You’ve done all you can to grow your business and now you’re seeing the fruits of your labour. You are getting more calls and your employees are getting busier. There was a time in the not so distant past that you were struggling to find things to do – now the obverse is happening – you have so many tasks on hand that you’re struggling to find some free time. When you’ve reached this point – it may be time to start thinking about delegating some of your tasks to others.
To most business owners, especially those who run small enterprises, delegating some of their work to others is just not something even worth considering. To them, the old adage that “if you want something done right, you have to do it yourself” rings true. It may be, however, you can’t run a business successfully if you insist on personally handling everything by yourself. If you find yourself reluctant to delegate to others, here are some reasons why, sometimes, it’s better to let others do things for you:
It Frees Up Your Time
Would you rather spend time photocopying documents than writing a financial report for a potential investor? Would you choose transcribing minutes over having business meetings with clients? By delegating some not-so-sensitive tasks to others, you will have more time to focus on what’s important – and that is growing your business.
You Develop Skills
Strange as it may sound, you develop skills when you delegate tasks. One such skill is the ability to identify potential amongst your employees. You also develop your leadership and mentoring skills. When you delegate, you don’t just hand off a task to someone. You train the person who will be providing some training (even if it’s an informal 30 minute hand-over), will be monitoring the person’s progress, and will also be evaluating his or her performance.
You Develop Other People’s Skills
By delegating, you are putting people out of their comfort zones and are encouraging them to learn something new. It puts variety in their work and it stimulates their interest.
It Empowers Your Staff
Nothing brings down staff morale more than knowing (or feeling) that they are not trusted. By delegating some of your tasks to others, you are showing them that you trust their skills, their judgement, and their capabilities.
So how do you know which tasks to delegate and which ones you should handle by yourself? If you haven’t delegated anything before, it may be best if you started by delegating simple tasks such as picking up and posting the mail, scanning and photocopying documents, typing letters, and taking out the trash.
If you’re concerned that these are way too simple for your employees to do, others can take up the cudgels. Courier services can handle your mail delivery and pick up requirements, you can have a trainee do the photocopying and typing, and cleaners can be hired to take out the rubbish.
When you feel comfortable about delegating the small stuff, you can start delegating bigger and more important matters to your competent staff.
As previously mentioned, you will need to identify who among those who work for you is capable (or has the capability) to do what you will be asking them to do. Once you have a person in mind, you will have to train him to do this task properly. When you’re training, you have to be patient and you need to keep an open mind. Your employee may do things differently than you but, as long as the end result is the same, then that’s okay. Don’t force your employees to do things your way. You have to learn to let go.
Letting go is probably the most difficult aspect of delegating. It’s when you step back and just watching from afar. In case you want to step in and “help out” – stop yourself from doing that. You’re not helping the person by constantly hovering over his shoulder, you’re micromanaging – and that is not a healthy business practice. You have to learn to trust that the person has been trained well and will get the job done.
Finally, you have to track the progress and make sure you give credit where credit is due. Check with the person every once in a while to see how he’s doing and to give additional guidance or support if it is needed. Once the task has been completed, give feedback. Feedback is important because it reaffirms to your staff that what they have done is correct, and this will give them the encouragement to push on further.
Delegating is a win/win situation for you and your employees. It is something to be embraced not something to be feared. If done properly, you will notice even bigger and better changes not only in the way your business is going, but in the workplace as well.
Photo courtesy of Victor1558 from Flickr