Let’s take a moment to state a universal truth: delegation is hard. You’ve probably heard the saying, “If you want it done right, you’ve got to do it yourself.” It can be difficult to let go of control—but it’s entirely necessary.
As your business grows, you will most likely find yourself struggling to keep up with previously manageable company goals, staff, and approaching deadlines. This is where delegation comes to center stage. When you can delegate effectively, you are freeing yourself up for the tasks that only you can do.
Though few people innately possess the ability to delegate effectively, it is a skill that anyone can learn with enough practice. To help you in this endeavor, I’ve created a list of five tips to help you become a successful delegator and, by extension, a more productive business leader.
Tip #1: Let Go
This is the first tip for a reason. To be a good delegator, you need to learn how to let go of some of the control that you currently have. Don’t be afraid to let another qualified employee learn a new skill to help your company thrive. By hiring well and providing adequate training (more on that later), you’ll still meet your goals while letting your business expand.
If you’re new to delegating, start by assigning some of your smaller tasks to a few of your trusted employees. You’re sure to discover that delegating gets easier the more you separate your essential tasks from the ones you can let others control.
Tip #2: Think It Through
Before you task anyone with aspects of your work, you need to figure out what is appropriate for them to do. Start by writing up a list of all of your duties and then decide what’s crucial to you and what can be done by someone else. For the jobs that can be done by other employees, take the time to write out the procedure before you delegate.
Don’t micromanage. Expect that your employees will modify your outlines slightly as they figure out easier or more efficient ways, but consistently follow up to make sure that the work is being done with acceptable quality. It might not be exactly the way you want it, and it’s up to you to decide if the results they achieve by going their own way are compatible with your beliefs on how the job should be done. If you find that you’re micromanaging a little too much, take a step back, reflect on tip #1 and adjust your behavior accordingly.
Tip #3: Make Hiring a Priority
This tip is often easier said than done, unfortunately. Most of the time when you’re hiring, you need someone right away because a previous employee’s impending absence is going to create a hole in your company. However, you should do your best to think of hiring for the long term. Ask yourself if applicants have the skills to help you grow your business and take on additional tasks as necessary. Be methodical and impartial as you comb through candidates. Taking a little bit longer to find an employee with potential may save you significant time later on.
If you need help hiring, consider working with a respected staffing agency to help you find top talent that you can delegate to with confidence.
Tip #4. Train and Cross-Train
As you make preparations to delegate, be deliberate because, in the end, the results will always reflect back on you. Assign tasks to the most qualified individual, not the least busy one. Be careful, however, that you’re not overburdening exceptional employees because this can lead to high employee turnover rates.
As you’re training and cross-training, stay engaged and involved in the process to make sure that your employees are learning the right way and can perform the task correctly every time. Don’t cut them loose until you are confident that you’ve provided sufficiently documented processes, and they know their stuff – even if it takes longer than you’d like.
Stay involved during and after the training, and make sure that your employees know exactly how they fit into the company machine. Let them know what they are doing well and how they can improve, and ask for honest feedback on your training methods. You will most likely learn a lot about yourself during this teaching experience.
Tip #5. Be Patient
Remember, your employees are people with feelings and lives outside of the office, so be patient and encouraging. Training can be challenging for everyone involved, but if your employees understand how they are benefiting the company, they will be more willing to give 100%.
It may initially take employees longer to perform tasks than it would have taken you, but give it time. Eventually, many employers find that their staff members can do things with greater skill and efficiency than they could.
The goal isn’t to have employees. It’s to have a team.