Most entrepreneurs spend less than 30% of their time focusing on their natural talents. In fact, by the time they’ve launched a business, it often seems entrepreneurs are doing everything but the one thing they went into business for in the first place. Don’t let this happen to you.
There are only 24 hours in the day. The problem with doing it all is that you’ll eventually run out of time and energy, then you’re stuck! How can you take your business to the next level if you’re doing it all yourself? It’s unrealistic.
There’s a ceiling you hit—a plateau. Then things start to break down: your health suffers, relationships deteriorate, you’re no longer getting back to your customers in a timely manner, there’s no free time—you get the picture. Is it easy or difficult to focus and be creative when you’re depleted of energy and burnt out? Difficult – right? When you delegate the things you loathe doing, those tasks that are so painful you end up putting them off, or those areas that are not your expertise—you get to concentrate on doing what’re great at. In addition, you free up your time so that you increase productivity and enjoy life more.
So why is delegating routine tasks and unwanted projects so difficult for most people?
Most are afraid to give up control or reluctant to spend the money to pay for help. Others—maybe you—have simply fallen into the habit of doing everything themselves. “It’s too time-consuming to explain it to someone,” you say. “I can do it more quickly and better myself anyway.” But can you?
And, what about the cost? This is a hurdle that’s difficult for most. If I can do it better than an assistant, why should I pay them? Simply put, the goal is to free your time to focus on bigger and better things. Get past this lifestyle limiter. It’s important to take even small steps towards getting others to help. You need to focus on those activities that generate better results and increase your revenue.
Here are seven steps to delegate successfully:
1. Decide what to delegate. Make a list of everything you do on a daily, weekly or monthly basis. Go through the list and determine what is essential for you to keep and what can be given away. Once your list is complete, look at it again. Ask yourself if there are any remaining tasks that someone else could do better, as well, or good enough? List any tasks you’re not good at, don’t enjoy, or find detrimental to your time and energy. Think about the repetitive tasks you do. Would it save you time in the long run to teach someone else how to do those tasks?
2. Create a plan. In order for delegation to be effective, you need to communicate exactly what you want the individual to do. Determine what the final outcome should be.
Whether you delegate the whole task or specific results, de-emphasize the actual procedure. A fresh viewpoint from the individual that you delegate to may actually improve the method you’ve been using. In many cases, the job is better in the hands of someone else.
3. Select the right person. The key to finding the right person is to determine what skills are required. What do you really want someone to do for you? Look at the tasks that need to be performed. If you do not have the resources within your organization, ask people you know and trust for referrals or potential leads.
4. Establish results and include accountability. To determine what the end result should be, start at the end. Picture what you want to be holding when those final deliverables are handed to you. You need to communicate those expectations. All expectations need to be reasonable, clear and measurable. For example, “complete a minimum of 25 sales calls per week” as opposed to “complete sales calls”.
Accountability is not a bad word. There have to consequences if the results you need are not being met. Create specific goals or outcomes that need to be accomplished and communicate those expectations. Have consequences for results not being accomplished.
5. Stay in the loop. Delegate, don’t abdicate. Dumping jobs onto others and then disappearing is not delegation. Set specific times to check in and look at what they’re doing. You can set a regular appointment time, such as Tuesday at 2pm, when you sit for 15 minutes to an hour and review regular duties, milestones and answer questions. Or consider setting a check in point at a specific point in the process. For example, you might say, “after you’ve called all 40 prospects, come see me so we can discuss the feedback you’ve been getting from them.”
Checking in allows you to stay in the loop, fix problems as they arise, educate and develop the people working with you while being informed.
6. Avoid reverse delegation. You may feel tempted to “take it back” if the individual (in this case, an employee) is unsure or struggling with the task. If you take back a delegated task, that individual loses the opportunity to learn and grow. Collaborate on alternative solutions to see the task to completion while the individual maintains responsibility.
7. Acknowledgement. Give credit and recognition for a job well done. If the person (again, in this case, your employee) is unsuccessful, take responsibility. Perhaps the individual has not developed his or her skills fully enough to accomplish the task. Learn from the experience so you can delegate more effectively the next time.
This week identify the one task or activity that you’ll delegate. Just one! And when you’re tempted to take it back (remember to avoid reverse delegation)—hang on through the discomfort. Soon you’ll be questioning why you didn’t delegate that task long ago and start building you delegation muscle.
Delegation is the key to leveraging your time and energy. By successfully delegating, you’re able to focus on those activities that will have the biggest impact on your business and its bottom line while freeing you up to enjoy other areas of your life too.
Managing Partner of The Creative Concepts Group