How to delegate effectively

Written by Corinna vanGerwen

Fact: as a company grows, delegating responsibilities and duties becomes increasingly necessary. Owners accustomed to doing everything themselves must learn to trust someone else to deal with day-to-day functions, so they can turn their attention to vision and strategy. Better yet, delegating effectively will not only relieve your stress and ensure that no details are missed, but can also inspire your employees to work harder, invest more in your company, and help them increase their skill sets.

Delegate: invest in the growth of your company

“I can do it better and faster myself.” Sound familiar? It may be true that after years of experience you can whip your way through any company task, but by taking the time to train employees to take on those responsibilities, you’re really investing in the growth of your company. Day-to-day tasks are not where you should be spending your energy; any project that takes time away from your focus on strategy and growth should probably be delegated, except in special circumstances. If you’re having trouble letting go, then communicate that to the employee; they’ll respect you more and resent you less if you admit to your desire to micromanage, says Nicole Bendaly, managing partner of Kinect, a Toronto consulting and training firm specializing in team building and leadership.

Spend time to save time

Match the task to the employee with the necessary skills, then take the time to train him or her. Explain the desired outcome, the deadlines involved, the extent of his or her decision-making authority and obtain the employee’s consent to follow-up methods. Agree that if the employee runs up against any problems, which is bound to happen, you will be notified immediately. “Support them as they go through the learning curve,” adds Laura Boyd-Brown, president of Sapient Management Consulting Inc. in Mississauga, Ont., and faculty member of York University’s Schulich School of Business.

Never delegate on the fly, says Bendaly: “There is a fine line between delegating and dumping.” Employees must feel there is something in it for them — that you’re not just offloading the tedious tasks you don’t want to do. Increase the likelihood that the work will get done (and done well) by explaining what they’ll get out of it (new skills, a chance for growth), and why it’s important that it be done, says Michael Stanleigh, president of Toronto-based Business Improvement Architects, a consulting and training company.

Learn from mistakes

When something doesn’t go right, it’s an incredible opportunity to learn. “Don’t beat the people if they don’t do it right,” stresses Boyd-Brown. “You’ll stop them from thinking the next time around.” The most valuable employees are the ones that can problem-solve. And if you regularly get resistance from staff, says Stanleigh, see it as an opportunity to examine what isn’t working within the company and improve it.

Read other pointers on How To contribute to your business success!

© 2004 Corinna vanGerwen

Originally appeared on PROFITguide.com