Running a business isn’t a job, it’s 12 jobs
By Melinda Collins
It is a critical factor for anyone wanting to be an effective leader. But for those of us who heard that well known phrase ‘if you want something done properly, do it yourself,’ and took it to heart, a lack of delegation skills can be a real show stopper.
This is because running a business isn’t a job, it’s 12 jobs, so effective delegation is worth mastering. The typical small business owner who doesn’t delegate is their own manager, marketer, sales person, PR specialist, product or services developer, fundraiser, bookkeeper, human resources department, receptionist and secretary. Some even serve as their own accountants and tax preparers.
And all of these jobs are in addition to what the business owners actually got into business to do in the first place, be it creating a product or providing a service.
No matter what stage of development your business is at, you don’t have to wear all these hats alone – if you just learn to delegate.
Auckland Chamber of Commerce Vital Training senior facilitator Graham Caine states the case in no uncertain terms. “It’s the most important skill a person can have in a leadership role. The ability to lead comes from our passion, enthusiasm, charisma and vision, but to get vision to happen we need to delegate.”
Caine says no one person can do everything a business will need to be able to grow beyond a start-up business.
“To grow to any great success you need people. When you bring in people you immediately need to delegate and do it well. When you’re inside an organisation, delegating will make sure the right people are doing the right tasks at the right times – that will create success in your business.”
Caine runs a course through the Chamber on the subject and says delegation is as much a science as it is art. “Delegation is an art form because it involves humans and by our very nature, humans are complex individuals.
“This makes delegation a task of balancing communication skills, people understanding skills and empathy to name just a few. It’s an area considered by most to be simpler than it is.”
And, like any art form, it takes practice and constant improvement. “It is a skill that requires continual improvement because the people you are delegating to continually changes.
“Delegation is a skillset – not just a skill. It requires patience and persistence.”
However, there’s not a cardboard cutout solution to delegation he adds. The first thing you need to realise is that every individual you delegate is different and therefore requires a different approach. Secondly, he says, you must never delegate what doesn’t need to be done in the first place – it wastes time and resources. And, thirdly you must never delegate something you should be doing personally.
“If you have an angry customer who want to speak to you personally, get on the phone, shake their hand – be the person who takes ownership.”
So what are the keys to successful delegation? Stage one he says is to scope out the task fully. “Know what tasks need to be delegated, when it needs to be done by and how it needs to be done.”
Secondly is to find out if anyone within the organisation has the skills, knowledge or experience to carry out the task.
The third step is figuring out how you are going to delegate the task. “Every person needs to be approached in a different manner which comes down to their personality, background and experience.”
Step four is the actual delegation itself. “Communicate the delegation to them. Set time aside to do this. Not over the water cooler or coffee machine, but the larger tasks need more time.”
It’s important, Caine says, to have check point where you check on the progress, ensure the task is being done correctly and offer assistance if necessary. The most critical point, he says, is to provide feedback once the task is completed, “in a constructive way,” he laughs.
“Everyone can benefit from delegation, no matter how big or small the organisation. If there are two people you need to delegate, if there are 50 people you need to delegate even more.”
For more information on the Auckland Chamber of Commerce The Art of Delegation workshop visit the chamber website www.aucklandchamber.co.nz