Ironically, it took me a while to realize that delegation truly does have a great impact on our ability to grow our businesses. I was telling people to hire a virtual assistant and delegate while I didn’t initially realize how much I was still doing myself in my own business. I needed to practice what I was preaching!
The two biggest repeat tasks that I most recently delegated and have found to be the most impactful are bookkeeping and social media management.
When I was managing our social media accounts myself, I was posting pretty sporadically and there wasn’t a strategy behind the type of social media content I was creating. We had a presence online, but it wasn’t doing much for us. When I practiced delegation and handed off the project to one of our social media assistants, things changed significantly.
Not only was I free to focus on other parts of the business, but we were also seeing an increase in likes and engagement. We even started getting some business leads from Facebook and received applications for open assistant positions after sharing on our social channels.
With delegation, not only did I have time to do more of the work I love, someone else could do a much better job and in less time than it took me.
Granting access to my Quickbooks account was definitely more difficult for me as a business owner than handing over the keys to my social media accounts. It was a little scary to let someone in nearly every detail of the business numbers. But the truth is, I was failing miserably at doing this myself. The accounts weren’t balanced or reconciled (ever) and I was logging things wrong. I felt embarrassed every time I talked to my CPA. It just wasn’t something I was great at, and I knew I needed help.
I finally found someone that was competent and that I felt I could trust with this intimate part of our business operations, and wow, what a difference it has made! I gained about three days per month back to focus on improving our internal operations, and I reduced my stress immensely.
It didn’t take me long to see that my decision to embrace delegation truly has given me more opportunities to improve my business.
I’ll be the first to tell you that it’s hard to let go. Our businesses are like our babies, and naturally, we want to protect them and guide their every little step. We can’t trust just anyone to care for our baby, and no one will handle it with the extreme care that only a proud parent can provide.
But if we take time to plan how we will delegate first, we set ourselves up for a much smoother transition for handing off some tasks and ultimately freeing up our own time to think big-picture and focus on the work we are passionate about. Before you offload work to another team member or contractor, take some time to prepare.
1. Make a list of everything you are doing daily, weekly, and even quarterly, and break these out into two columns: tasks you must personally handle, and tasks you think you could pass off.
When you review this list, consider what it would take for you to feel comfortable moving some tasks that are currently in the “personally handle” column over to the “delegate” column. If your first reaction to an item on your list is “it’s faster if I do it myself,” take a few minutes to think through what steps might be needed to train another person to do it exactly to your expectations.
Today it may be faster for you to do it yourself versus teaching someone the process, but how much time could you get back if you never had to do that task again?
Also look at tasks or projects that have been on your to-do list for more than a few weeks. If you are constantly rolling that to-do to the next day, it is probably time to enlist some help – if nothing else, get someone to help you project manage and break the job out into manageable milestones.
2. Start small. Identify one or two tasks that you can delegate without causing anxiety.
Give yourself some time to get used to the idea of delegating and start with letting go of one or two tasks that are not extremely complex. If you are delegating to a new hire or outsourcing to a contractor, focus first on setting your own expectations through clear and frequent communication and work on building trust. Ask questions, give both positive and critical feedback as needed, and work on breaking habits you may have that are causing you to be a bottleneck in the process. Empower your assistant to take initiative and truly reduce your workload.
3. Create a simple process for managing tasks you delegate.
You don’t have to design flowcharts, write a handbook, or sit down with someone for hours and hours of training to effectively provide direction. Start by making notes or an outline as you work through the task yourself. Utilize some online tools for efficient collaboration.
- A great free tool that can save hours in training is Loom. This video recording app makes it easy to create videos of your screen while you talk through the process. It really is easy to use – just click the Loom icon in the browser and start recording!
- Sign up for a free Trello account and easily assign, prioritize, track progress, and communicate over projects.
- Get Slack for your team making it easy to chat with one person or teams, share files, make calls, or even automate answers to common questions using the Slackbot.
The key to sustaining your business as you grow is to learn to delegate. Remember that delegation takes planning, work, and practice. Before you start, be clear about what methods of communication work best for you and hold to those boundaries. You will be more productive for it!
For more on this topic, get our new e-book, Quick Guide to Developing a Delegation Strategy and start creating your own delegation plan.
Amber Gray is the founder and CEO of Trusty Oak, US-Based Virtual Assistant Services based in Austin, TX. Learn more about Trusty Oak’s services and the team at trustyoak.com.