Perhaps one of the hardest things for entrepreneurs to assimilate is that delegating work is an art that should be a top priority when starting a company. You can’t possibly be all things to all people and you can only stretch your time and talents just so far. If you learn to delegate work, your startup has a better chance, not only at success, but at the speed at which you can start seeing a profit. Here are some tips for startups on the art of delegation.
1) Surround yourself with a talented and trustworthy team
One of the best things you can do for yourself and your fledgling company is to surround yourself with a team of talented people you can work well with and can trust to do their jobs well. Take time in the recruiting and hiring processes so that you are secure in knowing you have the best person for the job.
It is understood that you are anxious to get on with it, to see your business become a reality, but as the old saying goes, “Haste makes waste.” If you have a great team around you, it will become so much easier to let go and give up many of your tasks to those who can handle them!
2) Delegate based on ability
Although you may get on better with some of your team than others, it doesn’t mean that this is a person you would want to take over a task that they aren’t equipped to handle.
For example, you have just purchased the latest and most innovative digital dictation software on the market and need to have your voice recordings transcribed immediately to text as part of supporting docs for a prospective financier.
While some of the information may be highly sensitive and you’d like to give it to your wife to transcribe, time is of the essence and she only types 30 WPM and not very accurately at that.
However, you’ve also hired your best friend’s wife who types 80 WPM with 98% accuracy, so who should you delegate that work to? Bearing in mind that this lender is waiting on those documents, it would be better to give the work to your friend’s wife. If you can’t trust her, you shouldn’t have hired her! It’s really that simple.
3) Be Specific in your expectations
How many bosses have you worked with in your life that in passing asked you to take on a task? They gave you no instructions, time it was due or any specifics. They simply said for you to “Do this,” or “Run this document to the post office.”
Your boss never told you to send that document overnight, return receipt requested, and when you return with the mail already en route via regular snail mail, you ended up in all kinds of trouble for not reading his mind. You may not realize it, but you will undoubtedly fall prey to the same mistakes with your team if you don’t slow down once in a while to give specifics on what you expect doing.
4) Provide the training necessary for your team to do their jobs
Another area where many startups seem to have trouble is when assuming that someone you’ve hired with plenty of experience will do something the way you envision it being done. Every company has slight variations on the same process and so it is essential that you train your team to do things the way you want them done.
Therefore, when you delegate a task you know it will be done the way in which you expect it to be done or it is a failure to do as asked by the person being delegated to take on the responsibility.
However, going back up to number 1, if you surround yourself with a team that is talented and trustworthy, and you’ve recruited and interviewed thoroughly, you shouldn’t run into slackers as often as when you hurried the recruiting process.
5) Show appreciation for jobs well done
Many times, you will be delegating tasks that you would almost prefer to do yourself but haven’t the time or patience to do them. When you’ve given over a task, especially one that you yourself would dread, take a few moments of your time to show appreciation for a job well done.
No, you don’t need to reward that team member with a two week trip to the Bahamas, but a simple word or two of gratitude goes a very long way in motivating that person to do a good job next time around. From time to time you may want to offer little incentives and rewards, but not often enough for them to be expected.
You are now an accomplished delegator!
If what you are asking your team to do when delegating responsibilities is within the broad scope of their job description, there is no need to go overboard rewarding or thanking them. However, even when an employee is simply doing his or her job and giving you 100% effort, an occasional ‘Thank you’ works wonders.
Remember, you can’t do it all by yourself, so keep your team loyal and delegating will get easier as you learn how to ask for help when help is needed. Once you’ve learned that you’ll be an accomplished delegator!