Eight Steps To Effective Delegation

One of the many skills required to successfully run a small business is the ability to delegate. For most small business owners, it’s not something that comes naturally. Unfortunately however, if they plan on having any kind of social life, it’s very much a necessity.

There’s also the small matter of innovation to consider. The better a small business owner is at delegating, the more time he has to think about the future direction of his business. And with the economy showing no signs of recovery, the ability to innovate is more important than ever.

Should you find yourself at the helm of a small business and you’d like to have more time to focus on what’s important; here’s how to effectively delegate some of your tasks in eight simple steps.

Write Down Why You Want to Delegate

If you’ve been doing certain tasks yourself for years, it’s going to take some time before you are comfortable passing them onto others. It’s also likely to be pretty stressful, at least initially.

It’s therefore important to write down exactly what you are hoping to gain from delegation. Here are a few of the most common reasons for delegating.

  • Have more time to focus on what’s important to your business.
  • Develop your employees’ skill sets, increasing their value.
  • Make the most efficient use of the resources available to you.

List the Specific Tasks That You Can Delegate

To do list

The first step to unloading some of your work to others is to go through your daily tasks and to be realistic about exactly what you can and cannot delegate. You should be looking for tasks that meet three criteria:

  • They take up a large portion of your time.
  • They can be completed by somebody else in a satisfactory fashion.
  • They are not absolutely critical to your businesses success.

It’s important to stick to these criteria when making your decision. Don’t continue to perform a task just because you’re good at it.

Divide Tasks into Sub Tasks if Necessary

When looking for tasks to delegate, don’t be afraid to divide tasks into smaller sub tasks. For example, if there’s a certain piece of a task that you believe requires your personal expertise, don’t be afraid to do that yourself while delegating the rest. What’s important is that you’re clear about exactly who does what.

Choose the Right Employee/s

Next you’ll need to choose the right employee for the job or jobs. Ideally, you will want somebody who can personally benefit from performing the task. Perhaps they have an interest in it, or perhaps they need the experience.

Don’t forget the small matter of time. If somebody’s overworked as it is, you’re obviously going to have to find somebody else.

Evaluate the Need for Coaching

Once you’ve chosen somebody for the job, you’re then going to have to have an honest discussion with them about their current skill set. Do they already know how to perform the task or will you have to coach them?

For delegation to work, you need to be able to give the employee full ownership of the task. In other words, they can’t be running to you for assistance every few minutes. The initial coaching stage is therefore vital.

Agree on a Specific Deadline


The biggest mistake that you can make when delegating a task to somebody is failing to set a deadline. Don’t try to coddle the person by telling them to fit in the task whenever they have time.

Choose a specific and realistic deadline. Be very clear about the importance of the task being completed within this timeframe.

Discuss How the Task Should be Monitored

If the task that you are delegating is even remotely complex, it’s vital that you monitor its progress at regular intervals. This is important both for feedback purposes and for your own peace of mind.

Ask your employee about how they would like the task to be monitored. It’s important for you to find a strategy that you are both happy with.

Back Off

Finally, we have the hardest part of delegating, resisting the urge to micro-manage. If delegation is to be effective, you need to be willing to back off and allow your chosen employee to get on with things.

If you’re going to keep checking up on him, you might as well just do the task yourself. Constant checkups will also prevent your employee from gaining confidence in his/her new role.

And anyway, don’t you have some innovating to do?

Featured images:
  •  License: Royalty Free or iStock source: http://www.andertoons.com/font/cartoon/6556/its-a-bold-move-i-like-it-way-better-than-hendersons-italics/
  •  License: Creative Commons image source
  •  License: Creative Commons image source

This post was authored by Adrian Matthews; he owns a well recognized textile manufacturing company and plans to enter the field of prototype manufacturing. He has a keen vision for his company and as a hobby, he often likes to share tips for running a business efficiently.

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