When it comes to leading in the workplace, knowing when to delegate effectively can make all the difference.
Knowing when to delegate tasks may not only give you some mental relief and prevent burnout, but it can also help your business in the long run in terms of revenue and profitability.
Here are some daily tasks every small-business owner might consider delegating.
Maximizing the Importance of Delegating Tasks
Effective business leaders don’t carry out every work task themselves. They know which tasks and responsibilities to delegate and who can do them best. To start, they understand why delegating these smaller tasks matters in reaching the business's larger goals.
Not every business owner can delegate the same things. When your business is just starting out, you may have to handle almost everything on your own until it gets off the ground.
Once you're in the position to, delegating tasks that are not in your zone of expertise can improve output and allow you to focus on the areas you are more specialized in.
Tasks to Delegate
As your business becomes successful and you find yourself with more responsibilities and resources, you might consider delegating aspects of your workload.
The following examples are a good place to start delegating tasks.
- Accounting/Bookkeeping: You should always keep an eye on your overall financials. However, you can likely delegate the smaller daily tasks, such as sending out invoices, inputting financial information, managing payroll. and maintaining records.
- Administrative: Managing your calendar, scheduling appointments, returning phone calls, booking travel plans, and even sorting through emails are all tasks that may add up to quite a bit of time in the average day. Using a virtual (or in-house) assistant may save you several hours.
- Customer service: Once your business grows, you don’t have to be the first person customers call for help or with complaints. You might delegate this task to an employee.
- Data entry: If possible, postpone data entry until you’ve got enough data to make the task worthwhile, and then outsource or automate it.
- IT support: Learning how to solve your and your employees’ computer problems may take more of your time than hiring someone to handle it. Consider services from companies such as Best Buy’s Geek Squad, which provide tech support for an annual fee, or find a local IT consultant you trust to help you. A good consultant may go beyond problem solving and troubleshooting to help you plan for growth.
- Marketing: Although you need to oversee your overall marketing strategy and plan, you may likely save a lot of time and effort by finding experienced marketers to handle the day-to-day aspects of marketing, such as writing ad or website copy, designing and placing ads, and scheduling blog posts or social media content.
- Packing and shipping: Whether you're sending out direct mail and promotional products or fulfilling product orders, you might delegate the envelope-stuffing, packing, and labeling to someone else.
- Production: Even if your business makes handmade products, such as jewelry or housewares, you might delegate production at some point so the business can grow.
- Website: Designing, updating and securing the safety of your business website may be best left to a professional, since the rules in this area are constantly changing.
- Writing: Running a small business may require lots of writing, from proposals and blog posts to white papers and reports. Even if you’re a good writer, you might save time by having an employee or freelance writer write a first draft and then editing as needed to create the final version.
Delegating Tasks: Identify the Right Person for the Job
Depending on the size of your business, the importance of the task, and the length of work needed, you could delegate effectively to family, employees, or outsourced contractors. Of course, it also depends on your budget.
If you're feeling ready to delegate, having a process will help you delegate effectively and reap the benefits.
The right person for the job could be employed or a freelancer, depending on your needs, and will help ensure overall business productivity.
- Family members: If your business is brand new or very small, sometimes family members may be your best bet to help you with small tasks.
- Employees: If a task is part of the core functions of your business, such as customer service, ideally, you may want to delegate it to an employee so you can supervise the person more closely.
- Outsourcing: There are many tasks you might delegate to freelancers or independent contractors. Freelancers can specialize in everything from IT consulting and website design to marketing copywriting and bookkeeping.
How to Delegate Effectively
Delegation, in many ways, requires a shift from operating the business to leading it. If you're feeling ready to delegate, having a process will help you delegate effectively and reap the benefits.
- Choose the right people. It can be vital to choose people you trust and who have the skills and experience to handle the job – or the intelligence to learn it.
- Create systems and processes. Develop clear directions for each task you delegate. These might be complex or simple depending on the task. Identify the steps of the task, what materials or tools should be used to perform it, and what outcome you want. Example: “Go through my emails every day at 8 a.m., noon, and 4 p.m. Use these templates to answer the ones that can get a standard reply. Those for me, forward to my attention and label them as urgent or non-urgent accordingly. The goal is for me to get through my emails faster.”
- Start small. Consider delegating one small task to a person you’re considering. For example, if you're testing an employee to manage all your social media, you might start by having them schedule a social media post before having them consistently write and post content. Make room for any questions to clarify best practices.
- Communicate regularly. Open communication can be key to successful delegating. You may have to constantly communicate with some people like your virtual assistant. Others, such as an IT consultant, may not require frequent contact. In either case, however, consider setting up systems and timelines for when and how to communicate (for example, check in every morning and afternoon, meet by Skype once a month, etc.).
- Don’t micromanage. Ideally, once people know their assigned tasks, they should be able to handle them without further interference from you. Micromanaging won’t ease your workload. However, delegating doesn’t mean abdicating responsibility. You will likely still need to stay on top of employees and contractors' general progress via check-ins and reviews. Setting clear expectations can create clear lines of communication and helps delegation work effectively. Be crystal clear about desired outcomes, deadlines, and deliverable formats.
By implementing delegation tactics, you may find your schedule frees up to focus on the bigger picture. In turn, you can grow your business faster and more effectively.
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A version of this article was originally published on September 8, 2015.
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