Your business is your baby; you dreamed up the idea, willed it into existence, and have nurtured it along. You’ve done everything for this business. You know it inside and out.
And when the workload became too much, you finally broke down and hired your first employee. And then another. And maybe another. Pretty soon, you looked around and found yourself leading a team. Woo-hoo!
But for some strange reason, you’re still as busy as ever. You find yourself doing tasks yourself because you know exactly what needs to be done, or you don’t think you have time to train someone else and it’s faster to just do the task yourself, or you’ve developed an expectation that employees need to seek your opinion and approval even in areas that are not your expertise.
What’s going on?
You need to learn to let go… and delegate.
You’re only one person; chances are, you are better at some tasks than others—or you dislike some more than others. Or you’re good at everything, but there just are not enough hours in the day!
Delegating frees you up to spend focused time on the mission-critical tasks that can grow your business or simply on the tasks that you love and that steered you toward this particular business in the first place. And it provides the opportunity to offload the jobs you dislike or feel less competent at, moving them to the desk of a carefully hired employee whose strengths complement your weaknesses.
When you delegate key tasks to senior employees and coach them through learning those tasks, you enable them to grow into leadership roles as your company expands. At the same time, you are building up corporate memory and institutional knowledge and relieving some of the pressure of being the only person in the company who can do x or the only one who knows y.
Perhaps most importantly, delegating can make it possible to improve that all-important work-life balance.
If none of those arguments is convincing, how about this one: Gallup found that CEOs who excelled at delegating generated 33% more revenue than those who were poor delegators. They also created more new jobs in their companies. Learning to delegate is key to growing your business!
Learn to let go
If you cleverly hired an assistant or second-in-command who excels at the things you find mystifying or frustrating, congratulations! Deciding what to delegate will be easy. Actually letting go may prove more challenging.
And at some point, as your business grows, you may find that you need to share even tasks you love—and even the things you’re sure no one else could ever do the right way.
If you find yourself in either of these situations, you may need to give yourself a little encouragement. Telling yourself that you’re shaping the career of a rising star might help. Or convincing yourself that your organization needs multiple people who can take inventory or do payroll or design the holiday window display or … whatever.
You can also start small. Delegate small parts of larger tasks or processes, and work with the employee to slowly teach them to take on more and more responsibility. This is managing, mentoring, and growing your business, all rolled into a single process that also nurtures a valuable employee. Providing a growth path and investing in employees’ development are proven ways to keep employees engaged—and employed with you--rather than searching out more challenging work from a competitor.
5 tips for successful delegation
Delegating effectively is a lot like managing effectively. Many of the same skills are needed, including:
Enjoy the payoff…
After weeks or maybe months of investment, your delegation efforts will bear fruit. The employee will feel empowered by their success at learning and taking over an important or challenging new task or role. You can enjoy the feeling of being a successful leader and mentor, in addition to reveling in your new freedom to focus on other tasks. And in the long run, your willingness to nurture your employees will pay off in a successful, innovative business staffed by loyal, longtime, highly skilled employees.
You built that!