Some small business owners have a tough time delegating work effectively. They’re generally stressed and over-worked. They feel resentful that they have to spend their evenings and weekends working in the business because they think they can’t rely on anyone else to do the work properly.
As a result, they micro-manage their team. They become the source of all knowledge in the business. Work grinds to a halt when they’re not around because no-one knows what to do next.
If this sounds familiar to you, then you need to face the fact that you’re a Control Freak.
And before you start to think your controlling behaviour is testament to your strong work ethic, let me tell you, being a Control Freak is not a badge of honour. You're not leading by example, instilling strong values in your team. You are instead throttling your business and stifling your team’s growth. You need to find a way to get over yourself and start delegating tasks and responsibilities before you find yourself without a business.
If you have ever tried to delegate tasks in the past, it's likely that their quality wasn't good enough and made you want to do it yourself. You told yourself that this just means that you shouldn't delegate. After all, there's no sense in getting someone else to do it if you just have to the work again yourself, right?
Here are three excuses you might be using for not delegating:
- “No-one will do it the way I do it”
- “I’ll spend more time managing the person than I will save, so I might as well do it myself”
- “This process is so complicated, it’s too hard to explain it to someone else”
If you’ve used the excuses, perhaps it’s time to look at some strategies you can use to find success in delegating.
Consider using these delegation strategies:
Let go of 'the way’. You’re too attached to the process. Your business needs positive, timely outcomes. The process is secondary. I understand that this is your livelihood, but give credit where credit’s due: your team are capable, thinking adults.
And if you think that they’re not, then that says more about you than it does about them.
Your team probably will not do the job the way that you do. In fact, they may find a BETTER way to do it. Park your ego and give them what they need to get the job done.
Training is an investment, not a cost. It’s true. Stop thinking of the training as an ‘extra’ piece of work that you have to do. Training your team to do their jobs, so that they contribute real value to your business, should be considered the same as buying a new piece of equipment.
It takes time and money to research, source and setup new computers or software in your business. I imagine that you’re unlikely to say that you won’t buy the computer/software because you’re perfectly capable of using a pencil and a calculator. No, you’ll invest that time and money because YOU HAVE BETTER THINGS TO DO.
Well, the same goes for training your team. Get them to do more and you’ll have more time to do other, more valuable tasks.
Document what you do. I know this is another imposition on your already limited time. But following on from the point above, this is an investment in your business’s future. Be specific about outcomes from the process.
Take a 30,000 foot view to see if there is any double-handling anywhere. Take the time to think about automating repetitive steps. For example, can you eliminate some data entry by using an import feature in a piece of software?
Never assume that people will “just know” that something needs to be done. This is particularly so when you’ve been micro-managing up to this point. They need to learn how to see past the specific instructions that they’re used to receiving, to get to a point of self-autonomy in this new world of delegated authority.
Match aptitude & skills to the task. When identifying who in your team will take on a task, you’ll need to make sure you’re not trying to fit square pegs into round holes. Do not ask the team luddite to start providing IT support to your team.
This will mean you need to start looking objectively at your team and seeing where the potential lies.
Communicate your expectations. The last thing you want to do is to delegate something and find out months later that the work hasn’t been done. Set up regular meetings with your team. Provide them with a template report that they need to complete and present at the regular meeting. Encourage them to ask questions and make sure that you provide them with succinct answers. Set expectations clearly.
Always thank your team for their efforts. Point out the wins. Use failures and mistakes as learning points. Avoid pointing the finger of blame when something inevitably goes wrong. That will cause a regression back to them waiting for you to tell them what to do, for fear of doing the wrong thing. Take responsibility for things you missed telling them, without making them the scapegoat for your lack of documentation.
Instead of being a micromanager, why not try to give some responsibilites over to your team? Let them take care of a few things and see how they do it. You may be surprised at the results. You may find that working with a team and delegating tasks makes your job much easier and the atmosphere at work much better for everyone.
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