Listen. Delegation is hard. We’ve been there. We’ve done – and not done – that. And let us tell you: For all our kicking and screaming, ‘I can do it myself!,’ we have now fully become the choir that preaches that delegation is the cost of our sanity and the lynchpin to the survival of businesses everywhere.
In today’s push-button-get-banana world, we constantly seek to address every alarmingly red ticker notification and accompanying PING!
Is it an email? Slack? A text? A Facebook message? A calendar invite or reminder?
If you respond immediately, you’ll be instantaneously satisfied and get a rush of dopamine. Our response teeters ever-so-precariously on Pavlovian; it’s almost hypnotic.
But what if you just wait to respond, taking time to instead focus on impact and strategy? So you table the task, promising to return when you have time to respond more thoughtfully.
Wait. What was I just doing?
And therein lies the rub: Regardless of whether you respond now or later, that task has already set up shop – rent-free – in your psyche and has disrupted your brain waves. PING: 1 YOU: 0
OOF. We don’t like those odds.
So what can you do? Or, better yet, ask yourself what can you not do? And to answer that, the first step is to commit to wanting to empower your team.
1. Identify what you should – and shouldn't – delegate.
The most important outcome of delegation is giving you the time and space to focus on doing what only you can do. The 80/20 rule says that 80 percent of your results come from 20 percent of your efforts, so effective time management suggests that you spend 20 percent on the task(s) that will yield the greatest results.
BONUS: With that in mind and to help you get started on the right foot, we’ve created a Delegation Worksheet to help you map out the various things you do each day so you can determine what you keep and what you hand off.
2. Identify the people willing and able to take on more.
This is arguably one of the most mission-critical steps because sure, you can tell someone to return a phone call or order toner but can you delegate important tasks to them? And more importantly, how do you know if you’re delegating the right tasks to the right person?
ENTER: The 70-percent rule. This rule – seems like we have a lot of number rules, huh? – says that if the person you’d like to perform the task is able to do it at least 70 percent as well as you can, you should delegate.
3. Communicate. Communicate. Communicate.
A recent survey found that 38 percent of respondents named communication as their key issue. Calls, texts, and voicemails work fine for casual conversations but to emphasize a deadline or celebrate an accomplishment, try to catering communication to the style(s) each employee prefers to help them stay connected in the manner that best suits – and motivates – them. As we’ve mentioned before, some may prefer more video conferencing while others may prefer written communication – and recognizing those individual preferences will go a long way to let them know you care.
4. Give a wide berth.
This is where things can feel vulnerable and maybe even scary. This step is essential, but also the most challenging. From this point on, it’s imperative to have faith in your delegation process and people. So while it may be hard to let someone else take the reins, fear not! Because if you committed to the first three steps, you and your team should be primed for this very moment.
Training wheels: OFF
This is when you fill the space you’ve given with trust, turning tasks over to your employees once they exhibit consistently sound decision-making and reliability.
5. Celebrate wins, big and small.
Not every accomplishment on this journey will warrant ticker tape and a parade. Some wins will be small – maybe even imperceptible to the untrained eye – but a win is a win and merits recognition. And thankfully, even the smallest gesture – ‘Great job!’ – can go a long way in motivating your team. Similarly, never underestimate the power and impact of manners. ’Please’ and ‘thank you’ still go a long, long way.
And listen. We’re not trying to sugar-coat anything so we’d be remiss if we didn’t mention those times – may they be few and far between – when things don’t quite go as expected. It happens. But do you know what mistakes are? Diamond-in-the-rough opportunities to continue building trust through open, honest communication and repeated efforts. There’s no winning-and-losing here; just winning-and-learning.
Delegation isn’t simply a way of unloading your responsibilities; it’s how business owners and leaders can benefit from the powerful, multiplying effects of entrusting others to do that for which they were hired. As you delegate, you not only free yourself from a busyness mountain of your own creation, but you also, in turn, develop the kind of employees and leaders that allow you, them and your business to grow.
Are you thinking of working with a Virtual Assistant but not sure what type of things they can do for you? Download this list of the top 25 things we see clients delegate to a Virtual Assistant.