Delegation – not to be confused with tai-chi’ing, is a skill that every business owner needs to pick up. Delegation frees up your time to perform higher value tasks and gives your employees a chance to shoulder more responsibilities and improve themselves
Delegating is not easy, and like every other business skill, requires training. Many business owners and managers are afraid to delegate in fear of the task not being ‘perfectly’ completed. However, in many cases, perfection often means a familiar way (to the delegator) of how a task is completed
There are a three ground rules to observe before you delegate a task.
Firstly, you need to know exactly what needs to be done. Please do not confuse the ‘what’ that needs to be done with the ‘how’, dictating how a delegated task should be done will do more harm than good and demotivate the person that is being delegated to.
Secondly, you need to trust that your employees will do what is within their ability to complete the tasks. This includes not constantly interfering in the employees work process. Remember that nobody wants to perform at their worst, people always try to do the best within their knowledge and abilities.
Thirdly, your expectations of the delegated tasks needs to be communicated clearly and precisely. What you understand might be different that what your employees understand. Break down the requirements of the task as clearly as you can and get your employees to recap what they think you meant!
So when should you delegate a task?
When your new task can bring in more value than your current task
This is closely related to setting your priorities right. Take the example of a business owner answering business enquiries. He might be the best salesperson in the world and closes 7 out of 10 enquiries. Would it make more sense for him to keep doing what he do or delegate this task and focus on bringing in more enquiries? Two adequate employees closing 5 out of 10 enquiries products more results the aforementioned business owner
When a task can be completed at a 70% standard
If you think your employee can perform the task 70% as well as you can, you should delegate the task to him. Like I mentioned before, it’s normal for business owners to think that their employees are unable to complete a task in ‘perfection’. After all, a business owner knows the ins and outs better than anyone else and have access to the most information. However, the fact of the matter is that they might also be biassed towards the familiar way (to them) of how things are done. Most of the time, there is more than one way of getting a task done, and employees should be given the chance and freedom to use their methods to complete a task
If it’s a skill that an employee needs to learn
The more you do, the more you learn. If completing a task will improve a crucial skillset of your employee, he or she should be given the chance to complete the task. Sometimes, delegating will cause the company to take a small step back. This is often unbearable to business owners, but trust me, it is better for the company in the long run. My experience – I delegated answering facebook enquiries to an employee of mine that needs improvement in her tour package knowledge. From my observation, my company lost about 35 potential tour sign ups throughout the span of 2 months. Hard to bear, right? I sat her down a couple of times to brief her on the aspects that she could improve on, which she did. In our travel fair last week, she brought in more tour sign ups than what she has lost in the beginning
Even though delegation is important, you must remember to never ever delegate a task to your employee without giving them adequate support (without interfering and micro-managing) and access to information.
Finally, and the most important of all, do not delegate what you are not willing to do
What are your thoughts? I’d love to hear from you if you’ve faced any difficulties in delegating tasks!