As a business owner, chances are, you typically wear a lot of hats. It can feel like you’re trying to do a million different things at once—and with so many tasks and responsibilities on your plate, it can be easy for things to fall through the cracks.
That’s where delegation comes in. Being able to effectively delegate to trusted members of your team is one of the most important management skills to develop as a business owner; it allows you to offload specific tasks to your team, which can free up your time to focus on growing your business. It also gives your team the ability to expand their skill set, learn new things, and get better at their job.
Or, in other words, it’s a win-win.
But how, exactly, do you delegate work to employees? What’s the best process to follow? And how can you ensure that your delegation process is an efficient and effective one—both for yourself and your employees?
Choose the right tasks to delegate
When it comes to delegating tasks, the tasks you choose to delegate will play a huge part in whether you get the desired outcome—or you just end up frustrating yourself and your team.
So, the first step to successful delegation? Choosing the right tasks to delegate.
Identifying the right tasks for delegation starts with looking at the tasks you’re currently managing yourself and figuring out which tasks actually need your involvement—and which can easily be managed by other members of your team.
For example, as a business owner, you would probably want to continue to manage important tasks like business strategy, meeting with your legal team, or interviewing new high-level employees (like a VP of Marketing). But do you really have to be the person posting on social media or answering customer emails? Probably not.
In addition to identifying tasks to delegate that you don’t need to be managing, you can also identify tasks to delegate to specific team members that might help support their career growth. For example, if you’re currently managing your marketing strategy and implementation—but have an employee who is interested in moving into a marketing management role—you might consider delegating some marketing-related tasks to them.
The point is, if you want to drive your desired results with delegation, the tasks you choose are important—so make sure you’re putting thought into which tasks you’re delegating.
Delegate tasks to the right team members
Choosing the right tasks is an important part of effective delegation—but so is delegating those tasks to the right people.
Not all tasks and responsibilities are created equal—and if you delegate responsibilities or tasks to someone that isn’t suited to tackle them, you’re not going to get the desired results.
For example, if you have administrative tasks to delegate, you’re going to want to delegate those tasks to someone who is organized—not an employee who constantly has papers scattered haphazardly all over their desk. If you have a technology-related task to delegate, you’re going to want to delegate it to one of your more tech-savvy employees—not the team member who is still getting up to speed on Word or Excel.
Before you start delegating, make sure you’re delegating tasks to the employees who are best equipped to manage those tasks—otherwise, you’re setting yourself up for disappointment (both for yourself and for your employee).
Use the right approach and delegate in the right way
You know what tasks you want to delegate. You know which employees you want to delegate those tasks to. The next step in the delegation process? Actually passing those tasks on to your team.
Of all the delegation skills you can master as an effective leader, how you actually delegate tasks to your employees is one of the most important. Your delivery will go a long way in how your delegation request is received, how your employee feels about the new task or responsibility, and how successful they’ll be in completing it.
For example, let’s say you have to delegate a somewhat tedious data entry project to one of your employees. If you send them an email with a quick description of what you want and sign off with “get this done by Friday,” it’s going to be received completely differently than if you sat down with your employee face-to-face, explained the project and why it’s important, and asked them if it’s something they feel comfortable taking on.
The point is, delegating isn’t about telling your employees to do something for you. It’s about giving them more responsibility and trusting them to take on more within your company. Your delivery when you delegate a task is what’s going to make them feel respected, valued, and appreciated (or not).
Trust your team to tackle their tasks
One of the hardest parts of delegating is letting go of control. If you’ve been managing a task or responsibility on your own, it can be hard to let it go.
But if you want delegation to enable you to get more done in your business—and encourage growth in your employees—letting go of that control and trusting your team to complete their tasks is a must.
When you delegate a task to one of your employees, you want to empower them with any information, training, or support necessary to successfully manage the task—and then you want to step back and give them the space to get it done. Micromanaging isn’t an effective management tool—and it’s not helpful to you, your employees, or your business.
Now, you don’t need to be completely hands off; if you’re delegating a task to someone for the first time or your employee needs to learn new skills in order to complete the task, scheduling a follow up to check in, see how they’re doing, and make sure they have enough time and resources to finish the delegated tasks is fine. You can even offer constructive criticism when it’s appropriate.
But the entire reason you’re delegating tasks is to get things off your plate and free up some of your time and energy to focus on more important issues in your business—and if you’re spending that time and energy hovering over your employees’ shoulders to make sure they’re doing their work correctly, it kind of defeats the point.
Delegate your way to success
Being able to effectively delegate to your team is part of being a great leader. And now that you know exactly how to delegate work to your employees, you’re armed with everything you need to delegate your way to success—success for yourself, success for your business, and success for your employees.