All Babies Grow Up – Figuring Out When and How to Delegate

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Every business startup is the baby of its founder. And like all new parents, you know it’s important to be in charge and in control of every minute of that new baby’s life – after all that baby is totally dependent upon his parent for survival.

Carrying this analogy a bit further, moreover, that baby does grow – it crawls then walks; it develops some independence and begins to branch out. And the busy parent, now feeling a lot more comfortable about the toddler, is ready to delegate some of the care to outsiders – babysitters and/or day care centers, for example. Your business will also reach this point. You just cannot do it all, and it is time to delegate. Even the richest and the most influential people achieved fame thanks to the team behind them. So, how do you decide which tasks to keep and which to delegate? Here is a step-by-step approach that just might work for you.

Make a List of Every Single Task

This may take a month to do. You need to go through enough time, so that no task is left out. This list should include all of the day-to-day operations, the tasks that must be completed weekly and monthly, and the permanent tasks with no timeline (marketing, sales, etc.).

Divide Those Tasks into Categories

The First Division:

Take two pieces of paper. Title one “Things I Like Doing,” and the other “Things I Don’t Like Doing.”

The Second Division

Now you are going to take each one of those lists and further divide them as follows:

1. From the “like doing” list, make two lists – one for those things that you also need to do yourself and another for the things that you not need to do yourself. Be honest here. If you really like filling some orders as they come in or answering every question a potential customer asks, that’s great. You want to be a real “hands-on” business owner. But these are not things you really “need” to do, so they should go on the “not need to do” list. The goal here is to make your business more efficient as it grows. Part of that is handing over tasks, even though you like them.

2. From the “Things I Don’t Like Doing” list, divide the tasks into two lists – those you need to do and those you don’t need to do. You may not like the “accounting” tasks that come at the end of the month, but you don’t have anyone else qualified to do them. They have to go on your “need to do” list until you can either hire or train someone to do them. The lovely thing, however, is that there will be things you don’t like to do that you don’t need to do either – sweet!

You Now Have Four Lists

The next step is to combine the lists of the things you need to do. These are the tasks you will keep. The other two lists, those things you don’t need to do, will be combined and earmarked for delegation.

Delegation Can Occur Over Time

You do not have to go down your “delegate” list and mete out tasks today. Take some time to really think about who on your team is best suited for the tasks you will be delegating. If there is no one for a specific task at this time, then you will assume it for now. However, it stays on the “delegate” list, and you will be making a plan to train a current team member or hire someone when the budget allows. The beauty of developing this particular list is that you can identify the skills you will look for in the next person or people you add to your team.

Consider Re-aligning Tasks of Current Team Members

Part of delegation also involves a re-distribution of tasks that must be done. If, for example, you have a team member is highly organized and detail-oriented, this is a person you may want to train to take over the financial aspects of your business. In fact, it may be just what that individual would love to do rather than compose the monthly newsletter or maintain the blog and social media. And as you do re-align and re-distribute, be mindful of the time demands as tasks are assigned. No one should be overloaded.

It’s Hard to Let the Baby Grow Up

Every parent feels the bitter-sweet pangs of having a child who is growing and becoming a more complex and independent individual. Your business is a living breathing growing thing too. And the beauty of its growth is that you can add staff and delegate, so that ultimately you are in that beautiful place where you are doing only those things you really want to do. Then, you have “arrived.”