Many small business owners feel the need to be involved in just about everything that is going on within their business. There are many reasons for this. Perhaps they have always been involved in everything from the time the business started and was a small entity and have a hard time letting go. Perhaps they don’t fully understand how to trust their staff.
Whatever the reason, there will come a point in time when this is crippling to the business and the owner. The owner finds herself working ridiculous hours trying to stay on top of everything and becomes the bottleneck for business growth. You can only do as much business as the owner can handle.
Delegation is an essential skill that can help to alleviate this problem, but delegation must be executed properly in order for it to be effective. Here are nine principles to effective delegation:
PRINCIPLE I – DO WHAT YOU DO BEST; DELEGATE THE REST
Always make sure to focus on your high value activities. Spend some time understanding what you do best and then delegate the rest. If your hourly rate is $200 / hr then you should not be performing any tasks that are not $200 / hr tasks.
PRINCIPLE II – DELEGATE TO A PERSON WITH DEMONSTRATED COMPETENCE
It is critical to delegate to a person that is capable of completing the delegated task to the desired level of competence. There is no point in setting them (and also yourself) up for failure. Choose carefully.
PRINCIPLE III – DEFINE THE TASK CLEARLY
Make sure the individual understands exactly what the intended outcome of the delegated task is, and why the task is important. Describe this to her in detail and then have her feed it back to you. This will ensure that you are both starting out on the same page.
PRINCIPLE IV – SET A DEADLINE
Set a clear deadline for completion of the task. Make the deadline precise. A deadline of sometime in the next two weeks is not good enough. A deadline like “end of day Friday, May 27” is much more clear and precise.
PRINCIPLE V – ESTABLISH BENCHMARKS
Create a plan with benchmarks against which you will measure progress on the delegated task over time. These benchmarks must be easily and clearly measured and agreed upon by both parties.
PRINCIPLE VI – AGREE ON RESOURCES
Come to agreement on the resources that will be required and available to the delegatee (this could include some of your time).
PRINCIPLE VII – AGREE ON CONSEQUENCES
What will be the consequences of successfully completing the task? Conversely, what will be the consequences of not completing the task to the agreed upon level of completeness and quality? Make sure you are in agreement on this.
PRINCIPLE VIII – PUT IT IN WRITING
Have the entire process documented in a written agreement. Have the person to whom the task has been delegated prepare the written agreement. Agree on the content and have each of you sign it. This final step transforms your mutual understanding into a commitment.
PRINCIPLE IX – INSPECT WHAT YOU EXPECT
You took the time to establish benchmarks and timelines against which you could measure progress being made on the project. Use them. Establish a process whereby you will execute timely monitoring of the agreed upon benchmarks and timelines.
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