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Self-reliance and dedication are important characteristics in any entrepreneur, but learning how to rely on others in your business is essential.
Delegating tasks gives you time to think about the big picture while others deal with those nitty-gritty tasks that take up valuable time.
Once you’ve mastered the art of delegation, your business will reap the benefits.
Time and performance management advantages
Business owners are often reluctant to delegate. Some are scared of relinquishing control, while others believe the only way to get a major job done properly is to do it themselves.
It is often quicker to do the job yourself than to invest time training someone else to take over the task. However, you will also start to see real performance benefits once the person is able to do the task with little or no supervision.
If your previous attempts at delegation have left you thinking it’s more efficient to do the job yourself, you might need to review how you go about delegating tasks. Are you rushing through handing over the task because you are under pressure? Are your instructions clear and detailed enough? Were you available to answer any questions?
Planning to delegate
In some businesses, delegation happens only when employees volunteer to take over a task. Delegation also often only happens in crisis mode – when something has to be done and your attention is urgently required elsewhere. Then, the nearest or most responsible employee is cornered and asked to step in.
However, it’s better to plan tasks to delegate and identify the best person to do each job. There are a few questions you should ask yourself before delegating any particular function.
- Is it a recurring task that will occur again in the future? In the long term, will you be able to reap the benefits of training someone else to do it?
- Does someone have the necessary skills or access to the information they’d need to do the task? Is this a function that someone else can do, or do you need to do this yourself?
- Do you have the time to delegate the task effectively? You’ll need to provide clear instructions, adequate training, answer questions and check progress.
Use the employee notes section in MYOB Essentials to record recurring tasks you delegate each staff member – that way you can keep an easy-to-access record online.
To delegate effectively, you always need to give clear instructions. If you need your staff to follow a specific procedure, you’ll need to provide step-by-step, detailed guidance.
If the procedure is not that critical, then you’ll at least need to give a concise but detailed brief, outlining the desired result.
The way you have completed tasks in the past might not be the only way to achieve the desired outcome. Where possible, try to give people the latitude to find the best system to implement for your business. People who are closest to the work often have a better understanding of what goes on in their area of work.
Establish a system of time management by providing clear timelines and deadlines, and detailing when you’d like progress reports or feedback. Make sure you are approachable and available to answer questions, and build in a safety net of a few days to allow you to review the work and make adjustments as necessary.
It’s also important to motivate your employees to do a delegated task well. An effective way to do this is to explain how success in the task could lead to financial rewards, recognition and future opportunities for growth within the company.
Consider leadership training if you think you could improve your communication with staff.
Improving time and performance management
Delegating a task doesn’t mean you lose responsibility. You‘ll need to schedule time for periodic or milestone check-ins with the person to ensure the work will be completed as required and by the deadline.
Be careful not to micro-manage a task, but do make sure you are interested in the progress made, and available to answer questions and give feedback.
It can be a delicate balancing act to show the right combination of interest and support while allowing your employees enough space to use their own initiative and take ownership of a task.
When work is delivered, take time to review it thoroughly and remember to give recognition for good work.
Don’t forget, some tasks don’t need to be delegated if they can be automated.