Why learn how to delegate tasks NOW?
Delegate tasks because…
You do best when you stick to your area of excellence, your unique ability.
It’s devastatingly easy for important details to slide right through the cracks.
You can only go so long before you’ve got to come up for air.
As an entrepreneur, you expected to grind long hours.
But here's the reality: no matter how hard you work, you still have only so many hours in a day. If your business is suffering because you don't have enough time to do everything, it's time to try something different.
Namely, it's time to delegate tasks.
In this article, we'll show you:
- What it means to use delegation in leadership
- How to delegate work to employees
- Examples of delegation in the workplace
- How delegating empowers your employees to rise to the challenge
Are you ready? Let's get started.
What Does it Mean to Delegate Tasks and Why Would You Delegate Tasks?
What is Proper Delegation?
Delegation in management is simple to understand. It means that the person in charge (you) assigns a specific task to an employee to complete.
What are the 3 Elements of Delegation?
There are three important parts of delegation:
- Assignment: The manager assigns an employee to execute a task.
- Authority: The employee receives the authority needed to complete the job.
- Accountability: The employee is accountable to the manager.
What Skills Make Delegation Work?
As you can see, the delegation of duties and responsibilities is more than handing off a task. There is an exchange of communication, authority, and accountability. The more you delegate tasks, the more you're developing these essential business skills:
- Effective communication (in-person or online)
- Developing employer-employee trust
- Cultivating a discerning eye when hiring talent
Deepening your understanding of delegation sharpens these skills. It also helps you make better decisions within your business.
Why Would You Want to Delegate Tasks?
Simply put, delegating helps you run a more effective and efficient business. You also get to reap the following benefits:
Free Up Your Time
Time is your most valuable asset. Feeling bogged down in administrative tasks or learning about something outside your expertise? That is valuable time potentially wasted.
As an entrepreneur, you are the business owner. Your time can be better spent on business development and cultivating your vision. Leave the busywork and specialized tasks to one of your employees or outsourcers. (Wondering how to manage a remote team?)
Create Space for Creativity
When your tasks and projects consume all your focus and energy, you live little room for creativity. Delegating frees up your valuable time. That creates space for your creative ideas to flow. You now have time to consult with experts, think deeply about your business, and consume resources that may inspire your next business move.
Develop Your Leadership Skills
Ready or not, you become a leader when you hire your first employee. That can be a little nerve-wracking. But here are the good news: leaders are made, not born.
Working on your delegation skills will help you build valuable leadership skips. Because effective delegating encourages:
- Clear communication
- Knowing your employees' strengths and weaknesses
- Fostering trust with your employees
- Understanding who is best for the task at hand
Boost Your Productivity
When you learn how to delegate tasks to increase your productivity, you're cultivating a team of loyal and skilled employees. When you give your employees more responsibility, they slowly build their skills and become more competent over time. Eventually, your employees will deliver superior results that will help you actualize your business goals.
Richard Branson, the founder of the Virgin Group, said, "People are your greatest asset, and you need to invest in them." Invest in your employees upfront, and they will reward you over the long-term.
Why Managers Fail to Delegate Tasks
Even with all the advantages of delegation, many business owners shy away from delegating. Why is that? Let's look at a couple of things some entrepreneurs tell themselves:
"Delegation is for lazy people."
Some entrepreneurs may think that those who delegate aren't managing their time well enough. If this is you, you might just tell yourself to suck it up and do it yourself.
The result? You start dropping all those balls you’re juggling, you're burned out, and you feel ashamed of coming up short.
Think about this: You only have so many hours in a day. For the tasks that fall out of your availability, it's worth delegating those to an employee. When you delegate effectively, things don't fall through the cracks, and your business slowly moves in the right direction.
"If you want it done right, do it yourself."
This thought is brimming with your perfectionist tendencies. Delegating tasks to somebody else could compromise quality. And if they mess up, it's YOU wasting time and resources fixing their mistake.
Why not avoid that messiness altogether, you tell yourself. You know what you want; you know how to do it. Why why not just do it yourself?
