Delegation is scary. (Whisper Voice: It doesn’t have to be!) In my experience the entrepreneurs that I’ve worked with struggle with delegating work because it means having to let go. It means knowingly and willingly trusting that someone else can get the job done - exactly as you would. It’s also scary because it means that you can’t hide behind a wall of to-do’s that may or may not be the thing holding your business’ performance back. Crazy to think that you might be the biggest obstacle to your success isn’t it?!
For the record, it’s really hard to grow your business when you are focusing on growth and everything else in your business at the same time. This goes double for you if you are a self (or otherwise) proclaimed perfectionist. That means that getting good at delegating is critical if you plan on hitting the goals you set for yourself and your business.
The great thing is that delegation isn’t just for businesses that have lots of employees. It’s also not just a neat management trick for working in teams or getting your non-profit boards to get any real work done. Being able to prioritize and delegate is just as important to the solopreneur working from her kitchen table as it is to the CEO who’s charging her board with the goals for the next quarter. Before I can teach you how to be a better delegator I need to outline what kind of tasks/actions/responsibilities are best suited to be delegated.
Here’s the definitive list of things that can be delegated:
Everything that’s not a strength, that you’re not great at and/or that takes away from you driving your business forward.
End of list. Big list I know.
When you are trying to grow a business there are tons of things you need to be doing everyday. Some of that stuff is going to be fun and engaging and some of it is going to be repetitive and brain-numbing. The trick is finding a way to get everything done enough to keep you from burning out. Those things that you're responsible for only compound when you start adding variables like employees, contractors or even trying out new social media channels. Being able to delegate effectively will give you more time to focus on doing the important business growth stuff that you are best suited to do.
Here’s how to delegate. (This can even work if you are only delegating to a future you.)
Get specific. Get specific about desired outcomes, processes and resources you’d like to see utilized. This is not micro management! This is managing expectations. When you provide clear constraints and expectations you’re giving people permission to do their best work in a way that’s authentic to them - instead of guessing about what they think the outcomes are supposed to look like.
Get accountable. Accountability is a two way street when you are delegating. First, you should clearly identify the time frames and outcomes you’re expecting. Then you should make sure that you are also being held accountable with any resources, feedback or time that will help push the delegated tasks forward. There’s nothing worse than a breakdown in communication and accountability that leaves everyone involved a little frustrated and a little resentful towards you and the process.
Give authority. When you delegate something it’s important to make sure that who you delegate the task to has the authority to get it done. How can you expect someone’s best work when they feel like they have to be constantly checking in or asking for permission to make decisions or take creative liberties. Set up the constraints and give the appropriate authority to get the most out of your delegate-eys.
Those three things are the most important components to delegation. I’ve seen lots of entrepreneurs and business owners struggle with managing their employees and contractors because expectations weren’t managed, directions weren’t followed and projects weren’t completed. Spend a little time in the beginning, assume that no one knows what’s going on in your head but you, and in really good detail set the guidelines for what you’re delegating. You’ll be surprised with what comes back.