Running a business is all about juggling balls. As you go on, you’ll find that more balls keep getting thrown into the mix. Trying to keep up with them all is going to result in burnout faster than you expected. But you don’t have to. Forget the social conditioning, the guilt, and the fear of a bad result. There are some tasks you just need to delegate. In this article, we’ll be looking at precisely those moments. We’ll also be looking at the tasks you really shouldn’t delegate and how to delegate more effectively. In the end, you should hopefully understand how to make the best use of your human capital.
When you need to save time
This is a simple one. Delegation is an essential part of time management for a boss. We all have jobs that need to be done but are definitely low on the list of priorities. This might be something you do routinely that’s getting in the way of some essential work. In these cases, delegating is essentially asking for a favor. Make sure that you’re appreciative of any employees taking busy work off your plate. At the same time, make sure you’re choosing someone whose own day won’t be too badly disrupted.
When it requires more focus than you can give
There are other tasks that, while perhaps not a role worthy of a brand new employee, need more focus than you can give to the task. Take a good look at anyone on your team who isn’t being used as productively as they could be. Instead, give them a new title and new skills through things like health and safety training. Voila, now you have a health and safety officer for the business. This is a good method of adding vital new duties to someone who has room for them.
When you want to develop or mentor an employee
Developing your team is a crucial part of being a boss. It makes them happier and easier to retain. It also gives you someone with more skills to utilize. Training courses are effective, but there are times that you could be just as effective yourself. If you have some skills you want to pass on to an employee, delegating them a task that you would normally do is a great way to approach it. This kind of delegation requires a more hands-on approach than usual, but it’s a great mentoring exercise.
When you want to see if they’re ready
If they already have all the training they need to step up, you might still want to ensure they’re ready for it. There’s a difference between having the knowledge and having the ability to take on the responsibility. Delegation is a very handy way of finding the future leaders in your business. It’s your little test to see just how well they can deal with new tasks and taking a step up the ladder. It gives you the chance to not only see how they perform but also how they handle accountability.
When not to delegate
Then, of course, there are times you shouldn’t delegate. If it’s critically important or if it’s one of your core responsibilities, you’re just passing the buck. If it’s something involving personnel, it’s giving them a whole level of access they shouldn’t have. Similarly, never delegate the giving of praise or criticism. It’s a cowardly way to handle your staff and it’s also going to build resentment between people who may normally share an equal footing. Make sure that you’re never using delegation for the jobs you should definitely be doing as a leader.
Keys to more successful delegation
No matter what reason you’re delegating, there are a few rules you need to follow to make it effective. First, be clear in the objectives as well as their context. They need to know not only what they’re doing, but why it’s important. Make sure you’re clear about passing the responsibility and that they’re clearly accepting it. This means you’re avoiding blurred lines of what they should and shouldn’t be doing in their new role. Most importantly, you want to be there to offer support and guidance if they want it, but you shouldn’t be micromanaging. Give them the space to figure it out on their own if they don’t come calling. But make it clear they can ask for help. If you don’t, the fear of failure may compromise them more than anything else.
Delegation is a tool for all kinds of purposes. It can help both you and your employees out. When used for the wrong purpose or in the wrong way, however, it can damage the whole business. Make sure you don’t rush into it and think about why you’re delegating before you do it.