Effective Delegation: Tips for Small Business Owners
The number of people choosing to set up a business in the UK has risen dramatically in recent years and continues to do so, despite a tumultuous political climate. A recent survey by SME Loans found 64% of Britain’s workforce would like to start their own business. However, the majority of entrepreneurs say they struggle to achieve a healthy work-life balance. 30% of small business owners reported working over 50 hours per week, while 20% admitted they regularly worked more than 60 hours.
Is it inevitable that running a business will take over your life? Or is there a way to manage time more effectively and achieve business goals while maintaining a healthy work-life balance? Many entrepreneurs struggle to master the art of delegation because they are reluctant to release control of their dream. If this sounds like you, there are steps you can take to overcome these barriers to effective delegation. In doing so, you will make you and your business healthier.
Decide Which Tasks You Want to Delegate
Are there some tasks you really find a burden and would gladly hand on to someone else? Perhaps there is a set of regular jobs that do not require your level of expertise or business knowledge? Delegating these tasks to a more junior member of the team will free up time for you to focus on growing your business at a higher level.
It’s also important to identify the tasks you absolutely will not trust anyone else to do. As the business owner, it’s your prerogative to cherry-pick what you want to do and what you’re prepared to pay someone else to take on. It’s not necessarily the simplest or the least interesting jobs that you should delegate, though. You’re the one with the vision and you have more knowledge about your business than anyone. However, one person cannot possibly have expert knowledge in all business specialisms. You and your business may benefit if you identify a better-qualified person to take on tasks that fall outside your area of expertise.
Hire People You Can Trust
If you’ve built your empire from scratch, it can be tough to let go and entrust even small jobs to someone else. You’ll have to work hard to change your mindset from its default “I can do it all” status. If you hire the right people, you’ll find it easier to pass some tasks on to them, allowing you to focus on making your vision a reality.
Hire people whose skill sets align with your short, medium and long-term business goals. Consider how they will fit with your existing team and the way you work. If you’ve decided which tasks you are willing to delegate, you’ll find it easier to identify job roles and suitable candidates because you have clear objectives.
As your business grows, you won’t be able to do everything yourself. You can’t respond to every customer call directly or undertake all the administrative tasks running a business entails. A well-chosen virtual personal assistant has the necessary skills and experience to manage all these tasks. You could delegate call handling, customer support, message taking and any other tasks you no longer have time for, safe in the knowledge your customers are handled by a professional providing excellent service. If you’re not quite ready for a new team member, a professional business phone system can manage customer calls and deliver a custom welcome message. Its a good first step to delegating such tasks.
Clarify Your Expectations
To avoid disappointment and give your employees a fair opportunity to shine, make sure you set clear expectations. If you delegate a task and provide poor instructions, you’re unlikely to see the results you were hoping for. Your employee’s morale will also take a hit when they realise you’re not happy with their work.
Don’t assume everyone will approach a task in the same way you have for years — or that they have the same standards. Your employees can only meet your expectations if they understand what they are. When delegating a task, take the time to explain what you expect done, what resources and amount of time needed for the job and the outcomes you expect the employee to achieve. Ideally, instructions should be provided in writing and backed up with a verbal explanation — at least the first time an individual attempts a task.
Document Business Process and Systems
If the only person who knows how everything works in your business is you, disaster will strike at some point. So, if you’re keen to master the art of delegation and free up time for the tasks you prize most, you must have transparent and accessible processes and systems in place. This way, the relevant personnel can keep the business running smoothly.
Well-documented processes will also prevent you from having to retrain people constantly. They will stop you winding up with the feeling “I might as well just do it myself” — bringing you back to square one. Without adequate documentation, if you delegate a task and spend time bringing an employee up to speed, then they leave the company, you’re stuck having to repeat the process.
Give Praise and Acknowledgement for Good Work
So, you’ve nervously handed over a task you’ve been managing solo for years. You know no-one will achieve the same results you and you’ve already braced yourself for disappointment. Then Joe Bloggs plays a blinder and completes the task in record time — better than you ever did.
Don’t let your feathers get ruffled.
This is what you wanted; this is effective delegation. Make sure you praise Joe on a job well done and convey how important this task and his work is to you and the success of your business. If he feels valued and appreciated, Joe is much more likely to be motivated to keep up the good work. As a result, you can delegate confidently, knowing your expectations will be met and you can focus on leading the business to success.
Why Is Delegation so Important for Small Business Owners?
Learning to delegate and loosen your hands on the reigns will be no mean feat for many entrepreneurs. So why should you bother? Even if you’re managing on your own now, when your business achieves the success you dream of, you will need to start trusting others to share the workload. Effective delegation allows you to focus on the tasks only you can do, that is, developing a vision for your company and growing the business. It also helps you to stay healthy by supporting a good work-life balance. Your business is more likely to succeed with a carefully selected team of experts on board than with one captain trying to run the ship solo.