As an owner of a small business, it’s probably fair to say you never truly switch off from work. Those long hours, being involved in growing every aspect of the business stay with you, and even when the business grows, handing over such tasks, even to a trusted colleague, doesn’t always comes easily. In fact, research by Opus Energy found 70 per cent of business owners prefer to do everything themselves, rather than use effective delegation skills, which just isn’t healthy.
Equally, when something goes ever so slightly wrong, your first instinct is to grab back the reins and resume control of the situation. But ask yourself this, how many times have you taken on too much yourself and made mistakes as a result?
Try not to be a hero – don’t even think of going there!
We’re all human and mistakes happen. In my business we currently employ 16 people, and I admit that at times I’ve probably struggled to use effective delegation when it comes to tasks I know my team were more than capable of taking on.
Every business gets to a stage where effective delegation is essential, or you seriously risk burnout. In fact, the same research from Opus Energy found that 74 percent of business owners feel their relationships with their partner, friends or family have been affected by working long hours. So there’s definitely an art to effective delegation, but if you’re in the position where you’re working too many hours and need to hand some work off to your team, then here are some considerations:
(1) Don’t let go completely and leave your employees to sink or swim
Delegating your tasks isn’t an on/off switch, think of it more as a dimmer. You need to gradually hand over the ownership of the processes and tools to the employee that you are entrusting. Walk them through how you normally go about completing the action and explain exactly the responsibilities that they are taking on. Encourage them to ask questions if they are uncertain about any aspect of what you want them to do. You can’t just dump a workload onto someone’s desk and expect it done. Whilst some employees will thrive under the extra responsibility, others will freeze, and you’d be lucky if you find an employee that didn’t flounder at some stage.
(2) Always make sure there’s a feedback loop
Once the employee has taken the plunge with their newly found responsibility, don’t cut communication and assume that your job is done. Although the emphasis is now on the employee to finish the task, it is still your company and you are accountable. It pays to schedule regular times to catch up and discuss the action, how the employee is finding their new found empowerment and if there is anything that needs to be adjusted.
Showing a personal interest in your employees may also motivate them further. You will need to decide on the degree of control that you need to establish in this situation, inexperienced members of the team will need tighter control, whereas more experienced employees may be more creative if the reins are looser.
(3) Stop thinking this “effective delegation thing” is about you
Delegating your workload isn’t about you and freeing up your time. It is about enhancing your business and also enhancing the skill set of your employees. Having the ability to make decisions and see them through allows your staff to feel empowered in their roles, which can, in turn, boost their confidence. Employees only act as empowered as their employers make them feel, so take a step back and realise that this is beneficial for your business.
At the end of the day, your business is always going to be your ‘baby’. But as a business owner and leader, it is vital for you to make the time to be able to think about solutions to the challenges you face as a business. Doing absolutely everything yourself isn’t good for anyone, especially you, but by trusting and supporting your team as they take over some of your tasks, you are helping them develop by enriching their skill set, which can only be good for the business as a whole.