Somewhere along the way in my career, I picked up a good nugget of advice, and it was to focus as a leader on those tasks which were unique to me and delegate the rest. One of the toughest things about being a leader and manager is mastering that ability. It’s not easy for a variety of reasons, including the idea that only you can do something better and faster, impatience, or lack of awareness.
Unfortunately, there are many managers out there who have not developed enough to follow the advice of focusing on what is unique to your position. And, if you’re an entrepreneur, there’s a higher chance that you could be someone who might have a hard time delegating. In start-up situations, many entrepreneurs end up wearing many hats, and it becomes difficult to let go, but it is crucial to the ultimate success of your business.
As your company begins to take off and grow, one of the most important skills you can master is to learn how to delegate.
- Think about those responsibilities that are unique to your position.As a leader and manager, one of the first activities you should do is to carefully consider all of the tasks that you do on a given day. Then, ask yourself if you should be the person doing it. When you go through this exercise, it will help you prioritize the issues you should be taking care of and will ultimately have more time to focus on doing.
- Consider the dollars and cents.Once you’ve decided to delegate, you will open up more time that was spent doing the busy work. Like most people, you probably think in terms of dollars and cents or profit margins. Hiring someone, even part-time, that will take over a lot of the process work that you’re doing is going to free up your time to dedicate it to the areas that will grow your business.
- Don’t fall into the micro-management trap. Micro-managers love to say that they are delegating their non-essential responsibilities, only to micro-manage their teams. Proper delegation does not mean that you are absolving yourself of any of the accountability for the work. Delegation just says that you are giving the responsibility to someone else, and you have to give them the opportunity to do the job and rise to the occasion.
- Maintain a strong feedback flow with your team. When you’ve delegated responsibilities to your team members, an essential aspect of proper delegation means keeping an adequate communication channel open for any questions, comments or concerns. Again, it doesn’t mean that it’s a chance for you to micro-manage a one-way feed system. It’s a two-way feedback flow and an easy tactic to ensure it’s done correctly is to request regular updates on the work.
- Make sure that you provide clear directives or instructions. When you’ve decided to create a productive delegation system, one of the essential aspects of delegation is to deliver clear instructions or direction from the outset. If you’re expecting a certain project to look a certain way, have elements you deem important or are looking for a specific outcome, it’s vital that you express those thoughts from the outset.
- Remember that your team members are learning how to do something you’ve delegated, and learning is not a linear process. Be prepared for mistakes or a learning curve. You should also expect to be pleasantly surprised when someone has done something in a way you wouldn’t have thought but is still excellent. Learning is not linear, and as a manager, you have to be prepared for some bumps and pleasant surprises on the road.
- Let it go.The final aspect of mastering the art of delegation is to stay out of the way and let go. When you’ve assigned responsibilities and informed your team members what they need to get done, then you have to allow them to do the work. Focus on the duties you should be focusing on as a leader and let your team do what they have to do to meet your goals for success.
Remember that delegation is not something that often comes naturally, especially if you’re a business owner and you’re looking to get a new company off the ground. However, whether you work in an established firm or start-up, understanding how to be a self-aware manager who delegates is going to reap many rewards. It will help empower your team, and it will give you the ability to truly focus and concentrate on the aspects of the job that crucially need your undivided attention.