The magic of delegation, 7 things you must know to be successful
Delegation is one of the easiest and most difficult things to learn how to do well. Delegation does not just mean telling somebody what to do, it means telling them in such a way that they can keep doing it ongoing, teaching them if you will. With delegation what you are trying to do is reproduce yourself amongst other people, so they can make the decisions and do the things as if you were doing them yourself. The problem is most people do not have the patience to do this. It is easier doing something yourself in 5 minutes that it would take you 30 minutes to teach someone else. Unfortunately, if you do that, the next 50 times it happens you’re still wasting that five minutes instead of somebody else taking care of it for you. Delegation can be one of the great secrets of success as long as it’s done correctly. The bigger the company the more that delegation applies. In fact, even going back 50 years, IBM has management books for every level of the company structure, to help its people delegate and manage the people below them. So, learn to delegate. Here some of the few things to take into account.
The hardest thing to learn is just to let go. It’s so much easier to do it yourself, but if you do it yourself you’ll never catch up on everything that you have to do. Successful delegation is how things are done, but you have to learn to let go. We know you can do the job better yourself. If you are going to run a company you need to teach others how to do it at least (almost) as good as you. We know it’s your child, and it’s hard to leave it with a babysitter, but you just have to learn how to do it.
Choose the right person
Choosing the right person to delegate to is important as well. If the task requires detail do not try and delegate it to somebody who cannot focus on detail. For example, in a simplification, delegating your bookkeeping to an auto mechanic is not going to work. Pick somebody that has the requisite skills, or you believe has the competency, to learn the tasks that you’re going to delegate.
One of the most important things to learn about being a leader and delegating tasks is to explain the reasoning of why they are doing the task. It’s all very nice to teach somebody like a robot to reproduce something like an assembly line, but what if anything changes? Then it’s not going to work. To get the most out of delegation, explain why they are doing the task. We mean explain the motivation behind the task, the why of the task being done. Remember you don’t want a robot, you are trying to make a mini-me of yourself for that task, so you need them to understand and own it.
When you delegate a task, you explain to them how to do it and why. You also want to remain reasonably flexible if they do the task in a slightly different way. As long as the results are acceptable the how should not be too important. If they come to you with an idea of doing it a different way, don’t fall into the trap of telling them no because it’s not the way you would do it. Very often you will be surprised that they will find a more efficient way to do it than the way you have been doing it. If the other way doesn’t work? Well you can always go back to your original way.
Don’t expect miracles
They are never going to be as good as you, smart as you, or have as much focus you. Well they might, but you will never believe it. The reality is they are not you. They are not going to react to any changes in the task as easily or as smoothly as you do. Things that you take for granted they do not know. Do not fall into the trap of assuming that they know everything you do. People can do a good job if you explain it to them in full details like you would a small child, of course, do not be condescending. If they make a mistake, don’t get mad at them, get mad at yourself for not being clear enough for what the task is. At the beginning of a task just accept that there are going to be problems and mistakes. Sure, of course, you can do it better yourself, but that’s not the point here.
Make sure there are clear deadlines set. This is important to do for yourself anyway, but when you are delegating tasks it’s even more important. After your chosen person has done tasks repeatedly and accurately, over time you can rely on them more and not need as much supervision. But in the beginning, you have to make sure those tasks are done, so it’s still on you to be in control of the situation. The deadline is an important way to keep track of things. It also give you time to save the day if they are not getting the task done.
If your delegated task gets done correctly, make sure you give some compliments to them for accomplishing it. Over time you will need less praise for the same task, but in the beginning, it’s important that you make them feel good that they have done it correctly. This is all about being a good leader and getting a good team together.
Once you learn and understand delegation, you will wonder how you ever existed without it. Your job is to be the captain of the ship, not the one running around doing every task to make the ship run. When everything is running smoothly, you can focus on your job of making the business better. Your real job is to do things in the company that nobody else can do. If you want to be truly successful, you need to master delegation.