When should I think about delegating?

Neil King looks at when entrepreneurs should think of delegating.
When should I think about delegating?
By Neil King
Wed 05 Aug 2015 02:58 PM

Chances are you’re doing a lot of work with a very small team. And if you’re the founder of the business, you’re likely to be doing much more than everybody else. This is, of course, your baby. But you can’t do everything.

There will come a time when delegating is not only the best option, but the only option. There is a ’70 percent rule’. When you can trust a team member to do the job 70 percent as well as you could do it, then it’s usually safe to give them the task.

How do I delegate effectively?

First of all, know your team members’ strengths and weaknesses so that you can give specific tasks to the right people. Then make sure that you give them detailed instructions of what you want. They need to fully understand what needs to be done, what is expected from the job, when it needs to be done by, and what the success of their end product will be based on.

Don’t keep looking over their shoulder (there’s a lot of trust involved here) but do keep track of how they are getting on to ensure they have properly understood the job and have capacity to do it.

Who should I delegate to?

As mentioned above, pick the person with the right skills for the job. But also make sure they are motivated to do it, and actually have the time to do it as well. Be careful not to repeatedly delegate to the same person, or same small group of people – try to spread tasks around the entire team as this avoids individuals being seen as ‘teacher’s pet’.

If everybody is actively involved, then it will help maintain team spirit. Another option is to open up the floor and let employees come forward for a project they want to take on.

What if they do the task wrong?

Wrong or differently? Don’t mistake the two.

Different people will go about things in different ways, and if you’re entrusting somebody with a task, you need to let them do things their way. To an extent, at least. You will have a particular outcome in mind, but the results your employee brings you might be different.

Don’t dismiss their work out-of-hand – perhaps they’ve done a better job than you had envisaged? Of course, there may be times when you can see that things are going awry, so don’t be afraid to intervene if you have to. Don’t tell them off though, try to lend a hand. Maybe even become their mentor. Guide them as little as is necessary and let them take up the reins again when you’re confident they’re heading in the right direction.

What else should I do?

Consider offering rewards for good performance. There needs to be a sense of gratitude from your side and accomplishment from their side, so bear that in mind when they successfully complete a task.

Regular training is also a smart idea, if you can afford the time or the cost of an outside trainer. This will install a development model that many people in start-ups and SMEs will appreciate.

It will help them grow as professionals, and make it easier for them to pick up delegated tasks in the future.

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