— January 18, 2019
As an entrepreneur, many of us have built our businesses following the mantra: “If you want it done right, do it yourself.” While this mentality is typically effective in the beginning stages of building a business, it can actually be detrimental as entrepreneurs look to grow and scale up their businesses.
As a business owner, I know firsthand how difficult it can be to delegate any task, even a small one. In the early stages of business, we’re used to rolling up our sleeves and wearing many different hats. But as your team grows, you’ll soon realize that trying to manage everything yourself is unsustainable and will keep your team from reaching its full potential.
One of the biggest reasons why business leaders don’t effectively delegate tasks is because it requires a lot of upfront work, especially in training and educating your employees. However, the resulting benefits of proper training will have a lasting positive impact on your business. First, doing the work yourself is likely not the best use of your time. Second, and more importantly, by passing on responsibilities to your employees, you help to develop their trust and confidence. Over time, your team will continue to learn from experience and cultivate a strong set of skills.
Google discovered that who is on a team matters far less than how team members interact with one another and structure their work. High performing teams feel psychologically safe with one another, have high levels of dependability, structure and clarity, and individually feel that their work is personally meaningful and impactful.
As a leader, it is your responsibility to empower your managers and employees to create this dynamic within your company. That is where effective and meaningful delegation comes in. It is essential to not only learn how to better delegate your own responsibilities, but also to build up your management team and teach them how to be better leaders for their respective teams.
Delegation 101 – Successful Tips for Delegation
Use the SMART method to articulate outcomes to your team. One of the most frustrating things for employees is working with unclear or undefined goals. The “SMART” method of goal setting is an easy way to avoid this problem. By setting specific, measurable, agreed-upon, realistic and time-bound objectives, you will set tangible and achievable goals for both you and your team. For instance, instead of saying, “we need a marketing strategy for the new fall collection,” you should instead tell your team, “we have $ 50,000 to spend on a marketing campaign that needs to generate $ 2 million in sales for the fall collection during the month of August.”
Define accountability, not specific tasks. Micromanaging takes away autonomy from employees and can shut out important dialogue that could potentially foster new ideas and valuable feedback. Instead of monitoring each and every task, focus on defining accountability: who will be responsible for what outcome, and what are the criteria to make this a successful project? Outlining accountability versus micromanaging will result in more empowered, motivated and thoughtful employees.
Avoid “upward delegation.” If someone on your team faces an obstacle in his or her work, don’t allow that person to shift responsibility or decision-making back to you. Instead, use it as a learning opportunity to teach your employee a new skill. Challenge him or her by asking thoughtful questions rather than simply providing answers. Examples of these types of questions include, “How would you tackle this problem? Have you thought about X instead of Y? What are the options that we have? What are the pros and cons associated with these options?” This method trains employees to think critically and solve problems themselves.
Set deadlines and maintain follow up. As a leader, if you delegate tasks but fail to properly follow up, you are only doing half your job. In order to ensure a project stays on track, it is imperative to set timelines from the beginning along with a schedule of checkpoints along the way. Most importantly, set aside time to review your team’s work and ensure it is completed to your standards. By accepting subpar or partially completed work, your employees won’t learn to do their jobs properly. What’s more, this will set a bad precedent and you will end up creating additional work for yourself by having to continuously fix mistakes.
Create a feedback loop that goes in both directions. When team members do well, offer public recognition and praise of their work. This simple act helps to build self-confidence and trust among your employees. Likewise, when necessary, don’t be afraid to offer constructive criticism with tangible ways in which team members can progress. Also, it is vitally important to set up a system that allows team members to provide feedback to you. This is your chance to understand how you can better improve your management style.
Invest in Your Managers to Unlock Their Full Potential
As the head of your company, you are responsible for managing your managers. With that, you must be able to identify the characteristics that define good managers, and be willing to spend the time and resources to cultivate good managers into great ones.
It is extremely rare to find naturally great managers; however, with coaching and training, you can develop them. Great managers have more than just having the credentials to do the job; they know how to tap into their employees’ abilities and capitalize on them. They know how to delegate and manage projects successfully. They can understand each individual’s learning style and tailor assignments and training accordingly. They foster trust and camaraderie with employees by helping their fellow team members improve professionally and develop expertise. Perhaps most importantly, they care about their teammates as people, not just as coworkers. This means that they outwardly show empathy and understanding.
Investing in the development of managers in your own company is critical to improve their leadership and communication skills. Below are just a few of the many ways you can contribute to the growth of your managers.
- Set aside a fund that managers can tap into for professional development initiatives, such as attending leadership classes and workshops or joining professional organizations.
- Offer resources to managers that can be used in the office to help them develop the skills they need for better delegation and project management. Google, for example, provides a set of tools that each of its managers can use, including new manager training course materials and a manager feedback survey.
- Provide soft skills training to help managers become better at key proficiencies such as leadership, motivation, coaching, communication, conflict resolution and networking.
- Publicly recognize great managers within your team and encourage them to share their experiences and learned knowledge with other managers. This will foster a culture of openness and collaboration within your company.
An investment in your managers is an investment in your entire workforce and in your entire business. Great managers have happier, more engaged employees that are more productive, creative, collaborative and less likely to turnover.