When you start your own business and it’s just you (or a partner perhaps) you do everything. You do the sales, the accounts, the admin, the mail, the work itself…… the list goes on. When you find that you’re in a position to grow and take on specialists you must take those chances as they’ll help take your business to the next level. This often isn’t easy though.
The first thing I employed someone for was the books. Within a year of starting we had a bookeeper that came in once a month. It was just enough to deal with the purchase ledger and VAT/Tax. We also had an accountant but that was a friend of the family helping me out so I guess I can’t count that.
I’m going to be honest with you – Over the years I have been pretty awful at delegating. It’s one of my weaknesses but I’m really working hard on it and want to share some of the things I’m learning with you. I like to have control, to know where everything is and like many other business owners, believe that I can do many things better than other people – This however is not the trait of a successful businessman I’m afraid. Businesses run by people like this can achieve a certain level of growth but if they keep on the same vane it holds them back. They must let go.
Having read the fantastic book ‘One Minute Manager’ (Aff Link) I’ve learnt that delegating is extremely important, but not just that, the process of ‘how to delegate’ is even more vital if you’re to get it right. I’m much better at giving things up now. In my Online Marketing agency, the two directors (of which I’m one) are building a team of fantastic individuals who we feel more than comfortable asking to carry out tasks, knowing they will be done and done with vigor. In your businesses you need to build similar teams around you – recognising where your skills don’t lie and filling these in around you.
I mentioned you need a process for delegating – a framework if you will. Well here’s mine – feel free to nab it.
My Frame work for Delegating
1). Define the task fully – When asking someone to do something, make sure the task is crystal clear. If you’re doing this by email or text, re-read it a couple of times if necessary to make sure you think there can be no room for error.
2). Define when you need the outcome to take place. If you’re asking for a report or something to come back to you then define that date/time clearly. I went wrong here a lot – I assumed by delegating that everyone else’s priorities would match mine then got upset when people didn’t deliver – it was my fault as I didn’t define my expectations on delivery clearly enough.
3). Define the expectations - Much like the time/date, if you have expectations of what you require, put them down as well. If you want someone to take something and make decisions on your behalf, tell them or it will probably end up back on your plate.
4). Set a follow up - When you agree the time/date, agree what the follow up looks like – is it a meeting, an email, a document on your desk.
5). Define success - Not always relevant with smaller and more mundane tasks but essential with larger, more important ones. Say what you ideally want the outcome to be so the person you’re asking has some indication of what they are working towards.
6). Remember what you’ve delegated - I really struggled with this before. Where do I keep a note of what I’ve delegated? I’ve tried lots of systems but I’ve ended up using a fantastic service called NudgeMail. You simply send Nudgemail an email with the date you want it to ‘nudge’ you (for example firstname.lastname@example.org and it will do just that. I don’t remind myself of everything I delegate but I do with the larger task as sometimes a casual nudge to the person I’ve delegated to is required and I believe that showing you care and haven’t forgotten can also be important
Now Your Thoughts
- Are you a control freak or have you mastered the art of delegation?
- Have you got any tips for us on this art?