Your Business

3 Smart Steps to Be a Better Delegator

By Rieva Lesonsky

When Gallup studied 3,500 businesses to discover how managers create high-performance cultures, the research showed employees empowered with authority and accountability were more likely to recognize and respond to changing information, help develop innovative ideas to stay ahead of the competition and connect better with customers. How do you build this type of awesome, connected company? You delegate.

You might think being hands-on in every part of your business is best for your company’s growth, but the truth is the secret to scaling is letting go and focusing on the parts of the business you do best. The more you delegate, the more comfortable you’ll get doing it.

Here are the steps to smart delegation:

  1. Write it down. Identify all the tasks involved in the daily operation of your business. Then estimate how much time each task takes. Next, choose a value for the tasks, based on the importance each task has for the profitability of your business. You’ll notice there are certain tasks you need to spend time on and those you know you can have someone else handle. For example, while you might be the face of the business and need to be involved in sales, you don’t need to make the customer appointments.
  2. Think about the who. If you don’t have employees and aren’t ready to hire, you’ll likely need to outsource some tasks such as website maintenance and/or SEO. If you do have a staff (either part-time or fulltime), talk to your employees about where they see their jobs headed. Some employees may be interested or have expertise in the area you want to delegate. Or consider hiring college students, either part-time or as interns. Perhaps some family members are interested in learning the business.
  3. Develop a plan. Delegation is more than throwing the dirty work to an employee or independent contractor without some explanation and instruction. Discuss how the task fits in with the whole picture of the business and what tools are available to do the job right. Let them know you’ll be checking in from time to time to make sure everything is going smoothly—but do not micromanage them. Make sure you’re available for questions and be patient. Most of all, give the person the freedom to develop his or her own way of getting something done. Once you start delegating, and your staff is comfortable with their new duties, cross-train your employees so you don’t fall back on bad habits when someone goes on vacation, is sick or leaves for another job.

Delegation helps employees develop skills, confidence and loyalty. And perhaps most important, it builds company morale. What could be a better high-performance culture-builder than that?

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