You might have an easy answer to that question. Either you delegate all the time and you think you’ve got it right or you don’t delegate at all.
If you’re a sole trader, delegating can feel as if you’re handing your baby over to a complete stranger. Either you’ve decided to take on an employee or you’re preparing to work with a freelancer. Potentially, choosing to outsource to a freelancer is less risky. If things aren’t working letting a freelancer go is much more straightforward than if they were an employee.
Equally, if you’re in a larger business supervising a team of employees, their work will reflect on you. You need to make sure that they’re being entrusted with work that suits their abilities.
I’ve been on both sides of the delegation table. Mostly the tasks I was given were entirely appropriate. However there was the odd occasion in my years of legal practice where I’d express concern about my ability level and be told to get on with it. I suppose that’s more of a supervision issue, which is a whole new blog post in itself…
Good delegation can be difficult. When you’re busy, often your team are too. I’ve always been a planner but even with the best intentions it doesn’t always work. I was occasionally guilty of handing a ridiculously short deadline to another team member and it doesn’t feel great. Equally, an over confident but inexperienced colleague once lulled me into a false sense of security.
No matter how your team is constructed here are a few key ways to ensure you delegate effectively.
Have defined roles
If you’re a sole trader, this bit tends to be easy. You’ll have identified a task (or series of tasks) that you don’t want to do or aren’t terribly good at. Then you find someone else to do them for you. That could mean hiring a freelance PA or VA to do your admin or an accountant to deal with your books.
In theory, this should transfer to more traditional workplaces too, however it isn’t always that simple. I haven’t seen a job description yet that didn’t include “additional tasks as required by…” This can mean that you take on an employee to do one thing but find that the role shifts over time.
The more clearly a person’s role is defined, the better your chance of delegating suitable tasks to them. Which brings me to…
Delegate appropriate tasks
This sounds incredibly simple. Essentially it boils down to asking people to do only the things they’re capable of doing. Of course, there’s nothing wrong with giving an employee a challenge if you want to develop them. However, you would of course be building on their existing skill set in doing so – at least, I hope you would.
This can also apply to freelancers. You might take someone on for a specific skill set and then find you need to add tasks on. You might think that all VAs are equal. However, some prefer more traditional admin tasks whilst others specialise in marketing or social media support.
However you choose to work, listen to your staff. It doesn’t mean that you have to take everything they say at face value. Everyone wimps out through fear of a new challenge now and again. Not everyone is fully aware of their capabilities. But if they’re saying they genuinely can’t carry out a task properly, either through lack of skill or insufficient time, you need to listen.
Are you a delegation expert? Give me your tips in the comments below!