Think about this: Training and delegating, like anything else, has a learning curve. Mistakes are inevitable in the beginning. But if you have a robust training system in place, you can cultivate highly-skilled employees who save you time (and add to your bottom line).
"I need to feel in control."
One word: micro-manager.
You've probably worked for one in the past, and it's more often an awful experience. Managers who need to feel in control also let perfectionism guide their actions.
Delegation is about trust. When your employees know you trust them, they will often work to meet your expectations. Here's what Entrepreneur has to say about delegating tasks:
"Empower your workers to feel like they're making valuable contributions and are trusted to handle new responsibilities. Part of that empowerment means giving your workers access to the people, equipment, information, and materials they'll need to do a good job. As a result, they'll gain more self-confidence and will achieve more."
When your employees see that you trust them to get the job done, most will rise to meet (and exceed) your expectations.
"Delegating is a waste of time and resources."
It's understandable why many delegation-averse entrepreneurs might think this. There's tons of upfront work with delegation. You have to interview prospects, go through the hiring and training process, offer feedback, and more.
But hiring and delegating isn't just work. Delegating is an investment.
When you can delegate tasks to highly skilled employees that you hired and trained, you maximize efficiency. You free up your time and cultivate strong employer-employee relationships. Then your business model improves.
What Are The Four Phases Of Delegation?
Before you start assigning tasks to team members, it's essential to understand the 4 phases of delegating tasks. You can break the four phases into:
- Direct Instruction: You tell the employee exactly what to do and how to do it.
- Investigate and Propose: You describe your objective to an employee. They gather information, provide options, and propose the best path forward.
- Act and Report: You give an employee an objective. They take the necessary actions to meet that objective. The employee is still responsible for providing regular updates. But you are not actively involved in the day-to-day decisions.
- Complete Hand-Off: You give the employee total authority to complete an objective without needing to keep you updated.
As an employee goes through each phase, they gain more autonomy and decision-making power. Ideally, your role as the business owner is to bring employees from the first phase of the delegation to the last. When you have more employees in leadership positions calling the shots, you can eventually step back from your business and let it run on autopilot. That means more time and energy to pursue more work/life balance or another business venture!
How Do You Delegate Employees Tasks?
Enough with theory. Let's move onto the practical and actionable tips with delegation examples. Here are six steps for delegating and getting things done.
#1 Determine WHAT You Should Delegate
Before you can choose who is right for a task, you must first decide what that task is. It's useful to review all the tasks and projects within your business and cross-check them against these categories:
- Administrative: These tasks tend to be low-skill and often tedious to do. Administrative duties include scheduling meetings, screening emails, booking transportation, data entry. You'll find that many business owners hire assistants to handle this type of work.
- Time-Sensitive Projects: Sometimes, these types of projects have slim deadlines, and you simply can't handle all the work. When it's profit and client/customer relations on the line, you can't cram the night before the same way you would before a big exam. It helps to break down a big project into smaller chunks and see which tasks are worth delegating.
- Outside Your Skillset: When starting, you'll often wear multiple hats. One day, you're handling customer support, and the next, you're sending invoices. But sometimes, there are tasks too far outside your skillset. That's when it's worth hiring somebody with a specific skill set. For example, a graphic designer could better design your branding visuals if you have no design knowledge.
Once you have a list of tasks you can delegate, you can move on to the best candidates for getting the actual work done.
#2 Choose the Right Person for the Job
When delegating tasks, you must inventory your employees' strengths and weaknesses. Their capabilities and limitations will reveal who is best suited for a specific task. Here is a list of questions you'll want to ask yourself:
- Which employee has the right knowledge base and skillset?
- Does that employee have the right attitude?
- Do you have enough time and resources to train that employee?
- Does that employee work well in a group setting, or do they shine most in an independent role?
- What is that employee's current workload?
You received a nasty voicemail from an upset customer. Your customer service manager, however, is swamped with work. You then notice that Jane, a regular customer service rep, has received comments about her exceptional communication and problem-solving skills on her customer surveys. You decide that Jane is the best fit for this situation and delegate the task of assisting this customer to her.
