What is delegation?
Delegation is sharing tasks and authority with your team in order to accomplish your goals more quickly and effectively.
What happens if you don’t delegate?
• Your stress levels increase because you have more work than you can cope with
• This leads to unaccomplished tasks on your plate
• Your small business suffers
• Client expectations are not met
What happens if you do delegate?
• You can meet the demands of your business
• You create competence in your employees
• You nurture a sense of responsibility and trust
• Your small business benefits
• Client expectations are met
Why is it so difficult to delegate?
I encounter small business owners daily who find it extremely hard to delegate. They know that it’s the right thing to do, but are scared of losing control of the outcome. They know that they can likely do the task themselves more quickly and better than if they delegate it. They also are afraid that the time it will take to supervise the task will be more than if they simply did it themselves.
I met a business owner with the motto: “If I do it myself, I know it will get done.” This may be true, but he has a huge amount of stress because he tries to do it all himself, and the prospects of his business growing past a one-man show is very slim.
A simple example of the consequences of delegation
A client contacts two small businesses to complete a similar project. The deadlines are tight.
The owner of Company A understands how critical time is. Because time is so tight, he cannot go back later to reconsider or check the work done. He considers that his team have made some mistakes in the past, so he decides to tackle the project himself.
The owner of Company B also understands how tight the deadline is. He also realises that he won’t have much time to review the work done. He therefore sits down and breaks the project into specific parts. He then delegates each part to a team member. This frees him to check the work, since he has also noticed that his team has made some mistakes in the past.
Both the small companies meet the deadline with their projects. However, Company B delivers a more complete and well-thought out project. Company A with its overburdened manager ended up sacrificing quality just to get the job done.
Who will the client chose for the next project?
I once knew someone who was a master procrastinator. He loved procrastinating. He procrastinated too long in submitting a proposal that could turn around his business. On the due date he realized his mistake, and quickly compiled the proposal. Then he found out that a courier service would take 24 hours to deliver the proposal. This would mean his proposal would be late. In the end, he personally flew to a neighbouring country to submit it on time! Needless to say, because his proposal was hastily slapped together, he was not awarded the contract. He had however, wasted a whole lot of time and money.
Although this is an extreme example, procrastination can lead to all sorts of problems in a business. We all procrastinate at some time or other.
Is there any way to overcome procrastination? Some ideas are listed below:
- Say to yourself: “I can do anything for 15 minutes.” Often starting a task is the most difficult part. Once you are in motion, it is easier to stick with it.
- Do the task you dread doing first thing in the morning. Not only will it be behind you, but you will have a pleasant feeling of accomplishment all day.
- Work with the time available to you. (Procrastinators tend to have an unrealistic perception of time). If you estimate that a project will take 10 hours to complete, break it up in to manageable pieces. Write down each detail of the project, so that when you have a 5 minute break, you can quickly scan the tasks and make a phone call, or schedule an appointment, etc.
- If you really don’t have time for a task, rethink your priorities. If something is important enough to you, you will find the time to do it, even if it means getting up 30 minutes earlier in the mornings to fit it in.
- You don’t always have to start at the beginning of a project. Sometimes starting in the middle makes it easier to go back to the hardest part.
- Set small deadlines for yourself, and reward yourself after reaching each deadline. After the project is completed, you can have a bigger reward.
- Ask yourself if there is a simpler way to do it. You could be making the task more difficult than it is.
- Ask yourself what the worst is that could happen if you do the task. A day enjoying the fruits of your productivity is better than a day wasted thinking how you’d feel about doing the work the next day.
- Tell someone else what your deadline is. Being accountable to someone else is often enough motivation to get it done.
- Remember you are not the only person that can do the job well. You can delegate it or hire someone else to do it for you.
What works for you? If you have any good tips on overcoming procrastination, please share them with us in the comment section below!
Thomas felt very productive at the end of his work day. He had crammed in 6 meetings, and rushed through a myriad of tasks and phone calls and gotten them done before heading for the gym. He felt really good about himself. He was the guy that knew exactly what was going on in the business, and without his input the business would be lost. That is why he had not taken a vacation in 4 years. The business simply could not function without him! However, Thomas did not mind, because he thought that the faster his pace of life, the more value he had as a person. Thus he desperately tried to cram as much as possible into his days.
Unfortunately Thomas confused being busy with being productive. He had lost sight of the business goals, and as a manager, had forgotten that his task should have been facilitating the workflow instead of actually doing the work himself.
Ralph Keyes stated that: “Only by stepping back can we spot … how addictive it is to be rushed and busy. … Business can keep us from having to reflect, risk intimacy, or face the void. … We’re never forced to ask ourselves what really matters.
Ernie J Zelinski, in his book titled The Joy of Not Working, defines peak performers and workaholics this way:
A peak performer (ie. someone who is productive) is someone who…
- Works regular hours
- Has defined goals
- Delegates as much as possible
- Has many interests outside of work
- Takes and enjoys vacations
- Has deep friendships outside of work
- Minimizes conversation about work matters
- Can enjoy “goofing off.”
- Feels life is a celebration.
A workaholic, on the other hand, is someone who…
- Works long hours
- Has no defined goals (works simply for the sake of working)
- Cannot delegate work to others
- Has no interest outside of work
- Misses vacations to work
- Always talks about work matters
- Is always busy doing something
- Feels life is difficult.
Unfortunately for Thomas, a year later his company hit the rocks. No amount of blind activity could save it from disaster. What a pity he had not taken to heart the words of Plato: In order to seek one’s own direction, one must simplify the mechanics of ordinary, everyday life.