How to Delegate: 8 Steps to Success

how to delegate
Is it time to work on your business, not just in your business?
Photo credit: Novartis AG / / CC BY-NC-ND

If you’re going to grow your business, you need to know how to delegate. But when it’s your own business, it can be hard to let go. You don’t want to risk something being done badly, or you needing to redo it.

The best way of avoiding problems is to be really clear about what you want. At Time Wizard I use and teach an eight-step process to define exactly what has to be done, and how. It’s a great tool to help you work out exactly what you need, and means you have a much better chance of getting it done successfully, on time and within budget.

1. What’s the task?

Outline what needs doing. Maybe you’re planning a workshop and need someone to find a venue. You would put down your requirements for location, price, facilities, size and date, plus anything else important.

2. What’s the result?

Define exactly what the final outcome should be. That way, everyone knows what they’re working towards. That might be ‘I can book my workshop venue’, or ‘everyone can understand and use the new filing system’.

3. What processes do you want?

If you have particular processes you want someone to follow, put them down. You might have leads or resources for research, or contacts someone should use. It’s always worth putting down suggestions unless you’re delegating it to someone clearly more experienced.

4. What format?

Define how you want the task to be done, or presented back to you. Do you want a spreadsheet, a Word document or Powerpoint presentation? If someone’s researching options for something, how long do you want the shortlist to be? What information do you want on the list?

5. What’s the deadline?


6. How long should it take?

Agree with the person you’re delegating to how much time they should spend on it. It means you stay in control of the job and the budget. If it’s a potentially open-ended job, specify a short time and then discuss it. You might discover after an hour that one of your requirements is making it difficult, so you can decide whether to change it or not. Alternatively, lots of options may be available, so you can provide more input on how to choose. If you’re using someone new, it also means you can quickly call a halt to a task or provide more support if it’s clear they aren’t up to the job.

7. What don’t you want?

Many delegated tasks go wrong because someone hasn’t remembered to say the things they don’t want. If you don’t want your cleaner to use bleach, or you don’t want your workshop venue to be on the ground floor, say so now.

8. What are your preferences?

If the task involves any judgement, you’ll probably have some preferences. This is where you put down things that aren’t deal-breakers, but help someone to make a decision. If they’re researching flights, it’s helpful for them to know if you avoid or favour a particular airline, or if they’re researching potential clients, you might prefer a certain area of the country.

In short: be clear, be upfront, and remember: if you don’t know what you want, you won’t get it!

©Joanna Pieters/Time Wizard


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