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Strategies for delegating better and getting more job done

  • LEARN TO LET GO: The biggest problem most entrepreneurs face is the inability to let go of their own work. Sometimes they feel so dedicated to completing their own work that they refuse to let other people help. Other times, they fear that nobody else has the skills or abilities necessary to execute the work effectively. Whatever the case may be, your first priority needs to be to learn to let go. Start small, delegating only the smallest tasks, and gradually work your way up.
  • ESTABLISH A FIRM PRIORITY SYSTEM: As part of the letting-go process, start developing a priority system for tasks. Of course, this system will vary on the basis of your expertise, your industry, and the types of tasks you usually handle, but create at least four categories, according to the degree of effort a task requires and the degree of skill. The highest-skilled category should contain tasks that you keep on your own plate, while those in the lower-skilled categories can be assigned to others.
  • PLAY TO YOUR TEAMMATES’ STRENGTHS: As a leader, you’ll have to learn the subtleties of your teammates. You should know each individual’s strengths and weaknesses, including his or her current, and potential, range of skills. When delegating, take a look at your team and assign tasks to whoever has the greatest number of relevant skills for that task. It seems like an obvious choice, but too many leaders delegate to whoever has the lightest workload or is the most convenient.
  • ALWAYS INCLUDE INSTRUCTIONS: Even if the task process seems obvious to you, make sure to include instructions with each task you delegate. If you have specific preferences for how the assignment will be carried out, include that information. If you have a strict deadline or milestones you need to hit, be clear about them. Including details and straightforward instructions from the get-go will avoid most communication gaps and will allow your tasks to be executed effectively.
  • DON’T BE AFRAID TO TEACH NEW SKILLS: Lacking someone on your team with the ability to execute a certain task on your to-do list doesn’t mean the work can’t be delegated. Most skills can be learned — some more easily than others — so don’t be afraid to teach as a part of the delegation process. Though the assignment of your first few tasks will take more time than it will save you (since you’ll need to train your chosen employee), consider it an investment.
  • TRUST, BUT VERIFY: Once a task is delegated, trust your teammate to execute it on his or her own terms. This will allow the person to tackle the work the way he or she feels is best. However, don’t be afraid to occasionally step in and verify that the task is moving along as planned. For example, if you made an assignment a week ago that’s due tomorrow, trust that your employee is on top of things, but send a quick verification email to make sure the person hasn’t hit any snags.
  • USE FEEDBACK LOOPS TO IMPROVE DELEGATION: Feedback is the most important part of the delegation process, and it works both ways. If your teammates have done well with a task you assigned, let them know by publicly thanking them and offering genuine praise. If they’ve fallen short, don’t be afraid to give them some constructive criticism. Invite your workers to share their thoughts on how you’re delegating. It’s a critical chance for you to improve.

You should be able to answer these questions

  • What do you do in-house and what do you delegate?
  • What are the key processes and operations involved?
  • What are the key activities that are needed to achieve your impact objectives?
  • What overlaps are there between the two sets of activities?
  • Are there ways we can build efficiencies into these complementary activities?
  • What oppositional activities are there?
  • How can we address these so that they are more balanced?
  • What facilities and equipment do you require?
  • What are your needs and challenges?
  • What are the costs to achieve your commercial objectives?
  • What are the costs to deliver and scale your impact?

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