Are you overwhelmed by your workload? Do you feel you’re letting people down? Are you finding it difficult to take on new work? Are you doing enough to develop your team and reporting staff? If so, it could be time to delegate some of your work to someone else. This is easier said than done. Many of us find delegation difficult at first. We convince ourselves that we have to do everything ourselves and that we are admitting defeat if we ask someone else to help.
Main Reasons We Don’t Delegate
Pride – to admit we haven’t time can make us feel inadequate.
Most of us feel this about our job or our business. No-one knows how hard we work but ourselves. We have a right to feel proud of what we do, but not to the point where it prevents us achieving our goals or moving forward. You can only spend so many hours working. Whether it is to deliver a project or to have a better work/ life balance, getting help is the next logical step.
Habit – this is the way you’ve always worked. You intend to change but you never get around to it.
Anthony Robbins says, ‘If you do what you’ve always done, you’ll get what you’ve always got(ten)’. It’s time to break the habit.
Lack of trust – you believe that no-one else will do the work as well as you, or they’ll do it better than you. You fear they may upset clients or suppliers with whom you have built a good relationship.
It is likely that, at first, the individual will not be as competent as you are until they have learned more and are used to the work. But their competence will increase. If they find a better way of doing a task, then this can only benefit yourself and the business. It could free up their time so that you can delegate more to them or feel confident in giving them more responsibility. Most people want to do a good job. If you make their responsibilities clear to them and share your company values, it is likely they will be an asset to your business.
Lack of funds and/or resources – if you are employed, you may not have access to other staff, or, if self-employed, you may need to bring a new person in, which will affect your profit margin.
If there is no spare money in the business, it can be very difficult to bring in someone new or free up a member of staff. Try brainstorming with colleagues or speak to your boss about what is possible. If you are self-employed, perhaps use someone on a ‘price per contract’ basis where you can give them work when you can afford it. There are many stay-at-home mums who would like to earn a bit of extra money. There may be someone you know who would be happy to help out.
It’s quicker and easier to do it yourself – it may take time to train someone. You may feel you have to tidy up your systems before allowing someone else to use them.
That may be true, but you need to free up your time. Either eliminate some of your tasks or delegate them. Once you’ve shown someone what to do, they will know what to do next time. If you are running your own business and it is growing and you try to be involved in everything, you will soon be constraining further growth.
Ask yourself the following questions.
Why do you want to delegate? Is it to take on more work, to grow the business, to get a promotion, or to achieve a better work/life balance?
What tasks should you delegate? There will be some tasks that can’t or shouldn’t be delegated. There may also be tasks that you love doing and don’t wish to delegate. You need to decide which these are.
To whom will you delegate? Match the right person to the right tasks. Is there someone available who has the required skills or do you need to advertise for someone? Do they have time in their work schedule? Is it in line with their goals and ambitions? Will it motivate them and help to develop their skills and knowledge?
Can you hit the deadlines? You may have to spend time showing the person what to do. As they are new to the tasks, they may work at a slower speed. Make sure you have time to review and even redo the work if necessary. What are the consequences of missing deadlines?
How to Delegate
Clarify the goal. Be clear about what you expect from the person and what the desired outcome is. Start at the end and explain why what they are doing is of value in relation to that desired outcome.
Establish Responsibility and Accountability. Make sure the person knows what their responsibilities are and what they are accountable for. When are they allowed to make decisions and when do they need to ask you? Don’t give them responsibility without giving them the authority. Responsibility and authority always have to match. The ultimate responsibility lies with you but they have to be accountable for their own part in the project.
Specify timelines and deadlines. These should be earlier than your deadlines to give you some time to review and edit. Establish progress review points so that you can make sure the project is on the right track.
Provide support and guidance. The person should feel confident in asking for your suggestions or advice. Keep the lines of communication open. It helps build relationships and mutual trust. Don’t try and micro-manage. The person will have their own way of working. Give them some flexibility in managing their workload. They may find better ways of working that will save you time and money. Wherever possible, focus on the outcome, not the method.
Give feedback and recognition. It is important to give credit where it is due and reward good work. It also helps build trust and commitment. You should feed back at different stages, not just right at the end. Remember that you are not obliged to accept shoddy work. Only accept good work. It may not be exactly how you would have done it but it still must reach a certain standard. Clear instructions at the start and timely progress reviews should ensure that the work is of good quality.
Create Opportunities. Effecting delegation isn’t just about dumping a task on someone. It is about developing the person in line with their goals and ambitions. It should increase their skill and knowledge and inspire and motivate them. This will create opportunities for them, both within the project and within their own career development. If you have a team of people, delegating the right tasks across the team can promote multi-skilling and flexibiility. This ensures that, if you are absent, the project doesn’t come to a halt.
Delegation is a skill. It requires trust, but successful delegation will bring many rewards. It will help you to expand your business, build a strong team, motivate and develop staff, allow you to prioritise your work more effectively, reduce stress, and give you a better work/life balance.