As ambitious boot-strapping entrepreneurs, you’re no stranger to hard work. You’ve turned over every rock to identify valuable work and avoid unnecessary tasks that keep you from bringing on employees. But despite your best efforts, you’ve hit a wall. Your personal capacity has reached its limit, and you know that to take your business to the next level, you need to expand your team.
Knowing that hiring is the next best step, why does the thought of it fill you with dread? It’s simple: you’ve built a brand based on exceptionalism that you, personally, have commandeered. The idea of trusting someone else to do the job as well as you creates a deep sense of anxiety. Even so, bringing on help is necessary for your business to grow. It’s quite the dilemma — hire, trust, and grow or keep to a small scale.
The fear of entrusting some of your work to others can hold you back. But, by continuing to work beyond what is humanly possible, you are only bottlenecking your growth and limiting your success.
The truth is, bringing on help doesn’t have to be scary. With the right skills in place, your team is equipped to handle tasks with the same level of excellence you require.
Task Assignment for Entrepreneurs: Deciding or Delegating
When it comes to managing your team and getting the right tasks done, there are two fundamental approaches: deciding and delegating. The problem is — most entrepreneurs think they’re “delegating” when they’re really “deciding.” It’s no wonder they’re frustrated
Deciding is when we take charge of a task and make all the decisions on how to complete it. This approach makes sense when a project requires only the entrepreneur’s specific skill set or knowledge. In such situations, you want control to ensure the task is completed correctly.
On the other hand, delegating involves assigning tasks to team members with the necessary skills and experience to complete them. Delegating, done right, frees up your time so you can focus on more critical tasks. It also allows your team members to take ownership of their work and develop their skills. It makes them an integral part of your organization. And it’s the primary reason most entrepreneurs want to expand their teams.
Mastering Delegation: A Step-by-Step Guide
Delegation is an impactful skill that involves assigning tasks and responsibilities to others. Done right, it free’s up your time, expands your team’s skills, and boosts overall productivity.
To avoid the “decision trap” when you really intend to “delegate,” here is a step-by-step process:
- Identify the task. The first step is to identify the task that needs to be assigned. Sounds simple enough, right? Except, identification is not enough. It’s equally important to be clear about what needs to be done and why it is essential. This increases the likelihood that you reach your intended outcome.
- Choose the right person. The next step is to choose the right person for the task. Consider the individual’s skills, experience, and workload before assigning the task. And, if you don’t have the right skill on your team? That’s a dilemma immediately. However, it can serve as a powerful reminder to understand and hire the skills needed to move work off your plate.
- Define the task. Once the right person has been selected, communicating the details of the task clearly is essential. Explain the task’s goals, timeline, and expectations. Finally, be sure to ask if they have any questions or concerns.
- Provide support. Make sure your team member has the necessary resources, tools, and support to execute the task successfully.
- Set deadlines. Inform your team member of the date by which the task needs to be completed. Honestly, I love providing a timeline that is 48 hours before the actual deadline to allow enough time for anything that may go wrong.
- Monitor progress. Without micromanaging (no one likes a “helicopter boss”), check in with the team member periodically to monitor progress and ensure that everything is on track.
- Provide feedback. When the task is completed, provide feedback on their performance and coach them through their experience.
Finally, when delegating tasks to others, it’s essential to reward your team members’ ownership of the task. Your goal, after all, is to shift your responsibility for decision-making to them. If a team member is being punished or made to feel they failed for wrong decisions, you merely train them to come back to you for decisions.
Keys to Fruitful Delegation: Trust & Communication
Trust and communication are essential for business success. It’s no different with delegation.
As entrepreneurs, we must trust our team members to handle the assigned tasks and make the right decisions successfully. This trust doesn’t happen overnight. It’s built over time through clear communication, collaboration, and beneficial feedback. If we’re struggling to delegate, it may signal that we lack trust in our team members, which leads to micromanagement, reduced productivity, and demotivation.
Another crucial skill required for productive delegation to occur is communication. We must communicate our expectations clearly, which means that we need to be clear about our own expectations. We also want to provide guidance and support whenever needed, answering any questions or addressing any concerns without hovering. Good communication fosters a culture of collaboration, essential for effective delegation and growth.
In essence, deciding and delegating are two distinctive approaches to task assignment, and each has its benefits and drawbacks. Deciding can be appropriate for short-term or high-pressure situations requiring quick decisions. Delegating, on the other hand, is essential for long-term success, as it allows team members to develop their skills and take on more significant responsibilities. Effective delegation requires trust, communication, collaboration, and feedback. Being skilled in both and knowing when to use each approach to achieve the best outcomes for their team and organization is key.