Work is piling up, your sleep is suffering, and wish you had just a few more hours in the day. Sound familiar? That right there is a symptom of your entrepreneurial spirit mixed in with a desire to do everything on your own, a common trait among startup owners. However, unless scientists come up with a way for you to clone yourself, something will need to give.
You cannot keep up your busy pace if you hope to scale your operations and enjoy the success you’re reaching for. That’s right—a healthy work/life balance is important and, it turns out, is very good for business.
What you need is an assistant, or maybe even a team. But don’t just delegate to anyone and in any such manner. To get more done in less time while leaving time for everything that else that matters most, here are the ways to delegate like the boss you were born to be.
Don’t Recruit. Build Relationships
Many entrepreneurs who shun delegation have had at least one bad experience handing off tasks in the past. If this was the case, was it because you didn’t know the person you delegated to that well?
If you want the job done correctly – whatever the task happens to be – find a person you trust and develop a business relationship. That means that there is trust on both sides and that you know at least something about them, and they know a thing or two about you. Establishing this trust might require a phone call or Skype chat if the outsourcer is virtual, or a sit-down face-to-face if the person is local. Only when you feel confident that the person is ideal for the job at hand should you begin delegating responsibilities.
Delegate with Purpose
A good delegator doesn’t hand out tasks indiscriminately like a card dealer. Instead, it’s important to hand the right task to the ideal person for the job. Each person comes equipped with a separate set of experiences and skills. Find out what those skills are, and delegate tasks based each person’s know-how and ability to do a quality job. For example, a white paper should be given to the person with content marketing experience and knowledge; not the person with PR skills who would be better suited heading up the next meet-and-greet video marketing campaign.
Give Team Members Authority
Some tasks you delegate may hold extra importance, such as a presentation intended to entice angel investors. Give your team member added authority and tell the rest of your team that they are to support the project as necessary. This takes you out of the mix completely, as long as the person heading the project checks in and gives you regular updates.
Explain Thoroughly for Best Results
Most delegation mistakes are caused, not by incompetence or apathy, but because the instructions were not clear, to begin with. Many entrepreneurs think – if I have to explain the project in that much detail, I might as well do the job myself. However, providing the necessary details doesn’t mean the same thing for every project or every outsourcer.
For example, if the person has the skills and experience to get the job done, and has exhibited an ability to work independently, you might get away with minimal instruction. Letting the person figure things out on their own might give you surprising results, in that they may come up with something you wouldn’t have considered otherwise, like an alternate solution to a common problem or a more efficient way of doing certain tasks.
On the other hand, if the person has the skills, but seems to always require some help, going all out on the instructions might be the order of the day. Show the person why the task is being completed, what tools you normally use to complete them, and various pointers you use to do a quality job. It might take the person shadowing you once or twice with some complex projects, and regular reports are sometimes necessary to ensure your outsourcers are on the right track.
Get Regular Reports
Even those employees who have the skills and a sense of independence should be checked up on now and again. Choose a schedule and be consistent to gather reports from your outsourcers to determine how the various tasks are coming along. A weekly meeting is an excellent way to keep your delegated responsibilities on track and to help out wherever is needed. Getting your outsourcers together can help them learn from one another, making your operation far more efficient going forward.
Use the Right Tools
Email is an inefficient way to delegate and check-in with your team. Instead, Google Docs will allow you to collaborate with your outsourcers across any device. Basecamp can rally everyone together on a common platform, and Slack provides instant communication wherever any of you happens to be.
Give Detailed Feedback
Telling an outsourcer that you are satisfied doesn’t say much, and can lead to a misunderstanding down the line. Instead, tell the person why you are satisfied with the job well done. If you are displeased, try to find positive aspects of the job you can mention before you go into what could be improved. Negative feedback takes finesse, particularly if you hope to work with that individual again.
Force Yourself and Delegate Now
The time to delegate is the moment you find you have a ton of work on your plate. Don’t wait until you’re burned out. By that point, it will be too late. You’ll be frustrated trying to explain the various tasks, and that’s a situation ripe for mistakes.
Instead, give yourself a deadline to delegate tasks and stick to it. Make a list of the jobs you don’t like to do or that you feel someone with more expertise could do better, and start divvying those roles out. If you don’t know what to delegate, make a list of all the tasks you complete on any given day. Then, start small. Take the task that involves the least responsibility and skill, and hand it out. Then, be the risk taker you are, and go up the list. Soon, you’ll have more time, and more freedom, to achieve – and enjoy – that sweet, sweet success.