Just about every entrepreneur knows that being a “business owner” means, effectively, working multiple jobs. This can be a challenge when first starting out – after all, you struck out on your own to chase your passion, not to play the part of an accountant or advertising agency, but your dedication to your business meant that you were willing to take these responsibilities head-on.
However, as your business grows and your schedule becomes more cluttered, you simply won’t have the time to do everything yourself. Eventually, the time you spend making appointments with your clients or negotiating with your vendors will get in the way of your primary duties and, as a result, cut into your revenue stream. Eventually, you’ll need to start delegating for the good of your business and your own sanity.
In layperson’s terms, delegating means assigning a task to one of your employees. Unfortunately, that can be easier said than done!
1. Letting Go
The desire to micromanage can be overwhelming. It doesn’t necessarily make you a control freak; it’s your business and you simply want things done the right way. But this impulse can be destructive and must be overcome if you are to delegate effectively. Micromanaging your employees not only breeds distrust but invites undue stress on yourself as well.
Asking for help can be hard. It can also be hard to watch someone taking on a task that you are sure that you could do in half the time. Take a deep breath, be patient, and let go. Just as your employee is learning new skills, you’re learning how to delegate, too. It can help to start with delegating smaller, less “essential” activities. Once you’re more comfortable and have a better idea of which employees you can trust, delegating more complicated tasks will be much easier.
2. Time Management
One major component to effective delegation is time management. Only by understanding how your time is spent can you know how to rework things in the most efficient way. For example, if a lawyer realizes that a third of his time is spent on unbillable work, that means that a third of his time isn’t going towards the duties that actually earn the firm money. This unbillable work could likely be passed on to a paralegal or other assistant so that the lawyer can focus on the work that only he or she can do.
3. Employing the Right People
Effective delegation requires competent employees that you can trust to do what is assigned to them. When interviewing potential employees, make sure to evaluate for their ability to handle unfamiliar situations in addition to looking at their work experience and education. However, it’s not just their history that matters – you’ll want to try and gauge their potential, too. While you might not have a bookkeeper on staff, that college student with a passion for mathematics could still help you crunch the numbers with a little guidance.
Seriously. No matter how minor the process or how seemingly inconsequential the information, you need to document everything about your business. For instance, having well documented step-by-step instructions for the processes that keep your profits coming and your business running smoothly not only provide a helpful resource for new hires and forgetful employees but saves you all the time that would be spent waiting for instructions or for questions to be answered.
5. Provide the Necessary Tools for Success
As the business owner, delegating is going to require a little more from you than just barking out orders. You need to be able to explain with great specificity just what it is that you want to be accomplished, what sort of timeframe it should be done in, and how your employee should go about making that happen. You should also make sure that you’re calling on the appropriate people for the appropriate tasks.
Delegating a task to an employee who isn’t equipped to handle it will result in frustration for all involved. After all, you can’t expect a fish to excel at climbing trees. Think about the tools and information needed to get the job done. If you don’t provide the necessary ingredients for success, then you shouldn’t be surprised by failure.
It’s the 21st century. If you aren’t using technology to maximize your business, then you are painfully behind the curve. Time tracking apps and project management software can help keep employees accountable and help everyone stay on top of their workflow. This way, everybody’s responsibilities are clear and there’s less of a risk that something can fall through the proverbial cracks. Personally, we recommend monday.com for its ease-of-use and endless versatility.
Communication is another critical field that can be made smoother by things like email, teleconferencing, and instant messaging systems. You might also want to consider a digital “drop box” to help store and manage your important files and documents in a centralized, consolidated manner.
7. Empowering Your Employees Through Ownership
There’s a lot to be gained by empowering your employees. When you give someone complete control over an assignment, it emphasizes your confidence and trust in their abilities and helps them develop both as a person and as an employee. Allowing them to handle things from start to finish gives them more ownership over their work, too, and increases accountability. This also frees up the time that you have to focus on what really matters instead of sitting over their shoulder and playing the “back seat driver.”
8. Give Your Employees Feedback, NOT a Tongue Lashing
If the only time you give feedback to your employees is when they make a mistake, then you’re doing it wrong. Doing so will only destroy their morale and make them resent you. It is imperative that you give genuine, detailed praise for a job well done. Positive reinforcement can go a long way. When your employees do make mistakes, try to offer constructive criticism and encouragement instead of vitriolic reprimands. Being open, honest, and generally reasonable with your employees encourages them to do the same with you. This mutual communication and respect is critical to maintaining the employer-employee relationship and to effectively delegating as well.
Looking to start a business or grow your current business? Contact FL Patel Law today by visiting our website, www.FLPatelLaw.com, or calling 727-279-5037.
Tyler Thompson is a second generation St. Petersburgian with a passion for reading and writing. In 2018 he finally made his way to FL Patel Law PLLC where he has found a home for himself as Project Manager. He is an unapologetic dog person who enjoys spending what free time he has with his friends and family.
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