Lisa Robbin Young

How to make delegation easier

Delegation can be a royal PITA. As a solo or micro business owner, it's not always as easy as passing a task to someone else in order to get it off your plate. If you're a Fusion Creative, it's very often true that you can do it yourself faster.

But faster, in this case, isn't always better. If you don't slow down once in a while to train someone else to do those tasks, you end up holding the bag on EVERYTHING.

Um... no thanks! We're all about Creative FREEDOM over here!

Identify what you can delegate

Not every single task can be delegated. Some work is strategic or critical to your business and may require your personal attention. Evaluate both the performance of the work and then the implications that come with delegating it. I generally encourage folks to start with the tasks that, if they fell through the cracks, wouldn't destroy the momentum of the business. I start most of my VAs with tasks that aren't time sensitive. That way, if I need to pick up the slack or find someone else to do that work, I've got plenty of time. If they prove capable on those tasks, we move on to more "mission critical" activities.

Generally, if a task is recurring or duplicatable, that's a good place to start: scheduling media, data entry, etc. If you can create a 'how to recipe' of the steps involved in doing a task, it's something you can probably delegate relatively quickly. If you work in construction, a BuildOps glossary can be useful. A process doc is a great place to start keeping track of the steps involved in completing the tasks inside your business. Once you've done the task from the process doc a few times to work out any missing steps or bugs, then you can pass that task on to almost anyone to accomplish because all they have to do is follow the "recipe" to get the end result.

Source: Pexels (CC0 License)

Let go

There's a difference between delegating a task and delegating an outcome. You need to learn how to let go and trust your team member to get the desired end result - even if they find a better approach than YOUR process doc to get it done! If you don’t, then you may find that it harder to delegate in the long term. Delegating tasks means you still need to follow up and check their work. Delegating the outcome means they're responsible for flying the plane and it's up to them to make sure it's done right - without you checking and approving everything.

That can be very uncomfortable when you're dealing with time-sensitive tasks... which is why I start my team with tasks that don't create that kind of pressure from the onset. It takes time for your team to learn your approach, just like it takes time for you to learn how to effectively delegate. In the same vein, some team members may take time to get work done, and you might even be able to do it faster. That doesn’t mean you should take care of it yourself though (not at first, anyway), it just means that you need to take steps to give your team more training going forward. If they can't pick it up in a reasonable manner, then it might not be something you can delegate just yet.

Clarify your priorities

Understanding your priorities and the difficulty of your tasks will make things easier. If something is a high priority then this means that it has to get done soon, whether it is by you or by someone else. Depending on the work, you can then decide to take care of it yourself or to delegate. The best way for you to try and clarify your priorities would be for you to connect your work to your team goals, and your company goals. It will then become easier for you to make decisions moving forward. 

Understand strengths

Efficient delegation has two elements, which involve delegating work to teams who have skills in that particular area and giving people the chance to work on new skills. Make sure you understand what your team's goals are. Host some 1:1 meetings to get a better feel for what your team is up to, their personal dreams and goals. When jobs align to those goals, team members are often more committed to doing the work - because there's a bigger benefit to them than just compensation.

Provide context

When you hand off work to other people, you have to make sure that you are providing clear context. You have to set the other person up for success. This includes helping them to understand how to get the work done and also the due date for the task. You should give them the tools they need to get the job done and the priority of each segment. By doing this, and by explaining the outcome you want, you will soon find that it becomes easier to get things done. Keep in mind that the work may be easy for you to do, but it might not be easy for someone else. Try and take the time to walk everyone through the assignment and then answer any questions that they may have. This will ensure that everyone on the team is set up for success.

Invest in Training

There may be work that nobody in your team can do but you. Some managers think that they cannot delegate work at all, but depending on the priorities you have, it may be better to train other people to do it. You have to remember that training takes time, and although it is tempting to do it yourself, it is a good way to protect the future of your business. Part of training someone else how to do the work will give them the space they need to solve problems. 

Prioritize Feedback

When you are training someone, you have to prioritize feedback and you also need to ensure solid communication. If you don’t then you may find that you end up struggling more than you have to and this is the last thing you need. Ask for feedback too. By asking your team if there was anything that you could have done better, you can then go ahead and delegate more efficiently in the future. As you coach people through work, make sure you aren’t spending too much time on it. Instead, focus on the end goal and then give your team members the chance to come up with their process. You never know, this may help you to be more innovative going forward and it might also help you to become a better business owner overall. If you can keep things like this in mind then you will soon find that it is easier for you to move forward with a much more positive and productive attitude.

Delegation can be easier than you expect if you take it slow. Sometimes you get lucky and someone can just take everything off your plate like you've cloned yourself. More often, though, it's a slow, steady process to bring the right people onto your team and help them get up to speed. You can do this. Just commit to one task at a time, then outcomes, and eventually, you'll be able to step away from the tasks entirely!

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