If you’re rushing every day to get it all done, falling behind on project deadlines and still have an ever-growing to-do list that keep you busy in the office till after dark…
… then it’s time for the D-word that let most business owners break out in cold sweat… DELEGATION!
The biggest problem I see with most business owners I work with is that we’re capable, resourceful control freaks who can do too many things well enough to get by…
It’s is a deadly combination for anyone trying to master delegation, because we’ll look at a task and think:
“This task will take me at least two to three times as long to explain it properly to someone else, so why not just do it myself? … and I bet the person won’t do nearly as good a job of it as I would!”
And this type of thinking is exactly why most business owners work longer hours than they ever have in a job and they end up overwhelmed, frustrated, disillusioned and burnt out.
The ‘let me just do it myself’-mindset enslaves you to your business.
Delegation is one of the hardest things to master in your business but it’s also one of the most rewarding and freeing things you can do for yourself and your business, because it will help the business grow + keep you sane.
Mastering the art of delegation will free up your time and give you space to think, plan, implement and actually spend time on money-making activities instead of low level activities that keep you busy spinning your wheels + stuck in the weeds.
“Deciding what NOT to do is as important as deciding what to do.”
~ JESSICA JACKLEY, CO-FOUNDER OF KIVA
No one wakes up one morning and start recruiting or outsourcing tasks. Like most things in business, delegation and building a team are processes that take time to develop.
The delegation process involves various decisions, preparation + systems to work effectively before delegating your first task.
In this post, we’ll focus on the preparation needed for effective delegation.
3 STEPS TO EFFECTIVE DELEGATION AT WORK
TRACK + MEASURE
Do you know how you spend your time each day?
I’m NOT talking about the few things you schedule in your diary…
No, I’m talking about all the unaccounted hours where we’re really busy but can’t say what we’ve been busy with at the end of a day or week. Those hours that seem to slip away unnoticed and unaccounted for…
Unless we are super clear about what we spend our time on every day, we’ll won’t know which tasks can be delegated and who we need on our team of in-house and outsourced staff.
When you track your time, for at least a week but ideally a month, you’ll easily be able to spot your time wasters like a few ‘quick’ website fixes or ‘quickly’ designing graphics in Canva.
Perhaps for you it’s ‘quickly’ fixing your IT issues, doing all the marketing yourself or spending hours to find the ‘right’ image for your social media post?
PREPARATION FOR EFFECTIVE DELEGATION
Start today – track + document:
- Every single task you do in your business for a few weeks including ‘quick’ fixes, meetings, training, planning, client work, etc.
- The time it takes you to complete each task from travel time, lunch time (or lack thereof), how long meetings + calls took, etc.
- Via paper, with an Excel spreadsheet or using a free online tool like Toggl. I explained the tracking exercise in detail, here.
Tracking how you spend your time will help you realize how effective you are in your business and whether the bulk of your time is spent on money-making activities or low-level, routine activities that could be automated or delegated.
Assuming you work 8 hours a day, 5 days a week with a revenue of about $100K per year, an hour of your time is worth at least $48 p/h.
Ask yourself, “Is what I’m doing right now, making me money and worth $48p/h?“
If you’re spending a huge amount of hours searching for images, going to and fro to set up meeting times or returning phone calls and fix IT issues, it’s a sign that elimination, automation or delegation is needed in your business.
KEY QUESTIONS TO ASK:
// Which tasks/ activities can I completely eliminate from my schedule?
// How can I automate routine tasks?
// What can I delegate?
That’s the order: Eliminate, Automate + only then do we Delegate.
We certainly hope for the best, but what happens if the bus hits you on your way to work?
- Can a team member or any other person walk in + run your business?
- Are your business processes recorded?
- Are your business systems clear + easy enough for someone else to follow?
If you answered No to the above questions, it’s time to get things out of your head and onto paper before you can even begin to think about delegation.
Remember, not even the most capable or highest qualified consultant/ employee in the world can read your mind or be expected to do a good job without access to the right information!
That includes clear objectives, super clear instructions, recorded processes + the responsibilities and timelines for each task.
Most business owners are quick to complain about incompetent staff, and yes sometimes we get a bad egg, but in my experience a lack of clear instructions + a lack of systems and/or processes account for up to 80% of project misunderstandings and work that business owners feel are ‘not up to standard’.
