating is a skill you can develop, and one that is well worth the effort. Here, some strategies for being an effective delegator—and a better manager too.

Five Tips for Better Delegating

Acknowledge that it takes effort. Delegating is part of being a good manager and part of your job—perhaps a very important part of your job. It takes upfront effort and time—and this is why most people who don’t delegate don’t. Don’t fall into this trap. Accept that delegating does take effort, as does just about anything that is worth doing. While it will take time and effort upfront, over the course of the project, delegating will save you time and lead to an increase in productivity.

Keep Your Expectations in Check. One of the best pieces of advice I ever heard was delivered to a group of small business owners in a strategic planning workshop. The facilitator said “no one is your savior, everyone is your partner.” Remember this, especially if you feel you need to be rescued from your own business. In a smaller business or an individual practice in which the owner may be overburdened, expectations can become skewed. No one on your team is there to save you; don’t expect it. Treat everyone like your partner, and concern yourself with making sure that you are being a good partner to your staff, vendors and even your clients.

Know when to delegate, and who to delegate to. According to Mind Tools, a site that helps individuals develop career skills, answering the following questions will help you decide whether a task should be delegated.

  • Is there someone else who has (or can be given) the necessary information or expertise to complete the task? Essentially is this a task that someone else can do, or is it critical that you do it yourself?
  • Does the task provide an opportunity to grow and develop another person’s skills?
  • Is this a task that will recur, in a similar form, in the future?
  • Do you have enough time to delegate the job effectively? Time must be available for adequate training, for questions and answers, for opportunities to check progress, and for rework if that is necessary.
  • Is this a task that I should delegate? Tasks critical for long-term success (for example, recruiting the right people for your team) genuinely do need your attention.

If you can answer “yes” to at least some of the above questions, then  it could well be worth delegating this job.

Similarly,  know whom to delegate to. Pick someone who has the skills to do the job you are delegating, and whom is motivated and self directed. Communicate clearly what the expectations are. Other tasks, you can safely delegate to software, like using our Web-based appointment scheduling tool to book appointments. If there’s a person or piece of software that can handle the task as good as–or even better than–you, and you can use the time to do something more important, then that’s you’re cue.

Get out of the way. Once you delegate a responsibility, you are placing your trust in that person to carry out the task. While it is essential to follow up with someone you’ve delegated a responsibility to, constantly jumping back in to check on how things are going (or worse, micro-managing) will show your colleagues and employees that you do not really trust them. This erodes people’s morale and impedes their productivity, creativity and success. Give the person room to be able to successfully complete their assignment. Remember, while there is an agreed upon goal, they don’t have to get there exactly how you would get there. There are 100 ways to skin a cat.

Finally, give  credit. Now you can take credit for being a good delegator and a good boss, and your employee can take credit for having done a good job, too. For completing the task at hand, through the use of his or her own skills, intelligence and various abilities.  Your job as the boss is to help people shine, just like a good movie director brings out the best in his or her stars.

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