When looking to grow and scale their business, one of the biggest and most common challenges for entrepreneurs is the delegation of primary tasks and lower-level duties to their teams.
Trying to grow a business single-handedly is an impossible job. To avoid getting bogged down by a million different tasks that will inevitably drain your energy and prevent you from achieving your business goals, it’s essential to master the art of the delegation.
Too many businesses fail in their infancy. Sometimes it’s simply because the entrepreneur didn’t leverage other people’s skills and input, thus freeing their time to concentrate on the objectives that truly matter.
Building a team is one thing; maximising their contribution is another.
This also isn’t exclusive to entrepreneurs: all business leaders, managers and supervisors can benefit from developing mastery in delegation.
By developing the key principles that are used by all great leaders in order to delegate effectively, you will win business success.
So, in this article, I will be sharing 5 top tips for becoming a champion delegator.
1. Release Control
This is the one thing that many entrepreneurs struggle with. There is no place for control freaks in successful leadership.
Letting go of control and allowing others to take on some of my responsibilities was definitely one of the hardest things I had to learn, as an entrepreneur.
But as I grew and developed, I realised that, in fact, the aim of any successful entrepreneur or manager should be to make themselves redundant.
What do I mean by this?
Great leadership is not about dictating every movement of your team.
On the contrary.
it’s about developing your team to the point that you are no longer needed.
Your aim should be to train and develop your employees so that the business runs better without you having to be there.
This should be your goal!
Your teams should have the initiative and knowledge to run the company as well you would – if not better.
It’s about leaning on your teams for their creativity, skills, knowledge and experience, trusting in them to fulfil their responsibilities.
But first, it’s crucial that you let go of the need to be involved in all aspects of your business.
In order for your teams and business to grow, you first must release the reins.
2. Quantify your Value
The next step is to establish which tasks and duties you should delegate to your teams and which responsibilities you should retain.
First, quantify your value. Calculate your contribution to the business in monetary terms.
E.g., if your contribution brings £10k into the business each month, break that down into an hourly amount – e.g., £71 ph.
That’s your worth.
You should not be spending time on tasks that fall under that hourly figure.
From this, you can then gauge which duties and responsibilities are worth your time and which aren’t.
It’s a great way to identify what you should be focusing your energy on.
And more importantly, which tasks you should be delegating out to your teams.
E.g., is your time better spent on accounts, managing clients or seeking new opportunities? Who is better placed to do any of these – for less cost?
This is also a great way to prioritise tasks.
You begin to look at what you must do – based on the cost-value, as opposed to how easy a task is, or the need to feel busy.
Adopting this approach helps you to recognise where your attention needs to be – and to focus on that, freed from lesser tasks.
3. Document Everything
To ensure that you always get a consistent outcome, it is valuable to document how each task, job or responsibility should be carried out.
If there is a particular procedure or just a way that you like things to be done, documenting that process and keeping it within a central folder accessible to your employees makes the delegation of tasks so much easier.
A step-by-step action guide that takes employees through the process mitigates the chances of things going wrong, ensures that people know what to do, and gives you added peace of mind.
Some of the world’s most successful companies flourish using this principle.
McDonald’s and similar franchise companies are modelled on the effectiveness of their processes, guaranteeing that the experience will generally be the same, irrespective of whichever McDonalds in the world you visit.
A year ago, my reason for documenting everything would have been solely in relation to the processes and procedures within your business.
However, I now see the importance of going beyond just processes and action steps by documenting everything – values, vision, ideas, etc.
Entrepreneurs should also be sharing their insights, expertise, challenges, and generally, their journey.
I explain the importance of doing so in a previous article I wrote: Why Business Leaders Need to Blog
Being able to share your experiences first-hand, either through a blog or vlog, will undoubtedly inspire your teams and provide them with developmental material that enables them to grow.
Your wisdom and insights will better equip your employees to take on more responsibility and higher ticket tasks that will grant you more freedom to do what you do best.
4. Have Trust
First – if you think you can’t trust your employees to do the work, should they really be in your business?
Of course, there will always be individuals who have limited capability in certain areas, but this should not be the narrative for your whole team.
The best way to truly empower your team, building their confidence and self-belief is to increase their responsibility.
I have seen, first-hand, how underperforming employees can be miraculously turned around by being given the opportunity to prove themselves.
Like teenagers in a school setting, bored and disengaged employees can become difficult to manage or disruptive.
There is a saying that an unoccupied mind is the devil’s playground, so giving someone more responsibility can actually help them by giving them something to focus on rather than the monotony of their daily role.
Now, what I have to say next may be uncomfortable for many of you but…you also have to be prepared to give your team and individuals the space to fuck up!
Mistakes are an important part of growth – they are where some of the biggest lessons are learnt.
Of course, don’t give high-risk tasks to employees if they clearly are not capable, especially if failure in the task risks your hard work, reputation or client relationships.
Instead, build up your employees’ responsibilities gradually. And when mistakes do happen – which they inevitable will – support your employees rather than reprimand them.
Reflect with them on what happened and what might have prevented the error.
If employees are scared to mess up because they fear a ‘bollocking’ – imagine what is likely to happen.
So, allow them the space to mess up but give them the opportunity to correct their mistake or guide them through it.
5. Be clear and precise
One of the biggest reasons for failure when delegating tasks is the lack of clarity on what needs to be done.
Give the correct information needed to do the job correctly.
Some entrepreneurs make the common mistake of presuming that the employee is clear about their task, when in reality there are 2 totally different perspectives on what is required.
Communication is the bloodline of any business; so, in order to effectively delegate, be sure that what you communicate is clear and fully understood.
Once given instruction, ask them to the confirm what they will do.
Some employees hide behind the excuse that they were unsure, or they have carried out what they believe the instruction to have been.
So, to remove any doubt, ensure there is a paper or email trail that employees can revert to if they are unsure.
This will massively reduce misunderstanding!
Don’t be vague or ambiguous in your language.
Make sure there is total clarity on your expectations and always set deadlines – otherwise you are likely to find yourself chasing your teams for weeks.
Make sure they know when the tasks delegated are to be delivered and how you want it to be delivered.
If you have given multiple tasks, its not the best use of time if your employees report back after completion of each task.
Set a time for them to report on their progress in all the tasks you have set.
And there we have it – my top tips for effective delegation – as tried and tested by elite leaders.
In short: relinquish the need to control everything in order to delegate well.
Know your own worth – per hour – and invest your time in higher-value tasks that will bring the greatest profits, while you delegate the other tasks.
Ensure that your preferred or agreed procedures are known and used by relevant staff.
Entrust your staff with greater responsibility, and finally – give clear instructions and state your expectations to remove all doubt.
So many entrepreneurs hinder their progress by trying to be everything to everyone.
Truly, there are just a few things that you need to be doing very well, in order to see your business grow and flourish.
So, devote your time to those – and delegate the rest.