To Delegate Or Not To Delegate?

Bring Happiness Back Into Ownership,
While Strengthening Your Team

Image: UncleFredDesign / Adobe Stock

All too often, I hear from friends, customers or family how amazing it must be to own my own business and the freedom to do what I want when I want.

My typical reply usually sounds something like this: “Absolutely; owning my own business gives me the freedom to choose which 80 hours a week I will work!”

So yes, being in control of your own destiny has a strong attraction for many, but even the most dedicated of us eventually gets to a point where we want to shed some of the burden of running a business and focus on the aspects that gave us the inspiration to start the business in the first place. When we mire ourselves down in mundane tasks we are either not good at or despise we can start to resent our own business. Once resentment starts to creep into our way of being, it can start an owner on the path of significant decline in business performance.

A “Horrible” (Or Helpful) Word?

The alternate path to thwart this regression is to explore the roles you fill, the tasks you perform and the responsibilities you have and do a “ask analysis.” Not only will this journey help you get a grasp on all the things done to keep your business running, but it will also help you “honest up” and see what delegation opportunities there are. Yes, I said it, the horrible word — “delegation.” We all struggle to delegate tasks because as business owners we feel our business is at risk if a task isn’t performed to a high standard, so we just do it ourselves. What we are really doing here is twofold.

1. We often perform tasks we avoid until the last moment, invest minimal time because we aren’t fully invested in the task or deliver a subpar product because we just aren’t the best at it or, even, worse all three at the same time.

2. We deny our staff the opportunity to show off their abilities to carry out these same tasks and grow as well as improve overall business.

Run A Task Analysis

So how do we get out of this cycle and start giving team members the chance to grow and shine in our business? First, fully commit to bringing delegation into your way of doing business. Second is to run a “task analysis.” Here’s how.

1. Make a list of all the tasks, without question, you’re the only person who can act upon. There’s no way to delegate these tasks if you’re the only person who can perform them.

2. Reread the list and be honest. Quite likely there are other people who can perform these tasks in your organization.

3. Once you’ve confirmed your “Only I can do these things” list, set it aside.

Now it is time for phase two. Make a thorough task list of the things you perform other team members can perform as well. Once you have it, break the list down into two categories: the tasks you enjoy doing and the tasks you don’t enjoy doing.

Take the two lists and break them down again into two more categories: tasks you’re good at and those tasks you struggle with.

There are now four categories of tasks:

1. Tasks I enjoy and I’m good at.

2. Tasks I enjoy, but struggle with.

3. Tasks I don’t enjoy, but I’m good at.

4. Tasks I don’t enjoy and I struggle with.

“Tasks I Enjoy And I’m Good At.”

These are the tasks that not only you enjoy, but do extremely well because you don’t mind putting a lot of time and effort into them. These tasks recharge your batteries instead of depleting them. These are quite likely things that brought you to opening this business in the first place. 

Cherish these tasks and keep them as part of your routine. At their core, these are the things that elevate enjoyment and give you the drive to succeed.

“Tasks I Enjoy, But Struggle With.”

This is where you can find personal satisfaction in growing your skill set. Because you enjoy the task, you’ll dedicate the time and effort to learning and improving your ability to perform it. These tasks also add energy to the day and satisfaction to your work. 

It’s a wonderful opportunity to delegate to your team to see if someone can mentor you and improve your skill set. By leaning on your team for personal growth, it gives them the pride and satisfaction of helping improve the business (and likely is a task that falls in their own “Tasks I enjoy and I’m good at” list) as well as promoting a supportive and growth-oriented store culture.

How do we get out of this cycle and start giving team members the chance to grow and shine in our business? First, fully commit to bringing delegation into your way of doing business.

“Tasks I Don’t Enjoy,  But I’m Good At.”

The roles reverse here — you should delegate the task to another team member, and you become the mentor to grow their skill set and help them become a more valuable employee. Resist the urge to hold on to these tasks simply because you’re good at them. See yourself more as the backup person for this task instead of the primary. 

Unenjoyable tasks drain the energy and enjoyment of running your business. Search and explore for team members where these tasks squarely fall into their “Tasks I enjoy and I’m good at” list and delegate it to them. When you do this consistently, not only will you develop a more competent team but improve their job satisfaction at the same time.

“Tasks I Don’t Enjoy And Struggle With.”

Three words come to mind here. Delegate, delegate, delegate! These are the tasks you should avoid like the plague. When you come to the crossroads of poor skill set and task hatred, you’ll never see these tasks done to any level of quality unless you hand them off to other enthusiastic and competent team members. These tasks quickly drain your energy and build resentment to a workday. Export them to someone else as soon as possible!

The Ultimate Goal

Once you’ve run through this list, you may come to a stark conclusion there are some tasks that just can’t be delegated. This could be from a lack of skilled staff available, the desire to take on the task or both. If so, now’s the time to train or hire! Exercises like this one will give you a clear definition of the roles a person will perform to fill the gap in your current team.

Lastly, and arguably most importantly, through this exploration you may discover “ownership-type tasks” all fall outside of the “Tasks I enjoy” column. This is completely okay. Many highly successful businesses are owned by someone who does not run the business day to day. 

Coming to an understanding about yourself, accepting you need to hire someone to run the business and relegating yourself to the tasks that keep you enthusiastic about the business will likely accelerate the process of growing it. 

The key here is to be honest, act and grow the team consistently. If you can, you’ll quickly find delegating leads to happiness beyond expectations! 

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