Yes it will take a few months to set everything up + train people to do the tasks correctly, but the reward is your freedom… to grow the business, to take a holiday or to spend more time with your partner, your kids or causes close to your heart.
EFFECTIVE DELEGATION IS ABOUT:
- being clear about the task + what the end result looks like for you
- documenting the way you want the task done and specifying the templates or tools to be used to do the task
- effectively communicating your expectations + giving clear instructions to the person who will do the task
- being available to help where it’s needed and to make time to review the work + give feedback.
PREPARATION FOR EFFECTIVE DELEGATION
- If you come across an undocumented process in your business, start today!
- Open a Word document, name it + write down the first few steps of the process
- Schedule a deadline to complete the document if it’s only you in the business OR flesh out the details every time you do the task until it’s complete
- If you have a team, nominate the person responsible for completing the document + set a deadline
- As the business owner or manager, schedule a date in your diary to review + tweak the document.
For a detailed blog post about creating business systems, click here.
PEOPLE + TECHNOLOGY
Now that we know what to delegate and we’ve put processes + systems in place to assist the delegation process, we can finally look at who we need on our team + what technology we can use to manage our projects better and streamline our communication with the people involved.
Your people needs will largely depend on your business needs, the stage your business is in + the longer term vision you have for the business.
When tracking your tasks you possibly noticed several hours wasted on trying to fix a website problem or creating a graphic for your social media. Perhaps you noticed that you never get time to do any marketing or planning.
If the time waster you noticed is something that cannot be eliminated or automated, it’s time for delegation.
- hire an employee
- outsource work to an independent contractor like a consultant or virtual assistant
- or you can use a combination of both options for different types of work.
I like to use different experts for specific things in my business e.g. Facebook Ads or Bookkeeping, and I want to be location independent, so I only use independent contractors in my business.
I always outsource to my weaknesses or dislikes:
- I don’t like bookkeeping, so I outsource it
- I’m not great at doing my taxes, so I have an accountant
- I can spend hours wondering what to post on social media, so I outsource it
- I cannot design logos, so I get a graphic designer
- I dislike cleaning but love a clean organized home, so I get a cleaning company to do it for me.
If you’re not sure, remember to ask yourself, “Is what I’m doing right now, making me money and worth $XXp/h?” (whatever you earn per hour). If the answer is No, it’s time to delegate.
Although none of the people I mentioned above work exclusively for me, I still refer to them as ‘my team’ because they know my business, perform tasks the way I do it in my business and add tremendous value to me and my business.
Technology will greatly simplify the delegation process and help to streamline communication between team members.
These days, technology can be used for nearly everything from file sharing, online appointment scheduling, project management and online training platforms to bookkeeping, invoicing and databases or CRMs (Customer Relationship Management Systems).
Technology will assure that each team member, whether in-house or remotely, has access to the same information in real time.
Here’s only a handful of example options of online software:
- Accounting Software like Xero / MYOB
- File Sharing like Dropbox / Google Drive
- Appointment Scheduling like Acuity Scheduling / Appoint.ly / 10to8.com
- Project Management like Asana
- CRMs like Insightly / Capsule CRM / Zoho / Infusionsoft
Technology will drastically improve clear, consistent communication, effective delegation + help you build a team culture of collaboration and open sharing of information, even if team members are in different locations.
PREPARATION FOR EFFECTIVE DELEGATION
- Analyze the time + task tracking exercise to see in which areas of your business you need delegation right now
- Work out if you need in-house staff or independent contractors
- Get clear on the tasks to delegate or outsource that will deliver the highest ROI (return on investment) in the next 3 months
- Choose the technology options that are right for your business to help you manage your tasks + teams effectively.
Which three tasks will you delegate first if you had someone ready to take them over right now? Leave your comment below.
Author: ALICIA MENKVELD Creator of: BUSINESS CONFIDENCE ACADEMY Alicia Menkveld is an award-winning entrepreneur for the last 17 years who loves to travel and lived on three continents to date. She is an international speaker, author and a trusted adviser to successful business owners and leaders. Alicia is an authority on business strategy, mindset and productivity for individuals and teams. Streamline your business to support your lifestyle.