How To Delegate Better and Get More Done

How To Delegate Better & Get More Done

There’s no better feeling than clicking “Assign” on an order, knowing your team will handle it from here on out. Unfortunately, for founders like us, it’s sometimes hard to relinquish control of our business’s core competencies.

Even if you’re not ready to have someone else handle client orders just yet, you can start by delegating specific tasks. Learning how to delegate better will help you handle more clients and ultimately grow your agency.

Why is it so important to delegate?

Lots of people have trouble delegating tasks. There’s often a nagging sense of doubt that prevents them from letting go of their control over an outcome.

Will the task be done correctly?

Will the quality be on par with what I expect?

What if something goes wrong?

When you combine the mental effect of these doubts and the simple fact that delegation demands a bit of effort up-front, it’s not hard to see why so many founders decide to handle their work themselves.

There’s a pretty clear problem with this approach, though—you have a limited amount of time and energy to devote to your business. It doesn’t matter how early you set your alarm, there are always going to be tasks that get pushed down the pipeline.

So, delegation is really a matter of getting your priorities in order. It’s the process of determining which tasks are essential for you to complete, which ones can be completed by someone else, and which ones can be ignored altogether.

A founder who feels the need to micromanage every task or project within their business:

  1. Isn’t giving their full attention to any task

  2. Isn’t thinking about the bigger picture (i.e., which tasks will have the more significant impact)

  3. Is stressed about the small things with no clear sense of what to prioritize

When you’re first starting out, it’s natural to want to do everything yourself. You’re the one who knows the most about your business and its goals, so it makes sense that you would want to be the one in charge of making things happen.

But as your business grows, you’ll quickly realize that there’s only so much you can do on your own. You’ll need to start delegating tasks to other people if you want to scale.

Delegation is an important part of scaling a business because:

  • there’s only so much you can do yourself

  • it allows you to focus on your core competencies

  • it helps you get more value out of your time

  • It provides headspace for more important tasks

What tasks should you be delegating?

While delegation can help your business scale, delegating everything is usually a recipe for disaster. So, how do you distinguish the tasks you can delegate from the ones you can’t?

The process involves systematically thinking about different tasks and responsibilities within your workflow and running a kind of cost-benefit analysis.

To help you out, we’ve written a few guiding questions that will help you make the call:

  • Can someone on your team fulfill the task? There are always going to be some task that only you can do (more on that later). If the task in question can be completed by someone on your team (either with their current skill set or after a bit of training), it’s a candidate for delegation.

  • Is the process documented? If it is, you most likely will have an easy time delegating this set of tasks. 

  • Will the task be recurring? If the task occurs again in a similar way in the future, it’s an excellent opportunity to train someone to complete it for you going forward.

  • Is the task an opportunity to expand a team member’s skill set? By taking the time to train them now, you could save a lot of time down the line. Plus, offering education and advancement opportunities plays a huge role in employee engagement.

  • Is there a time constraint on the task? If you want to delegate a time-constrained task, you’ll need to leave enough time to provide training, answer questions, provide answers, check on the progress, and rework the completed task if needed.

  • Is the task vital to the long-term success of the business? Some tasks may require your personal attention. For example, if the task is essential for the long-term success of your service, you might need to devote some attention to it.

If you can confidently say any of these bullets apply to the task at hand, delegating the job could be the right move.

When should you start delegating tasks?

The answer to this question depends on a few factors, including:

  • the size of your team

  • the complexity of your business

  • the number of tasks beyond your core competencies

If you’re a solopreneur or have a very small team, it might make sense to handle most tasks yourself. Once you start growing and taking on more clients, you’ll likely need to start delegating tasks to others.

As your business grows more complex, you’ll also need to delegate more responsibility to others. This is because complex businesses require different people to specialize in different areas. For example, you might have someone who handles finance, someone who handles marketing, and someone who handles operations.

No matter how big or small your business is, though, there will always be some tasks that only you can do. These are your core competencies—the things that make your business unique.

As a general rule, the more time you can devote to your core competencies, the better. That means your goal should be delegating as many tasks that are outside of your core competencies as you can (safely) delegate. This will free up your time so that you can focus on the things that only you can do.

How can you delegate more effectively?

Now that we’ve talked about the importance of delegation, let’s talk about how you can delegate better. There are a few key steps you need to take in order to set yourself up for success:

  1. Break projects down into manageable tasks

  2. Find the right people for the job

  3. Include instructions

  4. Set priorities

  5. Let go of control

  6. Use your teammates’ strengths

  7. Incorporate feedback

  8. Trust, but verify

Let’s discuss each of these steps in more detail:

1. Break projects down into manageable tasks

The first step to delegation is breaking projects down into manageable tasks. This might seem like a no-brainer, but it’s actually harder than it sounds.

The key here is to be as specific as possible when you’re assigning tasks. For example, rather than telling your team member to "write a blog post," you would want to say something like "write a blog post about the benefits of delegation."

This might seem like a small distinction, but it’s important. The more specific you are, the easier it will be for your team member to complete the task and the less likely they are to make mistakes.

2. Find the right people for the job

Another important step in delegation is finding the right people for the job. This means matching team members with tasks that they’re qualified to complete.

