Here’s how you can be more productive in your work by delegating the workload.
Most business owners are stretched for time and would love some extra time to get more done each day. Staying on top of the day-to-day work is essential in business but it can be all-consuming. What about all the other work that needs to be done to develop the business and stay competitive?
The owner or manager of the business needs to step back occasionally and consider the business from a high level so that strategic decisions and plans can be made.
Delegation is essential
But how can the business owner find that kind of time? Delegation is a way to achieve this. It is an essential leadership skill. But there are other benefits to be gained too. Delegating some of your work allows you to develop your team. You provide them with an opportunity to expand their experience, their skills and their knowledge. And that can be a motivating factor for employees and a way to increase their engagement as they see a development path within your business.
Delegation can be difficult
So why don’t we delegate all the time? Why do people avoid it? It is often avoided because if not done correctly it can be a hard thing to do. It can easily go wrong and lead to frustration on both sides.
Firstly, it can be hard to let go of the work you have been doing for years. It can be hard to trust others to do things “as well as you do”.
Secondly, delegating tasks can initially slow things down as 1) you need time to sit and explain the tasks and 2) the team can take longer to complete the tasks while they get up to speed.
Five tips to successful delegation
Here are five ways to master the skill of delegation so that you and your team can benefit from the experience without losing time or productivity.
- Match the task to the person
Pick the right task for the right member of your team. Consider their current knowledge and skill level. Don’t overwhelm them with a task that may be too difficult. Break difficult tasks down into stages and progress one stage at a time.
Consider people’s preferences: are they more creative or analytical? If you have the flexibility, ask the people to work on the tasks that will motivate them best.
- Provide clear guidance
It is important to communicate the essential information required to complete a piece of work. Remember the steps involved may be obvious to you but not to others who are new to the task. Break the instructions down into steps, describing the process flow from the start of the task to completion.
By doing this you are starting to document your key business processes. It can be motivating to ask the person learning the task to develop the work instruction themselves as they learn.
- Let it go
Once you have provided instruction, demonstration or training it is important to give the person space to do the work on their own. Be available for questions but don’t let this become a dependency. Encourage the person to try to work things out themselves before asking you.
- Check-in frequently
As you encourage independence you want to keep an eye on progress and quality by checking-in frequently. This is essential so you can make sure that 1) the work is being done correctly and 2) that the person is not stuck and reluctant to ask questions.
Frequent check-ins allow you to fix errors before they become a risk to the business.
- Give praise and redirection
Finally, it is important to praise the person so that they are motivated to keep developing and learning. But it is also important to be honest if things are not being done well. Discuss what further training or support is needed. Build on their good performance by stretching them further with the next task you delegate. View the learning as a process, each step or new task builds on the progress previously made.
Look for opportunities to give recognition for a job well done. Bring the team member to a client meeting or make sure their name goes on a report. This is a simple, low-cost gesture that can strengthen the trust levels between you and your team.
Pitfalls to avoid
With these five tips, you can delegate some of your tasks with confidence. If it doesn’t work at first, stop and ask yourself, what can I do better next time?
Here are some things to avoid:
- Don’t expect perfection straight away.
- Don’t expect the job to be done exactly as you do it.
- Be open to alternative ideas.
- If things don’t go well, resist the temptation to take back the task and do it yourself.
Delegation for growth
Delegating is an essential skill that is fundamental to the growth of your business. Mastering this skill helps you grow as a leader.
It helps you identify and standardise your key business processes and this helps with training, quality control and continuous improvement. Delegation also helps minimise business risk as you spread the workload and knowledge amongst your team, so the business is not solely dependent on you.
Be productive in teams
Written by Moira Dunne
Published on 15 August, 2019
Photo by Helloquence on Unsplash