7 steps to master delegation and reduce your working hours
Updated: May 7, 2019
Do you experience any of these symptoms:
Overwhelmed by everything you have to do.
Not getting on top of your to-do list.
Not having enough time to work "ON" growing the business because you are spending most of your time working "IN" the business.
Wishing you didn’t have to do those mundane manual tasks.
If you answered “Yes” to any of the above questions, then don't worry you're not alone. Most entrepreneurs struggle with the same challenges running a small business. However, it doesn’t have to be this way.
In the world of automation, there is a significant move to outsource and delegate more and more tasks to Virtual assistants or operations managers in your business. In “4-Hour Work Week” Tim Ferris raves about “Outsourcing his life” to Honey from the Philippines, Asha and Sowmya from India and many others from around the world for $4 p/h!
As an entrepreneur, do you catch yourself thinking "it is faster to do it myself than teach someone else and have to check their work!”. Even if you take a leap of faith and delegate tasks, you immediately get cold sweats over the throughs “What if my VA/Admin/whomever you delegated to does it wrong, and I have to spend time fixing it!!!”. This is why it is crucial to have an effective delegation process!
What is delegation?
“Delegation is the assignment of any responsibility or authority to another person to carry out specific activities. However, the person who delegated the work remains accountable for the outcome of the delegated work.”
What are the benefits of delegation?
There are many benefits of delegating tasks. It gives you more time to focus on higher-level tasks and things that matter to you, like scaling your business, or spending time with your family, or finally going on that holiday you have been pushing back!
Outsourcing services and delegating tasks are essential to your business’ success. "Many entrepreneurs don’t delegate tasks because it requires setting up a system and structure, which takes effort and time to implement. However, they don’t realise how much time and effort it will save them later." says Elena Korolkova from Kick Consulting
Many entrepreneurs don’t delegate tasks because it requires setting up a system and structure, which takes effort and time to implement. However, they don’t realise how much time and effort it will save them later.
We found many entrepreneurs are born perfectionists, lovers of control and task hoarders! So delegation isn’t their strongest skill! However, we believe you are intelligent enough to learn to outsource effectively and successfully implement it in both your everyday and business life by following our “7 steps to master delegation" guide.
These 7 steps to effectively delegate and outsource tasks will help you scale your business without hindering your profitability. The problem most business owners face is that they only do one or two of them, and then, when a task isn’t completed to their satisfaction, they lose faith and complain that their admin or VA isn’t good enough to get the job done.
The problem most business owners face is that they only do one or two of them, and then when a task isn’t completed to their satisfaction, they lose faith and complain that their admin or VA isn’t good enough to get the job done.
1. Set the right expectations (both for you and your support)
No-one has ever done something once and mastered it! As we all know practice makes it perfect! Emma Marsh from “Hey Emmy” says: "Delegating to team members is something that comes with ease after plenty of time practising it! It's always worth starting, and being willing to iron out any issues after you begin."
As an entrepreneur, we tend to hope the magic fairy will come into our business and fix all the pains and bottlenecks. That is how every “delegation disaster begins”, we offload our tasks and hope it will work itself out without investing time to explain what we want to achieve and how we expect it to be delivered.
Angela Henderson from “Angela Henderson Consulting” shares: “The majority of times people who try and outsource or to delegate fail due to the error of the business owner not being prepared to train the new contractor, staff member etc. Make sure you have policies, procedures and time set aside to this correctly.”
2. Plan what to delegate
Take a little pleasure in the delegation process; you don’t have to outsource the jobs you love doing!
"Take a little pleasure in the delegation process; you don’t have to outsource the jobs you love doing!"
However, as business owners, we tend to grow unpleasant feelings towards tasks we used to love because now they turned into chores as we have to do them on an ongoing basis to make the business run smoothly. Elle Roberts encourages to delegate the tasks you no longer love to do: "Start with the jobs that you either dislike the most or that take up most mental energy to get done (often these are not hard jobs, but they have become HARD for you)."
3. Document all your processes.
Do you agree it is hard to deliver quality results when the delegated tasks aren't thought through? Georgina Bowned from “Georgina Bowden Coaching” points out this is one of the first steps of the delegation process! She says: "When delegating to a VA make sure you have documented all your processes prior to handover, and expect things not to be "perfect"!
