“From a young age, I learned to focus on the things I was good at and delegate to others what I was not good at. That’s how Virgin is run. Fantastic people throughout the Virgin Group run our businesses, allowing me to think creatively and strategically.” – Richard Branson
An entrepreneur’s success depends on his or her ability to delegate the right tasks to the right team member. A great leader never works alone. Delegation is not important for leadership only. Have you ever noticed that you’re doing more than you should on a daily basis?
According to the new Cornerstone OnDemand survey, almost 70% of full-time employees in the U.S. suffer from work overload. Entrepreneurs are also among them. In addition, they are overloaded with new information and technologies, which makes them more prone to stress and harms their productivity. That is why proper delegating skills are one of the most important skills any business owner should develop.
To help you do that, we have created a short list of the most important rules of reasonable delegation. It will help you get the general idea of the process and tell you about the most common issues that can come along.
Delegate or Die – Is It a Rule?
The delegate or die phrase has been misunderstood too many times. As an entrepreneur, you already have a full plate. The higher you rise, the more complex your responsibilities get. You’re focused on finding the right people to do the most important things just as well as you would do them.
However, let’s be realistic. You cannot delegate all tasks. There are the things a leader cannot and should not delegate, like:
- Rewarding and punishing employees
Punishing is not a popular term in leadership. Rewards are more effective. However, you still need a system that warns your employees that being late for work, not meeting deadlines, or braking safety procedures is wrong.
If you delegate the rewarding and punishing responsibilities, you’re giving too much power to some members of your team. That can cause a conflict. This is the task that you, as the leader, should take care of.
- Strategic Planning Tasks
You can ask for an input or advice from your team members, but you carry the final responsibility for strategic planning. No other employee has sufficient resources or power to cover that task.
- Unpleasant and Delicate Tasks
You cannot ask your subordinate to fire someone just because you don’t want to do it. Even if he or she has the power to do it, you set a precedent that shows you are a weak leader.
Know What to Delegate
This is the main rule to keep in mind: delegate the tasks that others can do as well as you, or for less money.
“It is logical that if you can’t write a good business report, you delegate that task to someone from your team or outsource it to a professional writer. However, even the leaders with great writing skills delegate writing tasks to professionals. It is cost-effective: one hour of the entrepreneur’s time always costs more than an hour writing of a freelance writer!” – says George Mitchells, CEO at CareersBooster.
Understand the Tasks You Delegate
That’s not the right attitude. You cannot delegate tasks you don’t fully understand. How will you measure the results? You have to know what’s effective and what’s not, so you’ll know how your resources are being used.
Get informed! Even if you plan to delegate a small task, you still need to understand what it is and what results it’s supposed to deliver.
Don’t Get Too Comfortable
When entrepreneurs decide to delegate, they may use it as an opportunity to make their own jobs more convenient. They will give away the tasks they find challenging or uninteresting to them. For example, a leader who finds logistics boring will hire a manager for logistics with the hope to forget all about that aspect of his or her job.
Delegation decisions should not be based on your preferences! They should be based on effectiveness. You must not delegate vital tasks to incompetent persons, no matter how challenging or boring you may find them.
Competence Comes First
A delegated task will be successfully completed only when you find the right person for it. Before making a decision, consider the competencies of a few candidates. Make an informed decision.
If you feel like no one from your team is good enough for the task but you still need to delegate it, consider outsourcing it to a remote worker or an agency in the relevant industry.
Don’t Be a Control Freak
When you find the right people for a particular task and you give them general instructions and expectations to meet, you’ll just have to trust them. Allow them to use their own methods and bring their own personality to the task. Express your trust and give them space.
Needless to say, you should still communicate with them. You have to ask for updates and make comments on their work. You should also be there to answer their questions and provide the support they need.
But Still, Have Control!
Although you need to leave some space for creativity, you must not transfer the entire responsibility for the task to the person you delegate it to. Have control! Do not accept work that doesn’t meet your standards and ask for the necessary improvements. The last thing you want is to forget all about that task and get unsatisfactory results when it’s too late to change something.
There’s a subtle science behind delegation. Even if you won’t get it right on the first try, the important thing is to keep practicing it. Consider the tips above and don’t forget: you must think about all aspects of your decisions before making them final.