There are many reasons you might be reluctant to delegate authority. Do any of these excuses sound familiar to you?
- I can do it better myself.
- No one else will do it right.
- I’m the only one qualified to do it.
- Everyone else already has enough to do.
- It’s faster to just do it myself.
While these may sound like good reasons on paper, they are probably inaccurate. The level of quality your staff is most likely capable of may not only surprise you, it will also save you time and spare you a great deal of stress.
Here are some tips to help you delegate more effectively:
- Find the right person. Once you’ve made the decision to delegate responsibility, your first task will be deciding whom to delegate it to. Does the person you have in mind possess the necessary skills and background knowledge? Is he or she a quick study? If your answer to these two questions is yes, brief the person on the task by defining exactly what he or she will be responsible for. Clarify objectives and decide on deadlines. Make sure that your delegates have the knowledge and skills to do the tasks asked of them. If you’re unable to find someone with the necessary knowledge and skills, consider training someone. In the long run it might still save you time.
- Encourage your delegate. Tell the person why you selected him or her. Offer a genuine compliment that indicates you recognize some ability or competence within them that makes that person right for the job. Then encourage your delegate to act independently and make his or her own decisions. There are often many ways to achieve an end result, and by telling them, “I’m only concerned with the final outcome, not the process involved,” you’re giving them the freedom to perform the task as they see fit.
- Don’t micromanage. Once you’ve assigned a task and carefully explained what needs to be done, step back and let the person do it. Refrain from micromanaging unless you can clearly see that things are headed in the wrong direction. If your delegate has a different way of doing things than you do, try to be flexible and open-minded about it. This builds trust, and trust builds confidence.
- Teach your employee to be a problem solver. When the person comes to you for help, resist the temptation to dive into the project as if were yours. Instead, point out possible solutions by offering advice and suggestions. Point out what the issues appear to be, and ask the delegate for her or her ideas on addressing them. Make it clear that you expect the employee to solve the problem on his or her own.
- Reward the effort. Public recognition for a job well done encourages similar future efforts. So if the person to whom you delegated responsibility does a fine job, let them know. Also, if the end result isn’t ideal but they put a lot of time and hard work into the task, let him or her know you appreciate the effort.
- Don’t expect perfection. Learning how to delegate responsibility can take a lot of practice and patience, no matter what task you’re delegating. To meet everyone’s expectations, it’s a good idea not to expect perfection. Instead, clearly establish a standard of quality and a reasonable time frame for achieving it. It might help you to think of delegating responsibility as a way of teaching skills, in addition to clearing out your inbox. But as you hand over responsibility, keep in mind that some mistakes are bound to be made.
Hiring the right personnel, training them well, and delegating responsibility wisely will all help your business to flourish. On the other hand, forever relying on your own ability and “expertise” is a recipe for burnout. Such behavior can also stifle business growth, and prevent you from developing the strength of your employees, who, after all, should be among your greatest assets.