It is the foundation for your business' success, take everything "out of your head and on paper” (aka your digital standard operating procedures manual (SOP). Standard operating procedures manuals’ benefits are undervalued. What is the common denominator between McDonalds, Michelle’s Patisserie or any other successful franchise? Their ability to replicate success and same quality regardless of who performs the task. This can only be achieved when the steps and jobs are systematised and well documented so anyone can pick it up.
Elena Korolkova from Kick Consulting reminds: "Systematising a documenting your business processes will increase your business value for any potential future investor or buyer and help you scale and delegate tasks effortlessly in the future!"
Swapna Thomas also agrees that you need to start the preparation early: "The preparation to delegate starts even before you outsource. So start recording your processes using a tool like Loom, create standard operating procedures documents, onboarding processes etc. So that when you hand over the tasks there is no ambiguity about how you have got it done, and then they can improve from there."
4. Set clear outcomes, checkpoints and milestones.
If you can’t measure it, you can’t manage it.
When delegating tasks it is crucial to explain what is to be done, how you think it should be done, and the reasons for doing this job in the first place.
If you can’t measure it, you can’t manage it.
Once you mapped out your process, you will see what milestones for the task you are outsourcing are. It is excellent to record it either in your procedures manual or add it to your task or project management software like Trello or Asana.
Paula Maidens also points the importance of the milestones and checks: "Accept that mistakes are going to happen and the world will not end! Work out ‘review and checkpoints’ at important business flow points (eg before the final draft goes to a client) to help you stay in control while also letting go of full control."
5. Communicate and Measure.
We all know that communication is everything. "Delegating tasks and immediately forgetting about it isn’t the way to successful outsourcing." says Elena Korolkova from "Kick Consulting". To achieve quality results with outsourcing we need to make ourselves available for any questions that may come up.
To achieve quality results with outsourcing we need to make ourselves available for any questions that may come up.
There are many office chat apps available out there. Our favourite one is Slack.
It is vital to create weekly or bi-weekly progress meetings to track progress or jobs. Krystle Divertie from "Krystle Clear Solutions" says: "When delegating tasks, it is important to trust and not micromanage. Set up a weekly meeting to answer any questions and follow up in outcomes and outstanding tasks!"
We suggest using Zoom for any of your video conferencing needs and meetings with your remote team.
It is imperative to build a great working relationship with whoever is taking on your tasks. You should feel you can trust them and this comes through asking questions and open and direct communication. Nadia Omair from "Winowin Consulting" explains: "The most important element of successful delegation is trust. Whether responsibilities are delegated to a VA or an employee, it is very important for a business to establish a trustworthy relationship and believe in the abilities of the person to whom tasks are being delegated. Trust can just do miracles.”
6. Continuous improvement and cover your bases
It is incredibly important to remember to improve your processes continuously. Progression over perfection.
Progression over perfection.
Integrating feedback loops in the progress meetings with your team is crucial for your business growth. As a business owner, we occasionally suffer from “tunnel vision” 😄, the feedback loops from your team will serve as your sanity check, open you to new opportunities you may not have seen before and built rapport with your colleagues.
Integrating feedback loops in the progress meetings with your team is crucial for your business growth.
So it is time to bring in some “Kaizen” process into your life.
Consider having a backup plan in case things turn bad. Tanya Abdul Jalil from “Your Business Wife” says "Don't be afraid to try a few VA's before making the jump to outsourcing - give them some smaller tasks and see how you can work together, how they communicate, are they good at taking the initiative etc. It's not nice to think about but make sure you're protected in case things go wrong - know how to quickly secure your business and restrict access you ever need to and have a backup of everything.”
7. Now, use your time wisely
Now that you delegated everything what can be outsourced and you gained hours of freedom, you need to resist falling back into your old habits. Elle Roberts from "Artful Business Events" explains: "Also once you start delegating use the time you get back wisely. Don't just fill it back up with busy work. Use it to focus on the long term goals of our business or on the real income generating activities."
Don’t forget to invest some of that newfound time into your most valuable asset - yourself! And remember:
“It does not matter how slow you go as long as you never stop” - Confucius
7 Steps to master delegation and reduce your working hours:
Set up the right expectations.
Plan what to outsource.
Document all your processes.
Set clear outcomes, checkpoints and milestones.
Communicate and measure.
Continuous improvement and cover your bases.
Use your time wisely.
Tools for efficient delegation:
Google sites - for your procedure manual.
Slack - all your team communications and notifications.
Zoom - video conferencing.
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