Think about the past week. No matter what challenges you faced, there’s one thing that’s probably true. You handled somewhere close to a million things that could have or should have been handled by someone else. Those tasks, the ones that someone else can do, kept you from using your valuable time to grow your business.
Time is the one thing in business that can’t be recovered. Each minute, like each dollar, only spends one time. Like capital, if you need more you must look outside your organization to find it. While each day does only have 24 hours, there is a source you can look to for additional time. Your team is the resource you can leverage to gain the time you need. Effective delegation is the only way to increase your time resources.
Delegation is the assignment of authority for certain specific task related activities to another person. Don’t confuse delegation with task assignment. Delegation is much more than that. When you delegate effectively you give someone the authority and responsibility to do something outside of their normal sphere of influence. You transfer some of your authority to them and empower them to make decisions and act within that authority.
Let’s be clear about delegation. It’s not about giving up your authority. Ultimately you retain responsibility for the delegate task. It’s not about dumping unwanted work on a subordinate, either. It’s about giving a trusted team member the authority to act on your behalf independent of your control.
If the thought of delegation makes you nervous, you’ve hit upon the reason so many leaders struggle with it. You are responsible for the results but not in control of the process that leads to results. Goes against our normal drive for command and control, doesn’t it? Yet to succeed you have to move beyond micromanagement and think like an entrepreneur.
Thinking like an Entrepreneur
A successful entrepreneur knows the limits of one individual’s insight, creativity and energy. They’ve pushed those limits for themselves and realized they just can go it alone and succeed. For this reason, successful entrepreneurs look for talented team members they can rely on. People they can delegate to and not worry about the results. They give their team the power to excel.
How can you think like an entrepreneur? Surround yourself with people whose talents compliment your own, and then trust their abilities.
Steps of Effective Delegation
- Delegate the Work: Determine what tasks and projects keep you from leading, developing new ideas, and growing your business. A good rule of thumb is if someone else can do it, someone else should do it.
- Match the Person with the Job: Hopefully you hired a team with excellent skills. Look at your team and find the best person to take on each job. Don’t just look at availability. There’s no bigger time waster than delegating a task to someone who is incapable of getting it done correctly and on time. Look at past experience and performance and select the best person for the role.
- Describe the End Result: Take the time to explain in detail the outcome you are looking for. Don’t assume your team knows what you have in mind. Instead share your vision. Stick to outcomes and results and resist the urge to give them step by step instruction. You’re transferring your authority, remember? The how is up to them.
- Move On: Don’t worry and don’t babysit. Move on and give the team the freedom to get the work done. Demonstrate your trust by giving the team decision making authority within the scope of the project.
- Trust but Verify: Schedule regular update meetings or completion milestones. Giving them a scheduled system of accountability keeps them focused on the goal and allows you peace of mind. Make sure they know these “update meetings” are also a time when they can ask for guidance or discuss issues that may arise on the way.