The Beauty and Necessity of Delegating

Written by @MelissaKehl

Delegating. That word alone can make the strongest business leader shiver a bit and turn their back on anyone who suggests it. It doesn’t deserve the bad rap it’s gotten, and once you’ve tried it for yourself—the right way—you’ll see why delegating is not only necessary but beautiful in action.

The prevailing thought when it comes to delegating is: Why? I can do it myself in less time, and with better results, than if I delegated it to someone on my staff. That is how I used to feel about it, but now that I have been delegating, I see the success of it. Don’t wait until you get to a breaking point before trying it as I did.

Team Members Like Being Asked to Help

At first, I thought, “Nobody’s going to want to do this, this job sucks,” but I learned that was wrong. Now, I have more time to get other work done, and I am happier with my job because I’m delegating the things I don’t like to do. The key is, I’m delegating them to people who want to do them, and it’s fantastic. There are things in life that you don’t like to do that other people think are the best thing to do. That’s what makes the world go around, that we all have these differences.

There are always people on your team who love taking those jobs on and ask for more. The other thing is that I like to see them grow and succeed. It’s so cool to see them thriving and feeling more successful in their job. So, it helped both of us.

If you don’t do it right, though, it won’t help either of you. Following the steps of delegation is essential, and it works very well.

How to Delegate in Six Steps

I first learned how to delegate during a webinar by Darren Hardy. I then refined the process according to what I needed and found worked in our environment at Rieke Office Interiors.

Step 1: You can’t rush the process, so set aside time for delegation. The best items for delegation are repetitive tasks. You will have to force yourself to be patient, but the results are rewarding.

Step 2: Tasks must be delegated to the right person—someone trustworthy who shares your values and has a passion for excellence. Take the time to find out what each person on your team loves to do—their favorite part of their job—and delegate to them tasks that suit them and what they love to do. Make sure to explain why you chose them, and that you want them to take on more responsibility and grow their value to the company.

Step 3: Clearly explain what the goal is, why you’re asking, and what success looks like. This means explaining how it is measured, when updates are expected, and what the deadline is. Delegate objectives, not procedures, and focus on the outcome, not the process. As long as they ethically perform the task and get the result you want, they are free to do it in any way they wish.

Step 4: Make sure they have what they need to perform the task (i.e., the right tools and resources), and they know where—and who—to turn to if they get stuck. You don’t want them wasting time worrying about asking questions.

Step 5: Make sure they understand the results you are looking for. I have found it works well to have them repeat back what they heard and are expected to do. This way, you will know if you need to clarify anything.

Step 6: Trust them. Delegate the responsibility and the proper authority level and then let them loose. Don’t forget to explain the authority level they have. There are three: decisions they can make which you don’t need to know about, decisions they can make that you should be told about after the fact (FYI style), and those that require approval beforehand.

A Safe Environment

As you prepare to delegate work, and possibly step outside your comfort zone, give some thought to providing a safe environment for those who take on these tasks. If your team members are going to be willing to step outside their comfort zones and take responsibility, they need to know you will have their back if they make a mistake.

More Crucial Than You Think

Delegating and freeing up your time is more crucial for you as a leader than you might think. It gives you the space to work on things that, while they don’t knock on your door as an emergency, are very important. Now you have more time for the continuous improvement process–to find the next market, the next product line, or the better way to do something else. These are the things you need to be working on to stay relevant in the fast-paced world we live in now.

Let me encourage you to delegate away and join me in working ON your business instead of IN your business.

About Melissa:

Melissa Kehl is president of Rieke Office Interiors, an office furniture manufacturer with a state-of-the-art manufacturing facility in Elgin, Illinois.  An innovator at heart who loves people, numbers, and a tidy workspace (not necessarily in that order), she is committed to helping others win in the game of business.