How to Delegate Without Losing Your Mind or Your Business

By Rob Sabo | Posted August 22, 2012

Whether you run a four-person start-up or a 400-person tech firm, there may come a time when your job gets too hectic. When work reminders creep onto grocery lists and Post-It notes resemble Jackson Pollack paintings. If this sounds like you, it's time to make a change and finally let go. It's time to delegate.

Letting others manage critical parts of your business -- accounts receivable, client relations, business strategies -- can leave a softball-sized lump in your throat. The good news is that you don’t need to go all-in. You can keep it simple -- at least to start.

Begin with semi-basic tasks that tend to burn up your workday, such as answering customer emails or processing online orders. That way you ease into letting go without too much trepidation. Also, start by delegating only to employees who have proven to be reliable and honest. If anyone gives you pause, better to steer clear of that person at first.

5 Keys to Successful Delegation

Starting with smaller tasks and your most trusted employees is a great, but you need much more for delegation to yield truly valuable (and continued) productivity gains. Delegation should be about growing your business and cultivating your employee base, not about one-time pass-offs for temporary reprieve. To make sure you delegate the right way, use these five tangible tips:

  1. Clearly define the purpose, significance and timeliness of the task or project. Ambiguity in these areas can lead to confusion and mistakes
  2. Communicate your confidence in your employee's ability to get the job done
  3. Establish a method to track success. This helps ensure that employees continue to improve and grow with their new task
  4. Follow up! Don't micro-manage, but rather try to get a good feel for when it's right to ask how your team is doing
  5. Praise team members for success. Raises often go with increased responsibility, but sometimes a simple "good job" from the boss is the only morale booster necessary

While passing off tasks can help you avoid becoming overwhelmed, you don't want to trade one stress for another; always delegate with a plan in place. Encouraging team members to take on more responsibility can foster a winning work culture, increase productivity and help grow your business.

Do you have a comment or question about this article or other small business topics in general? Speak out in the SmallBusinessComputing.com Forums. Join the discussion today!

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