While some leaders live by the old adage, “If you want something done right, do it yourself,” the most effective ones understand the value of proper delegation.
Delegating work can result in numerous benefits for business owners. In fact, it is considered one of the most important contributing factors to achieving real success. As bestselling author John C. Maxwell put it, “If you want to do a few small things right, do them yourself. If you want to do great things and make a big impact, learn to delegate.”
Why some leaders hesitate to delegate
There are business leaders and entrepreneurs who think twice about the idea of delegating because they’re used to doing work on their own. They even rationalize that teaching others could require too much time.
However, the highly authoritative Harvard Business Review emphasizes that great leadership can only be achieved by learning to delegate well.
The advantages of delegation
Those who know how to delegate well will tell you that the pros far outweigh the cons. Here are some convincing reasons why delegation is a skill worth mastering, especially for those who are running businesses:
1. It lightens your burden.
Entrepreneurs are sometimes so used to wearing many hats that they forget they can actually seek help from others. When you assign tasks to certain team members, you can decrease your workload significantly.
As a result, you avoid the pitfalls of doing too much. You can then free up your schedule and you’ll be able to focus your energies on the issues that most deserve your attention during working hours.
2. It helps you develop future leaders.
With delegation, you are providing your workers with room for growth. As they take on new tasks, they step outside their comfort zones, therefore expanding their knowledge and skillsets. This greatly benefits your business because you’ll have peace of mind, knowing your people are independent and capable enough to handle tasks on their own.
3. It increases efficiency and productivity.
When you and your employees are working well together, greater efficiency and productivity follows. You accomplish more things in your business than you could ever do when you rely solely on yourself.
4. It improves teamwork.
Delegation can boost your workers’ morale. It also encourages open communication. Once the task is done, it can likewise lead to members feeling valued for making meaningful contributions to the organization.
How to do delegation right
As a Medium.com article summed it up, delegation is what “separates great leaders from average leaders”. With that in mind, here are some things you need to be conscious of if you want to do it correctly:
1. Choose the right people.
First and foremost, you want to make sure that you delegate the task to the right person. This is crucial since knowing your employee’s skill, attitude, and experience will give you a clue whether the project at hand will be successfully completed or not. You want someone best suited for the job - or at least that they have the potential to perform it well.
In some cases, you may want to divide a big task among your team members so everyone gets the opportunity to contribute to the project, helping to bolster teamwork.
2. Provide instructions but allow freedom.
Former Microsoft executive Steven Sinofsky has taught, “When you delegate work to a member of the team, your job is to clearly frame success and describe the objectives.”
After assigning someone to a task, it is a leader’s duty to provide clear instructions. Expectations should be unambiguous so any potential confusion is avoided. Let them know exactly what you are trying to achieve and suggest ways that they can achieve it.
At the same time, it is important to allow the person to use their own initiative in the event that they encounter any obstacles along the way. You never know how your employee’s ideas and decision-making skills might surprise you when you give them the chance.
3. Set a deadline.
Next, set a reasonable deadline for the project. A fixed deadline is effective in encouraging people to fully focus and avoid procrastination. This will keep you and the entire group on track as you collaborate in achieving the goal by the specified date. You will know which projects to prioritize when deadlines are set for each of them.
4. Give guidance - but never micromanage.
That said, you also need to be ready to answer any questions your team members may have regarding the task at hand. Offer guidance as needed but at the same time show that you trust them enough to take the initiative.
Remember that most employees do not enjoy being micromanaged. Expert studies have often pointed out that excessive supervision could lead to stress, frustration, and distrust.
So the aim is really to let them realize you’re counting on them to get the task done and that you, as a mentor, are willing to provide further support.
5. Ask for a report.
Of course, the principle of reporting plays a big role in the whole process. Let the assigned team member know that you will set a specific day and time when you can meet to catch up and review the project’s progress. Ask them about how they feel about the work. Identify areas of improvement and talk about solutions to possible obstacles so you can hit the target before the deadline arrives.
6. Recognize excellent performance.
Don’t forget to praise every member involved once the goal is achieved. Celebrating your victories as a group, whether big or small, can keep your team motivated.
Likewise, it’s always a good idea to reward excellent performers so they know that their efforts haven’t gone unnoticed. Saying ‘thank you’ is great but tangible incentives such as gift cards, a spa package, or tickets to sporting events can be highly appreciated.
With constant practice, leaders can master delegation and use it as an effective tool towards building a stronger, more positive workplace culture. Small businesses can continue to grow as they implement effective delegation strategies in their operations and achieve their goals together.