The Power of Delegating as a Small Business Owner to get Sh*t Off Your Plate
Using the Power of Other People’s Help
Ever find yourself thinking it’s easier to just do it yourself?
Maybe you feel bad that you’re giving your work to somebody else, or you’re afraid somebody else will do a better job than you?
It could be that you just can’t let go of control. Maybe you are hesitant about paying someone to do it even. It could be that you just can’t let go of control. After all, you are the only one who can do the job the way you would do the job.
Over the past year, I have embraced the power of delegation. Before that, I was just a lone wolf who knew I was spreading my time too thin, but I didn’t have the resources to hire help.
You can bet your pants I was ready with a list when I could finally hire. I share my process for how I did that here: What to Delegate.
I have a “doer’s” mindset, and while that is a massive part of my success, it’s also a downfall. I find myself thinking nobody else can do it right (aka “how I’d do it”).
But I knew to remain successful and step into the next level, I would have to delegate, no matter how scary.
Go easy on yourself – and your team.
Transferring the responsibility for a project, process or task to a team member doesn’t mean you can’t retain authority, control and accountability. While that person does the work, you are still the person accountable.
Delegating allows you to free up your time to work ON the business (get more high-level work done) and develop your leadership skills while empowering your team.
When you delegate to your team, it increases their motivation and confidence, allows them to learn new skills, have a voice, plan work and enlist the cooperation of others.
All a recipe for team growth.
When you allow your team autonomy, they will be better engaged and have greater job satisfaction.
The Right Resources & Desired Outcomes
Before you can hand off work and allow for autonomy, You have to set out the right resources and define the ideal outcomes.
As I mentioned above, I created an outsourcing list. This list identified all the things I do that either need my time or do not, such as:
- My zone of genius, my expertise, and areas where I do my best work
- Tasks that do not need me to get done
- My productivity killers or time sucks
- Things in the business I do not enjoy doing
Then I take things from #2, #3 and #4 and start documenting those processes.
1. Document the Processes You Use
For the next week, for each task you do in #2, #3 or #4, write down all the steps as you go through and complete the tasks.
Let it be messy here. Just try to write a list of what you did from start to finish.
The following few times you do that task, use the list to help you walk step-by-step to ensure you captured all the steps a new person would need.
Some ideas to start documenting: Blogging, onboarding a client, product inventory, social media posting, answering emails or customer service support messages, and pulling reports for your review.
Once you’ve gone through the task a few times and have a pretty good process, you can share with a new person while you train them and get them up to speed.
Make it simple with checkboxes. Maybe clean up a few things here and there, and you’re done.
Be open to making adjustments when someone else steps into the process, don’t be too rigid. This process sometimes identifies areas of improvement, and that is good. It doesn’t mean you were doing it wrong.
Look at a process as living and flexible, meant as a guide to be fine-tuned during its journey.
2. Identify the Skills Needed for These Processes
Once you’ve identified the process, what special skills do you want a person to have that you don’t need to coach?
For example, if you’re outsourcing website work, look for someone with experience on the website platform/theme you use.
If you have product inventory and use Shopify, look for someone with some experience with that platform.
They don’t have to be an expert, but some experience will help make training more manageable, and a new set of eyes may improve your processes and introduce options and features you didn’t know existed
3. Hire or Delegate to a Team Member
Now you’re ready – do you have a team member who can do this work and would be eager to take on a new responsibility?
Do you need to hire a freelancer or a new team member who has the skills you are looking to fill? Combine similar tasks if you have multiple to offload and find a person who can do all or most of those things. Keep it reasonable for the time allotted in their day.
Be prepared to train and support team members through this process. A new person with some skills will still be acclimating to your communication style and the business ins and out. An existing member will be adjusting to stepping into a new role with you and learning new skills.
Both require strong leadership through guidance and support. This is a chance to sharpen your leadership skills. 3.
4. Provide Support & Guidance
The first step is to clearly identify the desired outcome and its ties to your business’s goals.
What does “done” look like, what is “good,” what is the timeline, and how do we measure accomplishment. How should you communicate? What are the tools for getting the job done?
Here is an example:
Sara is new to the team. She was hired to take over social media posting. We have a checklist for the process of scheduling posts. Our team corresponds to a messaging platform, and we have shared files for all team members to access assets and client documents.
We create the assets and captions for the social posts. Sara will copy those captions, add photos to our social scheduler, and set the publishing time.
Sara was trained on our internal processes (which are documented) around communication and where to find documents she needs to complete her job. She had experience on the social scheduling platform, so she was familiar and didn’t require training other than how we use the platform.
Sara was given the written process. She and I walked through the process step-by-step, answered questions, and sat with her as she ran through the process.
Now, she is ready to work on her own without supervision. Sara runs into a question with a post. She knows to reach me via messenger, so she asks a question and gets her question answered. She’s able to proceed and continues with the process.
She does a second run down the process to ensure she did everything on the list and then communicates with me again to let me know the posts are ready for my review.
Upon review, there are a few changes to be made. I do not make them. I messaged Sara with my feedback and changes and asked her to update a few items.
Here is where I can help guide her on things specific to our industry and my preferences.
She updates her work and asks for my review, it’s ready for finalization, and the task is completed.
This is good work. The expectation was not perfection; it was doing the work and learning. Which is sometimes identifying things not addressed during training, which always happens. My extra review and feedback will help Sara improve quickly.
Check your judgment. It can get tricky, especially if you are not patient (like me). Focus on helpful feedback to guide behavior rather than coming across as agitated or inconvenienced.
Tips for success
- Don’t make corrections yourself; send it back. This is a learning experience, not a negative criticism.
- Give a clear explanation of what was not right or explain the preference if it’s not wrong – be self-aware of what is actually preference versus right or wrong.
- Ask for feedback yourself; this is not a one-way street. Ask if you provided explicit instruction, determine what you can improve upon to better delegate in the future
- Give thanks and credit. Don’t be afraid to be grateful and recognize the successes even if it’s not perfect. Encouragement and positivity help breeds confidence and future wins.
Did You Miss Part One?
If you miss the first part of this topic, What to Delegate? Learn how to identify the things to delegate, read it or watch the video.
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