In today's busy world many of us find ourselves too busy to get everything done that we want to do, whether you are a busy parent, a small business owner, or the CEO of a large corporation. Delegation, the process of using a team of people to help you accomplish tasks, can be a valuable key in getting things done and a great tool for empowering others.
Here are a few keys that I have found over the years that have been of help. I will say that I am still learning and growing regarding this and many other things in life and work and I am constantly trying to improve. These points are a mixture of resources I have used in the past plus some personal experience.
- Identify what to delegate to others. Look at the tasks that you are currently doing and identify which of those you MUST do verses things that someone else COULD do. If you are a parent, delegate house cleaning and chores to the kids, but you better take care of reconciling the checkbook :). If you are a business owner you may want to meet with community leaders, the media and prospective large clients. Other tasks like accounting and bookkeeping or secretarial tasks and answering the phone could be done by someone else. Things like janitorial services, searching for a new office location or legal work could be delegated to an outside professional or company. If you are a small business, using a contractor or temp employee can be of help. Some buildings will lease you an office with shared resources like a receptionist, secretarial pool and a copy room so although you are a smaller company, you can take advantage of getting help at a reduced cost.
- Identify who to delegate to. Be honest with yourself regarding your strengths and know the strengths of those around you. One quick side note, when you are hiring , hire to your weakness so that those on your team compliment your skills. Sometimes a team member has a potential that you will need to develop through training, some on your team are ready right now to take over tasks that will immediately free you up. Just remember that someone will always do better working in area of they are naturally strong in. Also delegation of extremely important tasks should be left to those employees or team members that are the most loyal and faithful to you and your organization.
- Release and Empower. To be a successful delegator, you must release people to do the work in a way that they feel empowered to succeed. If you micro-manage all the tasks that you assign to others, you defeat the purpose of delegating in the first place. If there is training required, investing that time up front will really pay off in the future. The response from some of us that feel overwhelmed and too busy is, "I'll just do it myself, it's faster". While that may be true, it is a short term fix to your time management and efficiency issues. People may not be as good at a task as you are, but do you want to keep doing it? It will take some time for people take over a task with complete success and they will make some mistakes along the way. Create an environment where people will not be afraid to take risks and put themselves out there a little. In the long run you will have a much more creative, dynamic team. It is super rewarding to empower others and watch them develop and grow all the while helping you to be more successful - it is what's called a "win-win".
- "Trusting is good, checking is better". One of our church board members who is also a great friend taught me this saying many years ago. Of course trust is a valuable part of releasing people to take on tasks as a part of delegation, but it doesn't mean that we are completely "hands off". There is a difference between micro-managing someone and monitoring them as a part of being a good manager. We should check on a person's progress, quality of work, time spent on task and other measures of performance from time to time. We want to make sure that the work is getting done in the way we expect and that the person is not overwhelmed by the task. If you aren't aware, then you cannot provide coaching or additional training to help make your team member, you and your organization successful. You can accomplish this by setting up simple progress reports for the person to fill out that can be sent through email and/or by setting up regular "one on one" meetings over coffee. Even is the person is working at a different location, making face to face meetings impractical, you can use technology like "Skype" to do a meeting over the internet. Find a method that is appropriate in your setting.
Most of us have talented people around us that can be of great help and who would be fulfilled and love the opportunity to take on a new challenge. Whether it is church volunteers, paid employees, or outside professionals we can all accomplish more with some help.