Many entrepreneurs find it difficult to delegate tasks to others even though delegation can be critical to growing a successful business. Not delegating can make you overworked and ineffective and lead to missed opportunities and unsatisfied customers. But delegating improperly or to the wrong person can have disastrous results.
Delegation is a process, not just a one-time complete handoff of control. If you are a small business owner trying to grow your business but finding it difficult to delegate, there are some actions you can take to increase your chances of success.
Write job descriptions for each position in your business. You can do this based on your requirements for the position and on observing your employees. You may wish to have someone from outside your business observe employees performing their tasks and give you feedback on what the position really entails. Be sure that existing and new employees understand their job descriptions.
Be sure your current and future employees understand and are on board with your company’s mission and values. If you have not already done so, write a mission statement and values statement for your business. Consistently communicate and apply these as you operate the business so that your employees can use this information to help them make decisions.
Hire people who bring talents, skills and experience to the business that you do not necessarily have. In other words, do not be afraid to hire someone better than you. You need employees that can improve your business and that can handle the tasks you delegate to them. You should also look for candidates that are not only a good fit for the position but a good fit with your organizational culture.
In addition to making sure the employees you hire have the proper experience and skills needed, be sure you provide the additional training needed after hiring them. Depending on your business, this may need to be done through classroom training, training manuals and/or on the job training.
Develop systems and put them in place to help things run more smoothly. Create a Policy and Procedures Manual for your business that lays out what should be done and how it should be done so your employees understand how to accomplish tasks and make decisions.
You may need specific separate manuals for processes like order taking, handling customer complaints, and shipping & receiving. But do not be too rigid. Your employees need guidance, but they also need to know they are empowered to make decisions and handle unexpected situations as they occur.
You also need to develop an Employee Manual so employees know and understand rules related to their employment. It is advisable to get an attorney who specializes in employment law to assist you with this.
While it is important to communicate procedures and expectations before you delegate, it is also critical that you keep the lines of communication open after you delegate. Monitor how your employees are doing and give them feedback.
Offer performance incentives when measured goals are met. Offer feedback to correct undesirable performance. You will slowly be able to do less monitoring and relinquish more control as the delegation process continues.
In summary, to delegate successfully you need to carefully determine specifically what needs to be done and then choose and develop qualified people to do it. Communicate to them what needs to be done and why it is important to the overall success of the company. Be sure to set expectations concerning goals and timelines and then monitor performance and provide feedback.
Connie Edwards is a business consultant with The University of Georgia’s Small Business Development Center. Contact her at 912-651-3200.
Edwards, Connie (2011, October 19). Learn to delegate to grow business. Business in Savannah.