#3 Give Clear Instructions
If you've started delegating, but notice that many of your employees are returning with multiple questions or missed the mark when completing a task, the issue may be on your end. Clarity is necessary for effective delegation. Without clear instructions, you leave room for your employees to make avoidable mistakes.
According to Entrepreneur, It's helpful to frame your task within the delegation triangle: "Think of delegation as a triangle, with the three points being who, what, and when. The delegation triangle can keep you on track and make delegating tasks easier."
To confirm for clarity, ask yourself:
- What is the task's objective?
- Who will you hold accountable for completing a task?
- When will the task be completed, and what milestones must they hit along the way?
You run an eBay store, and you notice a high return rate on your products under the reason: Item not as described. You decide you need to change something and delegate a project to your team:
- What: Improving the clarity of your product listings will potentially reduce the number of your returns. You will add more product details and photos, so customers know exactly what they are purchasing.
- Who: You assign this project to your customer service manager and marketing team. Your customer service manager is familiar with common customer complaints. This information will dictate what changes your marketing team will make with the listing updates.
- When: You want all listings whose products undergo frequent returns updated within two weeks.
#4 Offer Resources, Training, and Authority
You can't just assign a task to an employee and wash your hands of it. Resources and training are essential for helping your employees get the job done.
For basic administrative tasks, that could look like laying clear step-by-step instructions that leave little room for confusion. If you want to take specific employees and help them run various departments within your business, you might even want to offer one-on-one mentorship.
Giving your employees decision-making authority is also crucial for empowering them. They'll experience greater autonomy and creativity when doing their work. This will also create trust and build positive rapport between employer and employee.
#5 Learn How to Monitor Delegated Tasks
Effective delegation also means keeping tabs on the tasks you delegate. Even if you give an employee decision-making authority on a project, it's often prudent to monitor the project's progress to completion. This ensures that your employee is accountable to their deadlines.
There are several ways to monitor delegated tasks, including:
- Request progress reports from your employee (this can often be a simple memo or email).
- Use collaboration tools like Trello and Slack.
- Hold regular meetings to review the project's progress.
#6 Offer Constructive Feedback and Praise
Earlier, we mentioned that delegation skills will help you grow into a better business leader. Part of that growth is the feedback process.
Constructive feedback is essential to nurturing your employees' growth. It equips them with the resources they need to thrive. With the right feedback, you can help underperforming employees improve.
When giving feedback, it's critical that you're specific and not let a mistake blanket their entire performance. You should also praise your employees on what they did right, to help them feel more confident in their abilities.
You asked your assistant to create the presentation slides for the upcoming meeting. During the presentation, you noticed typos on a few slides. Instead of telling your assistant that the presentation did meet your expectations, you point out the specific slides and describe how the typos can be distracting. You also praise them for getting the slides completed promptly. Also, appreciate how they took the initiative to create charts and tables.
Note that feedback also goes both ways. You can ask your employee for feedback on how you can improve. Maybe they experienced confusion during the delegation process. That can prompt you to be clearer when delegating.
Your employees will appreciate it when you keep the dialogue open. Asking them questions and soliciting feedback lets your employees know you value their input.
Delegating is an Investment in the Future of Your Business
Remember the overwhelmed entrepreneur at the start of this article? That entrepreneur was waist-deep in projects and tasks. Things were falling through the cracks.
If that entrepreneur is you, it may be time to start delegating and regain control of your time and business. But be prepared. Delegating tasks is a lot of upfront work. You'll need to dedicate time and resources to hiring the right people and training them. The investment, however, will be worth it. With patience and dedication, you will build an incredibly competent team. They'll feel empowered, inspired, and ready to help you fulfill your vision.
You and your team can become a shining example of collaborative capitalism. Together, you can take ownership of a problem plaguing the community you serve, and providing solutions that make life better for everyone.
Building a team of employees and outsourcers helps make a business scalable. By entrusting the work of your business to the people best suited to do it well, you also set yourself free to do what YOU do best, too.
For most entrepreneurs, that’s starting and growing businesses. If that’s you, too, we’ve got something for you! Check out this free training series if you’re just starting out - or join us in The One Percent if you’re ready to up your game in our unique “give-only” community.