As an entrepreneur, delegation is an essential management and leadership skill. It obviously saves you time, helps you avoid burnout and allows you to work on more critical tasks. But often overlooked are the benefits it provides to others in your company. Effective delegation helps you develop, empower and motivate your team – a key to retention and employee satisfaction.
When you entrust others to take on important tasks or projects, you send a message that says, “I believe you can do this.” It gives employees a chance to learn new skills and builds their confidence. It also opens the door for them to take on additional responsibilities and contribute more to the success of the business. When used properly, delegation really is a great team building tool.
How to Delegate Better
- Engage People. If you pay people and tell them what to do, will things get done the way you want? Most of us realize it’s not that simple. Getting work done through others requires engagement and persuasion. Remember the Chinese proverb, “Tell me I’ll forget. Show me, I may remember. But involve me and I’ll understand.” Effective delegation requires a two-way conversation and works best when you get people engaged.
- Provide Clear Direction. Asking an employee to ‘take care of it’ is fine for routine tasks that they have done before. But taking on new tasks or projects requires direction and communication. Be specific and set clear expectations relating to goals, activities, and authority. A written procedure is a definite plus as it helps with the how-to and resources the individual may need to accomplish the work.
- Invest Time Now. In most cases, doing it yourself is faster than teaching someone else – the first time. But investing the time upfront to teach and motivate the employee will pay off down the road. The work gets done right and produces the desired outcome without your day-to-day involvement.
- Don’t Abdicate. Delegation is about giving responsibility and appropriate authority to others – not relinquishing all accountability. As the business owner, you can’t simply pass the buck and walk away. Provide guidance, get feedback, track results and hand out praise as appropriate.
- Start Small. If delegating is a challenge for you, start with less-urgent or non-critical tasks and projects. You will still need to provide direction and guidance, but it is less problematic when you eliminate tight deadlines. While the employee benefits from learning something new, you will see first-hand that others CAN do it just as well – if not better!
- Match Skills With People. In small businesses, employees often wear a lot of hats and may have skills outside their normal job responsibilities. Delegation allows you to tap into different talents or experiences and expand their skills through a team project. It’s also a good way to create a sense of belonging – a key to job satisfaction.
- Recognize and Reward. Delegating is easy when your people WANT to take on new challenges and work. If you want them to go the extra mile or step up and take on more responsibility, develop a reputation as someone who appreciates and recognizes good work! Pay increases, bonuses, and promotions are obvious ways to incentivize people. But rewards do not always need to be wage or salary based. A personal thank you note, special luncheon, recognition at a team meeting, gift cards or paid time off work too! Match the reward to the project or task – and always say thank you for a job well done.
Documented procedures make hiring and training people easier. But they also make delegation a lot more effective too! So don’t underestimate the value of systems when it comes to improving your delegation skills!
Related Article: How Your People and Systems Power Profit and Success
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