Leadership Advice

How to Delegate

Learning how to delegate may be the key to improving your leadership skills. If you are too busy with the details, how can you possibly lead your employees to greatness?

Are you getting the most out of your employees?

Do you believe you are bogged down in chores for your business that take you away from important tasks? Is it difficult for you to let go of some of your more mundane duties even though you recognize the importance of doing so?

If the answer to any of these questions is yes, it may be time to analyze your delegation skills. Often, business operators start with small staffs and usually end up doing most of the daily business tasks on their own. At first, this may be fine, plus it is a great way for you to quickly learn and become submerged within the business and industry. However, inevitably, these daily demands may be burying you when you could be pursuing other opportunities. By effectively delegating your workload, you can free yourself to do more such as planning growth strategies, finding new customers, or raising operating funds.

The qualities that led you to start your own business may trap you in doing everything. By keeping in mind these eight tips below, you can find ways to delegate chores to your employees.

1. List the work to be done and match it up with possible employees.

Start the process by matching up your tasks with employees who may be able to handle them. A simple table can help you along in making these decisions.

Current Tasks
Possible Tasks to Delegate
John Smith
Customer Service including taking phone calls and follow-up actions
Good people skills,Strong communication
Letting details go,Not asking questions
Sales contacts, Heading department for Customer Relations,Surveying existing customers

2. Identify who is genuinely interested in learning and acquiring new tasks.

New staff members often express a willingness to take on additional duties. They want to make the best impression possible. Before arbitrarily deciding to delegate your tasks, you may want to take employees aside and ask specific questions. Express your interest in using their skills to perform more duties. Make sure the employee realizes you will help make this expansion as easy as possible and the delegation will enhance job his or her job skills.

3. Let go and trust after training.

You must expect your employees to make some mistakes as they learn the new duties, but if you emphasize a supporting atmosphere and your willingness to work through common mistakes or misunderstandings, you can make the transition easier.

A key to making this letting go process work is to be very specific about what you are asking the employee to do. Just saying, "Handle this now," without letting an employee know what you expect can lead to confusion. Once the employee has grown more comfortable with the broad scope of what has been added to the duties, you can be more general in what you need.

4. Ask for and be willing to accept constructive feedback.

The sooner you recognize an employee is having trouble with a new duty, the sooner you can help correct the course and make the addition succeed.

Another positive way to encourage employee feedback is to ask an employee who has taken on a task to provide some ideas about how to make the task better. Just because you have been performing these tasks does not mean your approach cannot be improved. Do not see these suggestions as criticism, but as a justification as to why you assigned these new duties in the first place. Saying, "We have always done it this way," will stifle constructive feedback.

5. Realize there will be a learning curve.

One way to avoid micro-managing an employee with new duties is to realize there will be a learning curve involved. You probably did not immediately perform the task as well as possible. Understand there will be mistakes made, but by communicating with the employee and patiently explaining the task, you can shorten this learning curve. It will also be helpful to give the employee instructions and guidelines, in writing, of what the new duties involve and what type of performance will be expected.

6. Make rewards part of the process.

Hopefully, your employees will welcome the chance to add to their duties and enhance their skills. However, you should also consider adding rewards for taking on news duties, including:

  • a raise in salary based on an initial review;
  • a bonus for tasks added;
  • additional time off;
  • the option to use flex time in the working schedule;
  • an upgraded office space and new equipment; or
  • an assigned employee parking space.

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