5 Essential Delegation Strategies for the Small Business-Owner
People constantly ask me how I managed to rapidly grow 5 multimillion-dollar businesses from mere ideas into massive success stories. So, I give them the answer: by not doing all the work myself. When I tell people this, they look at me like I’m crazy; however, it’s the truth.
I delegate to people, in many cases those far smarter than I, to get the job done. As Ronald Reagan said, “Surround yourself with the best people you can find, delegate authority, and don't interfere.” Delegating allows you to accomplish more than you can when you work alone.
The response I inevitably get when I tell people that I delegate work is, “Oh, I tried that, but it didn’t work.” Some even say they believe the old adage, “if you want the job done right, do it yourself.”
You may not have had success delegating tasks to others, but be honest with yourself: whose fault is that? Delegation is merely a skill set; if you haven’t mastered it—or worse, if you haven’t even tried—chances are high that you won’t know how to do it well.
Think about it: did successful people like Richard Branson, Donald Trump, and Bill Gates do everything themselves? They’re surely hard-working, intelligent people, but they didn’t achieve massive success on their own. “No person will make a great business who wants to do it all himself or get all the credit,” said Andrew Carnegie, and I couldn’t agree more. You need to utilize the help that’s available to you, or you’ll never become a giant success story.
So how do you make delegating work for you?
When I work as a coach, I find many business owners are extremely resistant to delegating any of their tasks to others. I have to show them that trying to have control of every little aspect is, at best, limiting them and their business; at worst, going to cripple it. However, by following a few, simple tips, delegating can become a fantastic way to ensure that every task gets accomplished while you stay sane. I use these, and delegating has become one of my favorite ways to save time and energy so that I may always be 100% available to deal with the tasks that truly matter.
1) Utilize a project management application: My personal favorite is Asana, which is also free to use. When you use Asana, you can input tasks and assign them to anyone; I use it to manage those within my employ as well as remote workers and even people to whom I’ve outsourced tasks. Asana automatically emails the assignee updates when any changes are made, and allows both you and the assignee to mark tasks as ‘pending’ or ‘complete.’ Another great feature is the ability to make notes for yourself so that you remember to follow up with others; you can also utilize the capability to attach documents to tasks and/ or projects.
I always use Asana for every project I take on; I list every task that must be completed with due dates, assign tasks to the best person for the task, and look at the bigger picture of what’s left over to determine whether I need to hire more staff or outsource some of the work. When all that has been done, I assign myself the remaining tasks and get to work!
2) Match the person to the task: If someone on your team isn’t particularly detail-oriented, asking them to go through the entire year’s numbers to find a discrepancy isn’t the best idea. Instead, play to each person’s strengths, and delegate this task to someone who’s more analytical. As I’ve already discussed, Asanais a great place to assign tasks as well as keep track who has been assigned which tasks and when those assignments are due.
3) Define and communicate the task: I have seen countless people take less than a minute to describe a task when delegating, only to discover that the person to whom they delegated did the job wrong. Think of the time you take communicating the task as an investment: if you spend 20 minutes going over it to ensure it is done well, and it saves you a few days’ work, then it is well worth the time spent. When you finish explaining, have the person to whom you’re delegating repeat the task back to you, to ensure you’re both on the same page. When using Asana, you can write detailed notes for the assignee, and even assign them to explain the task back to you, so that you’re sure they’re on the same page.
4) Be prepared to answer questions: Even if you communicate the task with detailed clarity, questions may arise. Tell the person to whom you are delegating that you will be available to answer those questions, and make sure to tell them when and how best to do so. Also, make sure you give them enough time to grow familiar with the task and formulate questions; too tight a deadline will lessen the chances that you will get work that is correct and of the quality you require. On Asana, there is a ‘comment’ feature, which can be a great place for quick questions and clear up small misunderstandings.
5) Show your appreciation: Feedback shouldn’t only be used to address performance issues; let the person to whom you delegate know that their effort is appreciated. Congratulate them for good work, and they are far more likely to want to help you in the future.
Delegating is a valuable method of freeing up your time so that you may focus on your core responsibilities, and the overall success of your business. Follow these steps and you’ll achieve the necessary outcomes without burning yourself out. Prepare for delegation to become your secret weapon for achieving massive success.
L&MB Magazine 6 - Q2, 2016
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