Entrepreneurship2 December 20206 min

#WisdomWednesday: how to delegate like a champ

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Last week we talked about how to get more done without burning out. A big part of that is learning how to prioritise, and communicate those priorities to your employees. Effective leadership also means delegating tasks so that you can focus on moving your company forward. This #WisdomWednesday we explain how to do that while keeping your team motivated and happy for the long run:

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Stop doing everything yourself

We get it: you built this company from scratch in your garage, basement or broom closet, and it’s your baby. The thing is, if you want your baby to grow and be successful, you can’t keep doing everything yourself. Even if you could maintain complete control without losing your mind, it’s not good for your company for several reasons: first of all, you need to free up your time so that you can see the bigger picture and make strategic decisions. You also need to focus on coaching and leading your staff so that everyone is on the same page. Delegating tasks also empowers employees to be their most effective, builds their skills and motivates them to reach higher.

So to lead a strong company, you need to learn how to delegate tasks or projects to someone else. So how do you go about doing that? Here’s a quick checklist:

· Identify all the tasks and projects you need to do.

· Keep all the activities that only you can perform, because they require your skills, knowledge, or level of responsibility. Focus on tasks that “move the needle” and get your company moving forward.

· All the tasks that require specialised knowledge you don’t have in-house (from copywriting to accounting) need to go to an outside expert

· Everything else goes to your staff.

· Select the people you will delegate to, depending on their skills, expertise and workload

· Explain why you have chosen them and why their work is important

· Define the desired priorities, results and timeframe so that everyone has a clear understanding of what you expect.

Delegating is something that requires careful consideration and strong communication. Below we’ll discuss the best way to approach it.

Choose the right person for the job

While it is your responsibility to make sure everyone’s workload is well-balanced, don’t just throw tasks at the person who has the most available time. It’s important to choose the right person for each type of work. Often people will need some time to train or get the hang of something, and accepting this is one of the biggest hurdles to learning to delegate. That said, you don’t want to have to do it over and over again.

So think about who should be doing this type of work regularly in the long term. Investing the time training that person will pay off, as the right person will be motivated by growing their skills and your company will benefit from having someone who can do it well without your intervention.

Explain why you’re delegating the task

Sure, you can dump a bunch of work on someone’s plate and expect them to do it because you’re the boss. But truly successful companies use delegating as an opportunity to motivate employees by showing them the meaning and value of their work. Start by explaining why the task is needed, what it is, and what the expected results are. Then tell them what’s in it for them: what can they expect to learn? How will this contribute to their future at your startup?

For example, you can ask your employee Sarah to write a marketing email. Typically you would need to explain what you want to communicate and who the target audience is. But also grab the chance to make it clear what the ultimate purpose is: “Sarah, if you write this email we get the chance to make our product known to 200 people.” Now Sarah doesn’t think, “I wrote an email today.” She thinks, “I made hundreds of people aware of our brand today.” Which do you think is more motivating?

Finally, be honest with your staff about why you chose them to do certain tasks. Show them that you have thought about what their particular strengths and ambitions are and how they fit into your company’s future. Employees want to know that they can grow with your company, especially at a startup that’s running on a shoestring and a dream. Every small task fits into the big picture, and it’s important for employees to see the link. For example, if Sarah’s big goal is to become more involved with marketing, explain how this marketing email is a first step. You can bet she’s going to write the best damn email she can!

Set them up for success

One of the main causes of employee burnout is of course, too much work. So leaders need to be as clear on their employees’ priorities as they are on their own. There are only so many hours to go around, so look at the big picture and decide what just can’t fit on anyone’s plate right now. What’s on the “To Don’t List” of the entire company? Check in with your employees regularly to make sure that they can handle the work and that they are spending the bulk of their time on main priorities instead of getting lost in micro tasks.

There’s also nothing more stressful than getting handed a big task without clear expectations. According to our partner Oracle, only 68% of employees know what’s expected of them. This causes a lot of frustration and makes it hard to take responsibility. Being clear doesn’t mean micro-managing, which stands in the way of truly handing over a task and can be completely demotivating. It means giving your employees what they need to succeed and being there to back them up. Let them decide what, how and when they will carry it out. The more flexibility you give your employees to do it their way, the more they will take ownership of the task. Once your employees get the hang of their new responsibility, your ship will sail smoothly with little need to intervene. The trust you give your employees to handle things themselves will continue to motivate them, while you get to focus on the bigger picture.

Which tasks will you hand over to your superstars today? Get delegating and ready to grow!