Free up Your Time: A Guide to Effective Delegation

Productivity

It’s not surprising that many entrepreneurs are perfectionists. After all, you want your business to work out just right and you want to implement your ideas just as you envision them.

Letting go and allowing others to help you complete tasks is particularly difficult, especially for business owners who are just starting out or managers who have a fixed perception of how things ought to be done.

However, trying to do everything on your own is a big timewaster—yes, you will be super busy, but you will likely be spending too much time on non-core business functions.

When I first opened my law firm start up in 2004 I simply didn’t delegate anything for a long time. It was my ‘baby’ and as such I needed to make sure everything was ‘right’. The problem was, as a lawyer I billed by the hour for my time . Yet, I was spending all my time performing tasks that could easily have been delegated. I lost a lot of money as a result of this, which could have been re-invested in the business to get it moving forward more quickly.

How about adopting ‘the lawyer approach’? In reality, it doesn’t matter whether you are officially a lawyer with billable hours or not. But you should look at your time in the same way as I should have. You could consider that each hour your spend on ‘non billable’ work is really an hour wasted.

What is billable work? Anything that directly results in you making money from that work and/or moves your business forward.

Here are practical steps to safely delegate work to your employees and save time without losing your authority:

Delegate based on your weak points

What’s really important to understand is that delegation is not about passing off work. It’s about getting a helping hand especially in those areas that you are not good at.

delFor example, if you lack the organizational expertise to do administration work, trying to juggle your other tasks with admin work can be a real time-suck.

Hiring someone to do the administrative tasks will free up a lot of your time, lower your stress level and allow you to focus on the important aspects of your business.

Freelance outsourcing platforms make it much easier to hire virtual assistants, tax experts and accounts to handle these administrative tasks. I’ve become very good at outsourcing and outsource anything admin related which allows me to focus on business progression.

Teach the skills instead of demanding or pestering

A great way to approach delegation is to look at it as a way of empowering your employees.  Giving them tasks to work on not only saves you time, it also allows them to develop their skills in a particular area.

When you delegate work, instruct your employees; if you have the expertise, teach them how to undertake the task and then allow them to do it.  Having trust in the person whom you have delegated the work to will give you peace of mind and will eliminate unnecessary tension in the workplace.

As you teach the skills, it is important to allow some space for mistakes. Realize that employees will make mistakes initially but this does not mean that you should never delegate work again.

Give the job to the right person

A major reason why managers and entrepreneurs fail at delegation is that they assign tasks to the wrong people. Even if you are just starting out, do not assign tasks to friends and relatives just to save costs. In a workplace setting, do not delegate work to an employee just because they are not busy.

A better approach is to assign tasks to people who have the expertise and skill to successfully complete the tasks.  Frankly, this is the only way to ensure that your work is done the way you had anticipated it to.

If you are delegating work just to ‘keep somebody busy’ then you need to examine that person’s job role and function and consider how that can be improved.

Give others both task and responsibility

It is not enough to simply delegate tasks. Your employees will feel more inclined to successfully complete a project if they have a sense of responsibility placed on them.

For example, instead of assigning a task to an employee and constantly checking up on them or pestering them, allow them to own the project and to apply their skills to complete the tasks.

Of course, the employee needs to report their progress to you but this should not be as a result of you pestering them to give you a report. In other words, allow your employee to propose ideas, apply their own skillset or approach and to carry on with the project without much interference from you. This way, they will feel responsible for the destiny of your company and in particular, for the outcomes of the project.

Agree on clear milestones

Milestones will let you know whether the employee is progressing well with the task or if anything needs to change. So, instead of worrying that you have to wait until the end of a project, you can easily check the progress without taking away responsibility from the employee.

It is also important to establish a specific start and end date to ensure that things are done on time. However, deadlines should be reasonable and agreed upon by everyone involved in completing the project.

How To Delegate

To delegate effectively, you must make peace with the fact that you are not the only one who can get the job done right. You can alleviate ‘start-up fatigue’ and feel energized about working on your business just by allowing others to help you grow the business. You’ll create a sense of camaraderie when you delegate well and as a result motivation will increase and performance will improve.

2 Comments

  1. Ah, that point about task and responsibility is very important. Don’t just tell someone to “do this”. Tell them to “do this” because “I want you to be responsibile for X”. It gives them empowerment but also gives them the responsibility to handle unforeseen issues or opportunities that come up.

    • Hi there, yes you are right there. The example you give is absolutely key. It’s so common in the workplace to just take that attitude (do this) and of course, it really doesn’t help either party. Delegation does get a bit of a hard time, but it really shouldn’t. It’s a great way to build a business and empower people at the same time. Thanks very much for the comment!

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