As a small business owner, you wear many hats. You may have started out with limited resources and had no choice but to take on the roles of a CEO, CFO, IT specialist, and marketing director. As the business grows and your workload increases, however, it becomes increasingly difficult to juggle so many responsibilities. Unfortunately, if you stretch yourself too thin, your business is likely to suffer as a result.
Running your small business efficiently and effectively begins with thinking like a boss and bringing a leadership mindset to the table. With only so many hours in a day, you will have to let go of managing every last detail in order to dedicate time to growing your business. In other words, you need to get out of the weeds and focus on the bigger picture.
Many business owners will happily delegate tasks they aren’t good at. Effective bosses are not afraid to hand off critical business responsibilities such as accounting and marketing. They know that doing so will allow them to get more done as well as foster a competent and confident workforce.
There is an art to delegating tasks, and mastering it earns you the respect of your team while helping your small business flourish holistically and financially. Since today is National Boss Day, it’s a good time to reflect on your current delegation skills and follow these tips to help improve them.
1 – Delegation is a dialogue, not a monologue.
Effective delegation is not simply telling an employee what to do. It involves assigning responsibility along with the authority to do what is needed to produce the desired results. This requires a two-way conversation that involves being clear about what has to be accomplished and when, ensuring your team has the guidance and support they need, and empowering them to act independently.
Schedule time to meet with the designated employee or team face-to-face rather than communicating via email. Explain why they were selected for the task, map out your expectations, and invite feedback and questions. Success depends on getting everyone involved on the same page from the start. Be sure that by the end of the discussion you agree about timing and the control process, and the employee not only understands what they are committing to, but has the tools to see the task through to fruition.
2 – Provide training and guidance.
Letting go of responsibilities can be difficult, and it can be even harder to allocate time and resources to train others to handle those responsibilities. Business owners and managers who have trouble delegating often feel that it is faster and easier to do the task themselves. Remember that the point of delegating is not just to take work off your plate, but also to hone your team’s skills. Investing in a knowledgeable and well-trained staff will pay off in terms of increased productivity, customer service, retention, and revenue.
Determine if the employee or team needs training before they assume additional tasks and what guidance they will need to succeed. Allow them to get involved in the process by asking what would help them improve their skills or develop as leaders. They will appreciate the fact that you value their input and are likely to have ideas you haven’t considered. Giving them the resources needed to properly and efficiently execute their assignments will let your team know you are rooting for their success.
3 – Don’t just instruct, empower.
It’s critical that you build confidence in your team. Whether you are delegating because your desk is overflowing or because it’s time to give managers the chance to lead, allocating tasks empowers your team, instills a sense of trust, and gives them the opportunity to let their strengths shine.
Small business owners have a responsibility to avoid using delegation as a test of their staff’s ability or resourcefulness. Setting employees up for failure by not giving them the tools, support, and authority to achieve results creates a culture of fear. Instead, let your team know you are there to mentor and support their success. This will prepare them for bigger and more important assignments in the future.
4 – Get regular progress reports.
Check-ins are vital to ensuring delegated projects are on track. Even employees who have the skills and work well independently should provide regular updates on their progress. Set timeframes for team members to submit reports or schedule weekly or monthly meetings to discuss how various tasks are coming along and flag problems or issues. This will help ensure actionable items are being fulfilled and deadlines are being met and allow you to provide additional resources or guidance where needed. If projects have been assigned to a large team or one that includes consultants or remote staff, consider using collaboration tools such as Google Docs, Basecamp, or Slack to make it simple for everyone to track tasks and stay up-to-date.
5 – Offer feedback and praise.
It is important to provide feedback along the way rather than waiting until the task is completed. Make sure you or your manager stay in touch with the employee or team. Offer positive reinforcement and coaching, and thank them for their diligence. Once the project is finished, sit down together for a thorough debrief.
Evaluate the performance of those involved. What did they do well? Where can they improve? How can you or the manager do a better job of helping them succeed? Identifying and sharing the lessons learned will go a long way towards finding better ways to achieve results going forward.
Successful small business owners know when it’s time to share leadership and responsibilities with others in order to take their business to the next level. Giving yourself a deadline for delegating key tasks and sticking to it will allow you to leverage your own time and give your team the opportunity to thrive and grow.
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