If you are the kind of founder who is first into the office every morning, last out at night and you spend the hours in between permanently stressed, chances are you have yet to master the art of delegation.
Entrepreneurs and business founders are programmed to work hard and throw their all into any venture they create. And that energy and personal commitment is a big part of why they’ve succeeded. But at some point, every founder needs to master the art of delegation, otherwise they risk losing the business they are trying to protect.
Despite studies and proof from successful leaders such as Richard Branson that the ability to successfully delegate is critical for business growth, delegation remains one of the most underrated competencies in leadership.
“Delegating means letting others become the experts and hence the best.”
-Timothy Firnstahl, businessman
Since they have actively gone out and hired staff to work for them, many founders assume they understand and appreciate the need for delegation. But brining in people to perform different functions is only part of it and it is much more complex than that.
Here are my top tips to mastering the art of delegation:
- Be honest about everything you do and consider what can be passed on
In order to be able to delegate you need a clear picture of everything you do, when and why you do it. I am amazed to often find managers who still carry out simple tasks like opening and distributing the post every day, as they used to do it when then ran the business alone and they haven’t quite handed it over to an employee for whatever reason.
Consider if the tasks you are doing use your skills and time to the fullest and what the cost implications are. Consider what an hour of your time is worth and what you might pay someone else. Then consider whether it is something you could and should delegate or if it is a job that even really needs delegating. We all get into the habit of doings things which may not be needed so consider that some tasks might be better relegated to the past than delegated at all. For those essential tasks you can delegate, try and work this into project management plans and staff development reviews so it flows naturally, and ‘delegation’ does not just become an extra task.
- Delegate to the right person – even if they don’t know they are
Former US President Dwight Eisenhower, famously said: “Leadership is the art of getting someone else to do something you want done because he wants to do it.”
A good business is reliant on having a good team of staff. But when it comes to delegating it is vital you delegate to the right person and ensure all of your team are given the chance to prove themselves. For people to grow and learn they all need to feel empowered, so when you are looking for someone to delegate to, don’t just head for the most confident person who is always pushing for more responsibility. Pick the right person for the task, even if that means asking people to do things which are outside their comfort zones but which you can see them being good at or enjoying.
- Take the time and energy spent doing a task yourself and focus it on educating or mentoring someone you can delegate to
People often tell they are swamped with work, but too busy to find the time or energy to train someone to help them with it. But remember, having trained someone you will not only be far more confident is handing over the task, you will help that team member to gain confidence. Keep this going and you can soon build a business culture in which staff do not feel they have to leave and work elsewhere in order to gain skills and take on responsibility.
- Don’t give up if you hit bumps in the road – see the bigger picture
If you delegate a task to someone and they don’t get it right the first time, it doesn’t mean you were wrong to delegate, it simply means learning is an ongoing process. The team member you have picked might struggle at first or they might do a job which you are not happy with but don’t use this as an excuse to take the task back and do it yourself.
Confidence comes with repetition and encouragement so if things are not right at first then use it as a learning opportunity and work with the person to get things right. It might seem time consuming, but if you can avoid the urge to just start doing the task again yourself it will save you time and energy in the long run.
- Stand to one side and don’t hover over people’s shoulders
Just because you have always done something a certain way it doesn’t mean it is the best or only way. If you want to empower people you can expect them to do things exactly as you do – as they may achieve the end result in a different way. Ensure the task is clearly defined but then stand back and allow room for independent thought and different styles.
If you have hired the right people, nurtured and mentored them well, then as you delegate you might find tasks are done even better than you could have dreamed of. And by establishing a culture like this staff will feel trusted, empowered and able to come to you with new ideas which will benefit the company and encourage growth.
By Adrian Enache
Adrian Enache is the CEO of Angels Den. Angels Den Funding is an online investment platform that makes it simple for investors to own shares in early-stage companies with great potential.
Kizzi Nkwocha is the editor of Business Game Changer Magazine and publisher of The UK Newspaper, Money and Finance Magazine, the net’s fastest growing wealth creation publication. Kizzi Nkwocha is chair of The Ethical Publishers Association and co-chair of The Logistics Association. Kizzi made his mark in the UK as a publicist, journalist and social media pioneer. As a widely respected and successful media consultant he has represented a diverse range of clients including the King of Uganda, and Amnesty International. Nkwocha has also become a well-known personality on both radio and television. He has been the focus of a Channel 4 documentary on publicity and has hosted his own talk show, London Line, on Sky TV. He has also produced and presented both radio and TV shows in Cyprus and Spain.