5 Keys to Delegating Successfully As a Small Business Owner



Successful delegation in business is the elusive secret sauce of lasting business success and simply means that once the task or project has been delegated, you know that the work will be carried out and delivered to a high standard, within the agreed timescales with minimum input or guidance. Studies show successful delegation in business is a central ingredient of success.

As a small business owner, if you are able to employ even one or two people in the first few years of growth you are more likely to do well. Hiring helps share the load and makes you far more likely to succeed and survive than those who try to go alone.

Despite all the benefits small business owners stand to gain by sharing the workload with a team, quite a number, especially first-time business owners, find delegation an uneasy task. This is because small business owners want to do everything to get it right, and might not have the experience to avoid micromanaging tasks they have delegated to their workers.

The truth about successful delegation is that while delegation might not feel like it comes naturally, it isn’t a reasonable excuse that it should be avoided – especially if you’re a business owner that’s looking to grow your business. Delegation is just like any new skill, that can be learned, developed, practiced, and successfully implemented when we put in the time and energy.

if scaling is in your plans, building an effective team is absolutely essential. No matter how much you think you can go alone, there is only so far you can muscle along with your growth before you’ll run out of time, energy, and margin.

Here are 5 keys to successful delegation that will help take key tasks off your plate, and ultimately free up time to focus more on growing your business.

1. Start by Planning:

As with most things, the best way to start delegating is with careful planning. You want to identify very clearly what it is exactly that you want to delegate out, what ‘done’ looks like for that particular task, and who in your team would best be suited to complete that task for you.

You should take time to answer the following questions in your planning exercise:

• What are the things you don’t want to be doing?
• What are the things you no longer have time to do?
• What are the things that you’re actually not the best at doing?
• What skill set do you need for the task you have identified to delegate?
• What does that person need in order to complete the task?
• Is there some specific support that you could offer?

It is important to choose the right person for the task. You shouldn’t delegate work to someone just because they have the capacity to do it. Instead, you need to choose a person whose skill set is right for the task and is capable of doing the work without assistance. Availability is also an important factor to consider in your planning exercise.

2. Set clear Expectations:

Clarifying what successful completion of the task would look like by identifying the end result and the timeframe in which it needs to be completed is an important step in achieving your desired outcome. For tasks with a short turnaround, setting a specific end date and check in at least once before the task is due allows for effective monitoring for seamless delivery of the completed task. For longer-term projects, set a series of goals and establish a routine of check-ins spread out between the start and the due date.

3. Do not Micromanage:

Once you’ve delegated a task, step away. The only thing micromanaging does is add more work back onto your plate. It is frustrating for both you and the person you delegated to, and more often than not actually impedes progress and results. There’s a fine line between monitoring progress (as described above) and micromanaging. It is important to carefully evaluate your behavior to ensure you don’t cross the line between monitoring for progress and micromanaging.

4. Trust your Team:

Trust is a function of knowledge. It is best to get to know your team including their proficiencies and competencies. Once you’ve assigned a task to someone, grant them the authority to take full responsibility for the result. You have to trust that they will complete it correctly and on time. While there’s nothing wrong with monitoring for progress, doing that too often might breach trust. To avoid this, set a schedule of check-ins at the beginning of the project and try to deviate from it only if absolutely necessary.

5. Acknowledge and Recognize:

Delegation is only successful with accountability. The person responsible for the task needs to be held accountable for its timely completion, accuracy, and results. It’s important to touch base after a task’s completion to review the results. If there was a problem with the work, it’s that person’s responsibility (perhaps with your assistance) to make things right. A task well done should be recognized. Both recognition and critique after a task are equally important.

In conclusion, identifying and delegating important, time-consuming, regular tasks that you should NOT be carrying out as a small business owner will free up large amounts of time for you to innovate, or lead in other areas of growth. Once you have a reliable, support team in place (internal or external) that you can delegate to effectively, you will have mastered the art of successful delegation – the essence of being able to scale and grow.

If you have any questions about how to start delegating tasks or projects to a Virtual Assistant, please get in touch and we will happily talk you through how we can help.

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