The Art of Delegating
To grow a business beyond a certain point, there’s a bridge every entrepreneur must cross. You must transition from “doing” to “leading,” which means stepping back from day-to-day operations in order to oversee it. In other words, you must learn to work “on” the business, not “in” the business.
Let’s go back in time to when you first formed your company. Of course you were involved in every aspect of it. But as your firm grew, you needed help to get things done. So you began hiring employees, and delegating tasks and (hopefully) responsibility.
Learning to delegate is an ongoing journey. Half the battle is hiring people who you feel comfortable delegating to. The other half is creating infallible work processes, and defining the amount of risk you are willing take and deciding what to delegate.
Some of this comes down to good ol’ communication. In many small businesses, employees wear many hats. As a result, they’re not always sure what their most important job is. It’s the boss’s responsibility to tell them…
• What their responsibilities/tasks are, and of them, what the priority is.
• What doing a good job looks like. Don’t expect workers to instinctively know; it’s up to you to define and describe it.
• Where each worker stands in terms of job performance. How can you improve without feedback?
Even if you haven’t implemented formal job descriptions and performance reviews—and many small businesses don’t–you can still communicate this information to employees.
But what if you don’t have the right people in place? What if you aren’t comfortable delegating to them? Well, there are several things you can do.
You can provide training designed to get their skills up to par. Not likely? Then move them into a less demanding position. Some employees don’t want the responsibility of thinking; they want to work on autopilot. Perhaps there’s a place for worker bees in your organization?
But if there isn’t, and nothing is working, you may have to take that difficult step of replacing them with people who eagerly accept responsibility. That takes courage. That’s leadership at its toughest. Peer boards give support and insight to take the necessary steps.
Until you get your business to the point where it almost runs itself, you won’t be able to disengage long enough to provide that essential vision. And once you reach that point, you’ll find it’s true: a little leadership goes a long way.