You Can’t Do It All: How to Delegate Effectively

Entrepreneurs suffer from two common “isms” – perfectionism and workaholism. Of course, these traits can be highly beneficial at times, but when it comes to delegating, they just get in the way. You may not trust other people to perform tasks exactly how you want them to be done. And you may even feel like a slacker who isn’t taking enough responsibility for your own business. But as your operation grows, the demands on your time and energy will climb higher and higher until getting help is no longer an option.

So instead of letting yourself slip into exhaustion, why not learn to delegate early on? Even if you’re still a solopreneur, getting help from supporters on more menial tasks can make a world of difference. And if you have employees, this skill is basically mandatory for long-term success. So let’s jump right in! How do you delegate effectively?

Figure Out What You Hate

Let’s face it – we all have mundane tasks on our to-do list that we dread. They vary for each individual, but we all have them. For example, many of us hate doing accounting and managing finances, but for some people it is their forte. Come to terms with the tasks you really would rather not do – or the tasks you’re not good at. If you can’t simplify or improve the experience of doing these things, it may be time to delegate them to employees or freelancers.

Determine What’s Appropriate

The next thing to decide is whether the things you want to delegate are appropriate to delegate. Are there other members of your team that have enough time and expertise to do these things? In addition, you want to avoid delegating tasks that blur the lines of someone’s job description. For example, don’t request that your trusted marketing guru handle a task that doesn’t relate to marketing. This can not only create confusion, but may even cause resentment if that person feels burdened by the additional work. Try to ensure all team players are working in their area of expertise.

Another part of this involves getting to know your team on a deeper level. By talking with your team members, you can gain a better understanding of what each person excels in. In addition, simply observing your team closely can reveal problem areas and strengths. When considering what to delegate, be considerate and play to your team’s strengths.

Get Clear and Concise

Now that you’ve got a plan, the next critical step is finding clarity in articulating it. Think back to times when others had to explain procedures to you. What helped and what didn’t? If the task is complex, consider writing out guidelines so the other person has something to reference as they learn. Make sure to clear up any questions or possible discrepancies in understanding. (Just because you know how you want something done doesn’t mean the other person automatically gets it). Even if it takes some extra time you feel like you don’t have, take the time anyway. Thoroughly training someone else will save you immense amounts of time in the future.

Remember: You’re the Boss

Sometimes you may feel awkward or uncomfortable delegating things to other team members. However, this is a mindset that won’t serve you, your customers, or any employees you currently have. Your primary job is to manage the overall direction of the business. This covers a lot of ground and often includes odds and ends that don’t even fit into a job description – you might answer inquiries, set up advertising opportunities, attend a strategic meeting, and invest in a new e-commerce site all in one day. This is a lot to keep track of, and without delegating some smaller tasks, your entire day (and night) will be jam-packed with work.

If you let this spiral continue on and on, you start to become a mere employee rather than a manager. Your attention goes to in-the-moment work and you fail to maintain the space to actually manage. Looking to the future, planning, and strategic leadership are major endeavors. So don’t let yourself feel guilty for getting help with the little stuff.

Learning how to delegate effectively can open up an array of opportunities in both your professional and personal life. It can give you peace of mind that you didn’t think was possible and free time to work on the more important aspects of growing your business.