How often do you become frustrated at the number of to-do’s on your calendar and the lack of time? Business has become faster than ever, and it’s even more demanding if you are an entrepreneur and trying to grow a small company. Delegation is something that often gets overlooked, as we often forget about the resources we have at our disposal and try to take everything on ourselves.
One of the most common roadblocks to successful delegation is that it requires up-front time. You often have to explain a project to everyone and go through the details while you are thinking in the back of your mind, I could just do all of this myself. However, we’ve all worked with for supervisors that do just that, and we recognize that their ability to empower others is limited. Doing things alone almost always takes more time, and just like any investment, if you put the time in up front, the results will follow. I’ve worked with many people who seem to always be busy with things others could easily do. When I ask why they don’t delegate those things to their employees, they mostly respond that they would simply rather do it themselves. With every task, ask yourself, is this a good use of my time?
Build an Organized Team
Even though this is not always possible, having an organized team who is there from the beginning of the project is the best scenario. Having to stop and explain everything through again to a new team member can really hold progress up. This is similar to the investment analogy from above, if you take the time to organize and train at the beginning, it really pays off down the road.
Many people are familiar with the SMART acronym for setting goals, and it can be just as readily applied in delegation.
I can’t emphasize enough the importance of being clear and specific. Explain exactly what needs to be done and give all the details the project or assignment requires. Avoid saying things like, “we need to create a page on marketing strategies.” More often than not, your team members has no idea what that page is suppose to look like. Draw a diagram, give them examples, do whatever it takes to clarify the task.
Assign responsibilities that employees can complete and on which they can report back.
Calling meetings to discuss overall business strategies is great, but supplement that with specific action items and brainstorm specific elements. Conveying information without context or explanations of what to do is like creating a business plan but not knowing what step number one is. Don’t make your employees guess as to what it is that you want.
The last thing people need is to have their boss setting unrealistic expectations for them. It is important to stretch your employees to reach their potential, but too much can damage morale. Be very realistic with what you ask of people and make that clear.
Time frames can really help provide clarity. I can’t explain how many tasks I was given earlier in my career where I had no idea when my manager wanted things. Unless there is a meeting or other event coming up that everyone is aware of, give specific deadlines. Lack of time frames is how many projects go over schedule.
Put Yourself in Their Shoes
When delegating to others, try putting yourself in their shoes. “If this task was being explained to me 10 years ago when I was an associate, would I have understood my responsibilities?” We often assume that since things are so clear in our minds, it must be clear in other people’s mind. This is almost never the case, especially when working with younger people in the company. It will always be worth your time to clearly explain things and take questions, than have the person continually coming back to clarify the task. Again, this takes more up-front time, but it’s worth it.