Delegation is Good for EveryoneTomChilders
As a small business owner, the need to leverage your time is on your A list. The only way you can really spend time working on critical success factors is to not spend time working on trivial matters (see A Developmental Approach To Time Management).
By delegating tasks and duties once performed by you, you have said to an employee, “I value and trust you so much I want you to do this now.” In turn, many employees view this as a form of recognition, advancement, increased responsibility, growth, valued work, and/or achievement. These are all motivators in the eyes of your employee(s) (see Pay As A Hygiene Factor) and potentially great ways to improve retention.
So, how do we insure that our delegation efforts fall into the effective category? A good practical approach is to follow the same SMART process used in goal setting for employees (this is a two for one in this regard – a delegation method and a goal setting method).
1. Specific – tell them exactly what you want them to do; why you chose them; and, why it is important in the grand scheme of things.
2. Measurable – discuss what successful completion looks like and how it will be measured; stated another way, begin with the end in mind.
3. Attainable/Achievable – make sure goals are realistic and the employee has the inherent skills to succeed; if either is missing this effort can backfire and have adverse impacts.
4. Relevant/Realistic – goal(s) should be realistic and relevant to the business, team, and individual; asking employees to pick up your laundry isn’t relevant to the business.
5. Time Bound – put a due date on it and make sure the employee fully grasp the task before you ask them to agree to a date.
How detailed you are in your instructions should ultimately depend on the employee’s inventory, capability to succeed, and personal work style. Further, certain check in dates or milestone meetings may be needed as well. Some may ask to check in a lot to insure they are doing it right and will make you happy. Others may say I will try it on my own completely and bounce it off you a week before the due date and use the remaining time to correct accordingly. Again, this all depends on the people, including you, and work styles.
There is a form of delegation that simply says here is what I want done and how you do it is up to you. It still follows many of the same delegation steps and practices but it assumes the employee has all the requisite skills and knowledge to get the job done correctly. This is stewardship delegation and it can be very rewarding for the employee. The opportunity, trust and confidence this displays in the employee is very powerful. Of course, if the employee does not possess the requisite skills this can really backfire. You need to know for sure before you decide if stewardship is the right approach.
In today’s competitive environment, you not only need to use your time wisely but you need to retain your top talent. Effective delegation could be just the tool you need. Free up time that is needed elsewhere and give a good employee a serious vote of confidence and praise…that’s win win.
This truly is one of small businesses greatest challenges and opportunities.