Building your own business from the ground up means you have to be responsible for a whole host of tasks, both big and small. It’s part of what makes the job so rewarding, but it’s also a huge part of what makes it so exhausting.
As an entrepreneur, chances are that you’re more than familiar with the concept of delegation. But putting the concept into practice is something that many business owners still struggle to justify. Working flat-out and juggling endless different responsibilities are all part of the job description, right? Not according to experts.
Regardless of whether or not you have the time or the inclination to do everything yourself, if you really want your business to thrive, delegating tasks and responsibilities is how you can make it happen. But don’t just take it from me, here’s what the experts have to say…
In 2014, Gallup studied 143 CEOs on the Inc. 500 list–an annual ranking of America's fastest-growing private companies. Their findings showed that CEOs with “high delegator skill” generated 33% more revenue compared to those with lower levels of delegator skill.
Similar findings were also reported in a 2016 study of US lawyers. Researchers from the Kellogg School of Management found that those who delegated work to associates earned around 20% more than they would otherwise, with top lawyers (who have the most skill to leverage, according to the researchers) earning at least 50% more.
If you asked someone the first words that came to mind when they think of an entrepreneur, you'd probably expect them to say "passionate", "busy", or "stressed".
In their 2018 study, entrepreneurship and innovation professors Silvia Stroe, Joakim Wincent, and Vinit Parida maintain that passion is a crucial element for any entrepreneur to succeed in their venture. "Passion is considered essential for individuals to engage in an activity that is inherently uncertain and requires them to deal with resource shortages... Individuals need passion to persevere in the intense, risky, stressful pursuit of entrepreneurship." However, the team goes on to say it can easily become the biggest thorn in the side of a business owner without us even realizing it, "When passion takes on an obsessive quality, its effect can be problematic and even harmful for entrepreneurs. Social psychology has shown that obsessive passion can have a host of detrimental effects such as negative affect, reduced well-being, burnout, and conflicts with one's personal life". In short, our passion for our businesses makes us want to throw ourselves into every aspect of its operation, and inadvertently pile our workloads sky-high.
Role overload, first coined in 1970, is when the demands of your role exceed your time, energy, and capabilities to meet them. Sound familiar? A recent study into entrepreneurial well-being identified role overload as one of the leading causes of stress in entrepreneurs. Not only that, further research into the effects of role overload stated that it can trigger a variety of stress reactions, such as anxiety and depression, which can subsequently impede work performance.
But the good news is, delegating some of your regular, recurring, energy-zapping tasks is one of the simplest and most effective ways to beat role overload and reduce your stress. Fewer demands on your time allow for a much more balanced life where you can focus on the quality of your work, rather than the quantity of tasks you need to tick off.
Greater likelihood of growing your business
In the same study by Gallup, CEOs with high delegator skill were 57% more likely to be planning on significantly growing their business in the next five years compared to those with low delegator skill.
This is likely due to the compounded impacts of the two previous points – the fact that delegation provides more opportunities to focus on strategic planning, decision-making, and execution rather than being bogged down in the day-to-day minutiae of running a business, a higher quality of work yielding better results, and extra revenue being reinvested back into the business.
Increase in employee performance
As the head of your business, it’s not just you who has the potential to benefit from delegation.
A 2020 study reported a positive correlation between delegation effectiveness and employee performance.
Delegation opens up the opportunity to empower employees through the transfer of knowledge and skills. Many small businesses are now starting to use delegation as a means of improving task performance and communication. Their CEOs give their assistants more freedom to choose tasks, being aware of their tasks’ impact on the company’s performance and having their support.
But for effective delegation, employees or assistants need to understand their manager's expectations and how their role fits into the overall vision. They must also be given the tools and resources they need to do their work effectively. Remember that delegation is a continuous process. As employees or assistants learn more, they can be given more responsibility.
Increase your value as a leader
Another benefit of delegation is that it can serve to increase a CEO’s value as a leader. It allows them to focus on the bigger picture, perform strategic decisions, and make sure that everyone is on the same page when it comes to company goals and objectives.
In his article “Effective management through delegation”, John Muir wrote that both leaders and “subordinates” stand to gain from an effective delegation process. When provided with opportunities to showcase their skills and contribute to the success of the company, the leader earns respect and loyalty from the subordinates.
Not only that, but a crucial factor in successful leadership is trust. In their book “Management Skills: Making the Most of People”, authors Robin Evenden and Gordon Anderson state that trust is earned when leaders show interest in the development of others and motivate them to succeed. Delegation succeeds when subordinates are given meaningful work, responsibility, autonomy, and challenge.
Make Delegation Your Daily Habit
Now you’re fully clued up on the benefits that delegation can offer, it’s time to start reaping them for yourself.
It may seem daunting if you have never done it before, but all it takes are some simple steps to make sure you’re setting yourself up for success from the get-go.
Choose your task
Think about all the tasks you currently complete on a daily, weekly, and monthly basis, and ask yourself the following questions:
- Is your expertise specifically required, or could anyone do it with the right instructions?
- Does it zap your time and energy without a sufficient return on investment?
- Is it important but you often put it off because you don’t enjoy doing it?
- Is it often neglected because it’s a low priority?
If a task ticks any of those boxes, you should consider offloading it. Once you have a list of all your tasks that are suitable for delegation, take a moment to imagine your regular life without them on your plate. If it brings you a sense of relief or excitement, you know it’s a good choice.
If you want an even quicker and easier way to determine which of your tasks should be kept and which can be delegated, try our free online tool.
Establish skills and experience
Effective delegation is nothing without the right person for the job. Use your list to determine the skills or experience needed to perform each task well.
Next, it’s time to think about the finer details of your task. What would someone need to complete it? Do they need access to a particular email or website? Is there a specific software or program they should use? Do you need to provide log-in credentials?
Think of it as creating a user’s manual. If you put all of this in writing, there is less likelihood of needing to repeat your instructions over and over as your assistant can quickly consult your task guide as needed.
Trust by default
While the old saying may be that “trust should be earned and not given”, this mindset can be more of a hindrance when it comes to delegating effectively. Simply put, you can't afford to wait around for trust to develop over time.
Your task may not be completed in exactly the same way in the hands of someone else, but the most successful delegators understand that the outcome is more important than the process. Whether it’s an existing member of your team or a new addition, you will find it much easier to delegate when you trust them from the onset.
What’s The Bottom Line?
In today’s world, there are plenty of reasons why some entrepreneurs are reluctant to delegate. But in many cases, they don’t realize just what they could stand to gain from doing so. Experts agree that offloading tasks can result in higher revenues, improved employee performance, and increased value as the head of your business. So when done right, delegation can be an extremely powerful tool for any entrepreneur.
Are you ready for a less stressful, more successful life? Are you ready to take back control of your time?
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