For example, if you need someone to write a blog post, you would want to assign that task to a team member who is a good writer and has experience with SEO. On the other hand, if you need someone to design a website, you would want to assign that task to a team member who is a good designer and has experience with web development.

Here’s what you should consider when determining who should complete your tasks:

What experience, knowledge, and skills are required to complete the task?

If there’s some sort of experience, knowledge, or skills necessary for the task, you need to make sure the person possesses them. And if they don’t, you need to make sure you have the time and resources to give them any essential training.

For example, if you need someone to complete an email sequence for your marketing, you’ll need to ensure the person understands what an email marketing sequence is, copywriting, and several other skills.

Ultimately, it doesn’t matter if the person has an understanding of these skills if you have the time and resources to give them these skills.

How does is this person at completing work?

Analyze this person’s work style. Is the person an independent worker? Or does this person need you to keep an eye on them?

Consider the person’s long-term goals and interests. Do these work well with the project you’re planning on assigning them to?

Does this person have a current workload?

If the person is incapable of taking on this task, you need to know it. What is this person currently working on? Will this new task force them to put off other responsibilities? Do you have someone else to take on their workload?

3. Include instructions

While a task might seem obvious, you need to include a set of instructions for every task you’re delegating. Be sure to include preferences, milestones and information about the deadline.

4. Set priorities

Begin developing a priority system for your tasks. This system is dependent on your expertise, your industry, and the kinds of tasks you typically need to handle. But you’ll want to create some categories exhibiting the level of effort and degree of skill your tasks demand.

The category for the highest-skilled tasks will contain the tasks you need to handle on your own. Lower-skilled categories can be delegated to others. The degree of effort will show which tasks you need to delegate. An example of this is how you can assign a high-effort, low-skill task to save a lot of time on your end.

5. Let go of control

It’s difficult to let go. The act goes against many of the impulses and traits that helped you build your business in the first place, such as:

  • perfectionism

  • personal accountability

  • drive

While completing work yourself might be appealing, it’s essential to learn how to let go of your need for control in situations where it’s beneficial to you and your business.

Other people on your team either have or have the ability to learn skills and abilities many of your responsibilities call for. That means learning to let go and let others take on these responsibilities can benefit you and your organization.

When you’re beginning the difficult process of letting go of control, there are a few things you can do to make it easier—both for you and for your teams:

Identify Team Leaders

Teams function best when they have a leader (or leaders). Letting go and delegating means that you’ll no longer be occupying this role in many of the teams within your organization.

This prospect will be much less intimidating if you know that you’re leaving the team in capable hands. To make that happen, start identifying candidates to take on the leadership role. The person (or people) you choose should be:

  • proactive

  • accountable

  • knowledgeable

Offer Training

As you begin to let go, you’ll likely find that your business is filled with people who want to learn, grow, and ultimately take on more responsibility. This is an important realization for anyone who’s wary about letting go of control.

Giving these motivated workers access to training that will allow them to take on more responsibility is not only beneficial to the business, but also to your mental health.

Streamline Communication

If you’re someone who cares deeply about your business, it’s probably difficult to stay out of things once they come to your attention. This is a major roadblock on your path to letting go, because it often leads to nitpicking and micromanaging.

To overcome it, it’s important that you streamline communication within your business so that you hear about the things you need to know (when you need to know them). This might include:

Limiting Inter-Departmental Meetings: Inter-departmental meetings definitely have their place, but they don’t need to be common. Only people who need to be in the meeting should be there—that includes you!

Creating Priority Guidelines: Priority guidelines help your employees determine what information needs to be passed along and what information should be dealt with independently.

6. Use your teammates’ strengths

You’re the leader of your organization, meaning you need to know your workers’ strengths. Learning these individuals’ strong points and shortcomings will ultimately benefit your organization. When their potential and range of skills are known, you’ll know who you can assign certain tasks.

Consider who has the most skills relevant to the task. When you know your teammates’ strengths, shortcomings, and skillsets, assigning tasks relevant to your team members becomes an easy decision. Once you know who is best for the job, remain consistent. By delegating the same kind of tasks to the same person, that person will become better at completing those types of tasks.

7. Incorporate feedback

Feedback will help with the delegation process, and you’ll want to give and get it to improve upon your delegations. When someone does an excellent job on the task you assigned them, publicly thank them and offer praise for a job well-done. If they haven’t done a great job, provide them with constructive criticism to ensure they do better in the future.

You’ll also want to get your team members’ thoughts on your job delegating the task. This is your chance to become better at delegating. By requesting feedback, you’ll learn if you aren’t providing enough information, the task is too difficult, and more.

8. Trust but verify

After delegating a task, you need to trust the person to execute. This ensures the person can complete the task in their own way. But feel free to step in at times to check on the task. This will help you ensure everything is on track to be completed within the time frame allotted.

This can be as easy as sending a quick verification email to check on the person’s progress. By doing this, you’ll keep lines for communication open.

Final Thoughts

While delegation can be complicated at times, knowing how to delegate better with these tips will help you get more done. Knowing the processes and understanding perfection isn’t always an option will help, but learning from your experiences and making any necessary adjustments for improvement will assist you in improving how you delegate tasks to your team.

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