Do you have a hard time with delegation?

Many people do. Maybe you wonder how you can possibly delegate certain tasks, especially if you’re the expert. Maybe you’re not sure about whether you actually can delegate some tasks. Sometimes you may even feel guilty about delegating - especially where you feel ultimately responsible!

One of the secrets of growth among the most successful people is that they have learned to efficiently manage delegation. Sometimes it’s a difficult transition. If you’re an entrepreneur who has been used to the hustle and having to get everything done yourself, it can be challenging to hand tasks over to someone else.

We often find that executives and entrepreneurs try to hang on to too many tasks. Up to 80% of what is being hung onto could be done by someone else. Wondering how? Check it out:

Why you need to delegate

You’ve heard about delegating to free up more of your own time to work on critical tasks. That’s absolutely a key reason to adopt effective delegation practices because it gives you the opportunity to grow. There’s only so far you can get by doing everything under your own steam - you can’t make more time!

However, it’s not just your time at stake. When you hang onto tasks worrying that no one else will be able to do them as well as you can, you’re ensuring that no one ever will. Because they don’t get the opportunity to learn to do them well.

If airline captains refused to ever let co-pilots land the plane, we’d have a bunch of pilots out there who are rusty when it comes to landing planes. Not only that, the captain has essentially made a rod for their own back - they now must always be the person landing the plane. (I don’t know about you, but I feel much more comfortable in the knowledge that there’s always backup on the flight deck!).

Learning to delegate effectively is how you build a sustainable business that is prepared to grow. By delegating, you make sure more than just the captain can land the plane! You give your employees the opportunity to develop their skills further and make a bigger contribution to the business.

Some rules of 80...

I made the premise that up to 80% of what you do can be done by someone else. This is something that I know from experience and through various “rules” involving 80%.

The first one you’re probably familiar with - the Pareto Principle. This 80/20 rule is applied in the business world in many ways. For example, you’ve probably heard of the notion that 20% of your clients will be responsible for 80% of your sales, or at its heart, that 20% of causes will be responsible for 80% of outcomes.

When you look at that last example, you can apply that to your own work. Is it true that something like 20% of your efforts contribute to 80% of results? This means that somewhere around 80% of the work you’re doing isn’t making a huge impact on results, or that it isn’t when you do it anyway.

No offense, but there’s a certain subset of tasks that are your jam. They’re the things that can really move the needle, such as getting the big new client to sign up or designing an important new function in your business. Those other tasks might still be important to do, but they’re not directly contributing to results. These tasks are not your thing.

Here’s an example - have you ever measured how much time you spend on just managing your calendar? It’s an important task because meetings need to happen and you need to travel to conferences. However, the time spent on the actual management isn’t contributing to business results. (Put calendar management on the list of things an executive assistant can do for you!).

On getting work done…

There’s another application of the Pareto Principle that often holds true when you’re managing teams or projects - that 80% of their time (or yours), will be spent on just 20% of the work.

When you think about this and examine it more closely, you can start to ask why the bulk of the time is spent on that 20% of tasks. Is it because the person doing them isn’t skilled in the tasks? Are there factors at play in your own day, such as continuously having to shift focus (especially if you’re doing things like answering your own messages and calls)?

In any case, it represents an inefficiency that perhaps delegation (or re-delegation) can fix. Delegating is also about giving the right tasks to the right people, although they don’t always have to be experts…

On doing the task “good enough”

This is another rule of 80 that is often observed in the business world: perfection isn’t the key to success with delegation. While it can be difficult to make the shift, you might find as a business leader that by accepting that someone else can do the task 80% as well as you can, you’re able to let go of more tasks. As long as your key goals are being met, why sweat over a subjective view of perfection?

Note that I definitely mean you should meet your goals through delegation. There are some tasks that just can’t be 80ed - reconciling accounts, for example. The idea of allowing for “80% as good” doesn’t mean overlooking mistakes, it means accepting a “correct” standard, even if it might not be as high as your own.

I get it, we often believe that others can’t do a task as well as we can and sometimes that’s true. However sometimes you’ll be surprised when someone else does it better! There are definite advantages to having a fresh set of eyes on your systems and processes.

Delegation doesn’t mean a task is always done as you would do it, but it does achieve your goals CLICK TO TWEET

Get comfortable with delegating

How can you become comfortable delegating and do it effectively? Here are some ideas:

  • Resist any urge to micromanage. Getting caught up in every little detail is missing the point of delegation. Make sure the person has all the information needed to get the job done and let them just do it. Micromanaging is not only a waste of your time, it’s an annoyance to the people being managed and often stifles innovation and productivity.
  • Look at your administrative tasks first. If you’re not sure what to delegate, tasks such as calendar and travel management, billing and office management are the sorts of tasks for which many assistants are typically trained.
  • Give full ownership of the task to the person who you want to do it. Make sure they understand why it is important and what the desired outcomes are. Giving people ownership and context is empowering for them and they’ll often do their best work.
  • Be open to suggestions. You can always tell someone, “This is how it’s been done before, but I’m willing to hear suggestions for how we might improve it.” This way, you’re encouraging free thought and letting people know you won’t be offended if they think they have a better way.

If delegation is still a bit uncomfortable for you, it’s important that you have competent team members you trust and who are used to handling all sorts of tasks. An executive assistant is a role that typically fits this description.

Here at Worxbee, we take care of recruiting top executive assistant talent and matching them with the right people. You can expect to get an EA who will work as a partner with you and help you strive toward your goals. Want to know more? Go here to get started.