Most business owners are too busy. It seems we just can’t help ourselves – there’s always something new and exciting we want to explore.
Despite that passion, though, there’s a real need for us to slow down. Long hours and rising stress levels mean we’re usually teetering on the edge of burnout.
Outsourcing is a common solution, but it’s one that comes with many questions and concerns. When you’re so used to managing everything yourself, the thought of getting help can be daunting.
With a good amount of preparation and a well-thought process, delegating doesn’t have to feel so scary.
In this post, we’ll walk you through the 9 steps you need to take to learn how to delegate effectively.
How to delegate
1. Recognise the benefits
The very first step you can take towards being an effective delegator is to really understand the benefits. It’s about so much more than just saving time.
When we get good at delegating, we’re welcoming:
- Faster progress
- New opportunities
- More headspace
- Added flexibility
- A broader range of skills
Have you ever found yourself thinking any of the following things?
“I could do a much better job with this if only I had more time” or
“I have some really exciting ideas but I’ve just got too much else on my mind” or even
“I’d love to give X a try but I just don’t have the skills to do it justice.”
Learn how to delegate effectively and you’ll be able to solve all those problems, and more.
2. Adjust your mindset
First, though, you need to work on your mindset. Because effective delegation takes trust, and if you’re not ready to let go, you’ll be getting in your own way.
Now, we understand that you’re going to find this one difficult. So far, it’s been just you and your business. A happy little duo with no one else interfering. And that’s why you love it so much – the independence, autonomy, creative freedom.
But if you ever want to experience those benefits we talked about in point 1, you need to learn to let go.
Recognise that your business is separate from you. It can still survive and thrive when you’re not doing everything yourself.
In fact, its future depends on your ability to take a step back, see the bigger picture, and find the clarity you need to make strategic decisions.
Can you really keep going the way things are?
If you find the right people (or person) and manage them well, you’ll find that trust comes more easily and your concerns will soon disappear.
3. Assess your own strengths and weaknesses
Start making a delegation plan sooner, rather than later.
You’ll make a more sensible and considered decision when you’re not doing it from a point of stress.
To get started, assess your own strengths and weaknesses. Where are the gaps? What type of people/skills will be complementary?
You’re a business owner, so you’re obviously the type of person who has the drive and desire to learn new things. But there has to come a point where you draw the line, at least for a while.
It’s okay to admit that you don’t have any space in your life to learn something new right now.
So what areas do you want to work on? Which skills do you want to improve, and which things are you happy to let go of and leave to someone else?
And remember: outsource before overwhelm and you’ll do a much better job. Start making that list now.
4. Identify your priorities
With an idea of where your own strengths and weaknesses lie, start to think about your priorities. What’s time sensitive? What deadlines are you working to? Which are the things that will have a direct impact on your bottom line?
We recommend a simple exercise called the Eisenhower Matrix. It can help you gain perspective when your to-do list seems to be spiralling out of control.
Which tasks would sit in your ‘delegate’ box?
5. Find the right people
Finding someone with the right skills, attitude, and approach is key. Beyond that, you’ll also need to consider things like location, availability, and cost.
One of the key benefits of outsourcing instead of hiring an employee is that you get to spread the work.
Where one person might not be the right fit for every task on your to-do list, outsourcing to service providers gives you more flexibility. It means you can find the right person for every job and take advantage of a broader skill set.
With that in mind, don’t just think about your immediate needs, consider the future, too. Might you need support in several different areas?
By opting for support from a flexible service like The Assistant Quarters, you can streamline the process of finding the right people.
Our founder Claire has built a team of associates that all share the same values and work ethic. Each team member specialises in something different, so as your needs grow or change over time, you can still rely on us to back you up.
Find out more about our monthly virtual support packages.
6. Provide clear instructions
Once you start to hand off work to your new support person, clear communication is critical.
As a team on the receiving end of briefs and delegation emails, we’ve seen firsthand how a simple case of miscommunication can cause issues.
It’s best to never make assumptions. If you’re paying by the hour and you want to keep a task low-cost, say so. If you want the work to be presented in a certain style or format, give examples or explain clearly.
Always give the person you’re delegating to an opportunity to ask questions before they begin.
For big jobs with multiple steps and/or a team, a project management tool like Trello or Asana will put you in control. Use it to plan projects, share documents, collaborate, monitor progress, and give/get feedback.
7. Create training resources
One thing you can do to increase the success of a handover is to create training materials.
Videos, in particular, can help a trainee pick things up much faster. They also give the trainee an option to go back over the instructions in their own time and at their own pace.
Loom is a piece of free screen and video recording software that you can use to give demonstrations of processes or systems.
When you record something like this, remember not to use the person’s name. That way, you can reuse it in the future when you’re training someone else.
If you’re creating training documents, use screenshots and images where possible to help illustrate your points.
8. Trust during, review after
If you’ve prepared well and given clear instructions, you should feel comfortable leaving your support person to get on with the job. No one likes to be micro-managed, and regular interruptions can hinder progress.
The more trust you’re able to give, the stronger the relationship should become and the better results you’ll see.
By giving the whole task to one person, you’ll empower them to take full responsibility for it.
And if you let them do it their way instead of giving step-by-step instructions, you might even be surprised by the efficiencies they find. As long as the end result is clear, you can afford to be flexible about the approach.
For bigger projects or complicated tasks, set-up a non-intrusive tracking system that will allow you to check on progress without interrupting the flow of work.
9. Make time for two-way feedback
Finally, seize the opportunity to give and get feedback.
It’s unrealistic to expect things to be perfect from day one, and while that might not be anyone’s fault, both parties will need to work together to smooth things out.
When providing negative feedback, be encouraging and find positive things to talk about as well as giving advice on how they could improve.
Most of us find conversations like this awkward, but if you bite the bullet and get it over with, you’ll both feel better in the long run.
Make sure to ask for feedback too. Could you do anything to make it easier? How did they feel about the way the project was managed?
Key takeaways for effective delegation
Effective delegation isn’t something you’ll be able to achieve overnight. It’s a process, and it takes effort, patience, and constant tweaking to get right.
Once you find the sweet spot, though, you’ll reap the benefits.
One of the best things you can do for your business is to build a strong and supportive team. None of us can do it all, and the sooner we recognise that, the sooner we’ll be on the path towards finding balance.
To get started:
- Identify the benefits
- Work on your mindset
- Assess your own skills
- Find the right person
Once you’re ready to go:
- Be clear and direct with your instructions
- Create training videos and documents
- Avoid micro-managing
- Give and get feedback
Ready to start delegating?
The Assistant Quarters is a team of virtual assistants and social media specialists. With a wide range of skills and a flexible approach, we make it easy for you to get the support you need, as and when you need it.
Call us on 0208 064 1969 or book in for a discovery call to chat about your options.
Prefer email? Ours is firstname.lastname@example.org