Elizabeth Grace Saunders is the founder and CEO of Real Life E, a time coaching and training company, and the author of “The 3 Secrets to Effective Time Investment: How to Achieve More Success With Less Stress.”
At first glance, not doing something yourself feels risky: What if it doesn’t get done? What if it’s not quality work? But done correctly, delegating can actually lower the risk in your business. By delegating, you are decreasing the chance that you’ll burn out and that important activities only you can do won’t get done. Real control comes from managing risk and releasing control in appropriate ways. Here’s how to change your approach to delegation to maximize business results.
Identify where to focus
To help you let go of projects other people can do, you need to understand what exactly should fill the majority of your time. Where can your contribution make the biggest impact? For most business owners, these activities include strategic thinking about new business opportunities, building relationships, sales, and specific elements of operations.
Unfortunately, most owners find that the most essential business building activities never happen because they get so swallowed up in day-to-day operations. Take a moment to step back and think about where you can provide the highest value. Everything outside your core strengths and role should be activities that others can do.
Name the fear
Vague feelings of discomfort can stop us from moving forward. But when we clarify what actually bothers us, we can then address the issue and breakthrough to the next level. Name your fears. To help you get started, I’ve listed out some common concerns in each category.
Delegating the work
- The work won’t get done.
- The work will not get done well.
- I feel bossy/mean.
- I’m worried I’m inconveniencing others.
- I feel out of control.
- The work won’t get done the way I like it to be.
Doing the work yourself
- I feel stressed.
- I feel sleep deprived.
- I’m frustrated.
- I feel like my opportunities for growth are lost.
- I am out of control.
- I am limiting others’ growth.
After each bullet point, name in specific detail the perceived risks associated with both allowing others to participate and doing the work yourself.
Minimize the risk
Once you have a detail list of perceived risks, take the opportunity to address each issue. Figure out how you can minimize the risk when someone else does the work. This will allow you to put the appropriate checks and balances and safeguards into place.
Perceived risk: The work won’t get done.
Risk mitigation strategy: Set up a follow-up system for each task. Make a running task list or hold meetings to review deliverables. Use tools like followupthen.com to remind yourself to ping someone.
Perceived risk: The work will not get done well.
Risk mitigation strategy: Take time to think through the work that you pass off to others. Identify whether you’re in the direction, coaching, support, or straight delegation stage – both with the individual and with the task. Tailor your management approach accordingly. Always factor in buffer time for work to be reviewed and edited.
By following this three-step strategy, you can delegate effectively and invest your time in growing your business — without burning out.