Most small-business owners struggle with delegating. They may recognize that they can't do everything themselves, but it's hard to pick what jobs should go to someone else.
While there's no hard-and-fast rule about what to give up, there are some common-sense guidelines for picking the task that can go to someone else. Here are two of them.
1. Tasks that Are Below Your Paygrade
Dr. Gayle Carson (@gaylecarson) of the Carson Research Center (@CarsonResearch) says small-business owners can get "bogged down in routine things simply because they have always done them."
"If it's something that can be handled by someone else, it should be," she says. "Delegate anything that is a $10 an hour task."
Handing off routine work, like answering phones, filling out forms, or managing inventory, opens up your schedule for what Carson calls "$50 tasks." These are the money-making activities that may require a more hands-on approach.
Hiring help doesn't have to break the bank, either. Take, for example, the experience of Gene Caballero, cofounder of GreenPal (@YourGreenPal). He used the freelancing website Upwork to hire a virtual assistant to sort his emails. The result? Caballero got back two hours of his day for just "pennies on the dollar" for what he would have paid an assistant.
A virtual assistant is only one way to add time to your schedule. Check out the post "Best Time-Saving Tips from Successful Entrepreneurs" for more ideas.
Delegate effectively: Donna Price (@donnaprice), founder and CEO of Compass Rose Consulting, says small-business owners don't need to micromanage staff or make every small decision, but that doesn't mean ignoring these mundane tasks completely. That may be especially true when it comes to money.
"Hiring a bookkeeper or an accountant is great," she says, "but the CEO always needs to be monitoring finances via reports and records."
2. Tasks that Don't Fit Your Skillset
Most small-business owners are really good at something. And according to consultant Heidi Pozzo of Heidi Pozzo LLC (@HeidiPozzo), they should devote their time to that area and delegate the tasks that fall outside of it. For example, if the owner is great with customers and selling, Pozzo recommends they focus on that and find people with different but complementary skills to run operations.
"In other words," says Pozzo, "the small-business owner should not spend their time in areas where other people are better or the work is very tactical. Their time should be spent on areas that grow the business."
Delegate effectively: Dr. Kim Turnage and Larry Sternberg, both senior leaders at management consulting firm Talent Plus (@TalentPlusInc), recommend small-business owners start with an honest self-appraisal. They say you can start by asking yourself…
- What are the tasks and responsibilities I enjoy most and do best?
- What are things only I can do and decide?
- What are the necessary tasks and responsibilities I put off or avoid because I don't enjoy doing them?
- What are the things that one or more of my employees can do way better than I can?
- What are the things I want to do more of? And what will I have to do less of to create the time and space to do them?
Then they suggest you look at your employees and ask…
- What does this person do best and enjoy most?
- What is this person fully capable of doing with excellence that I'm still doing or overseeing unnecessarily?
- What kinds of added tasks or responsibilities would be consistent with this person's strengths and interests and beneficial to both the business and to me as the leader of the business?
Turnage and Sternberg then say you have one critical question to answer: Am I ready to fully empower someone else to do this task? If the answer is "yes," go ahead and delegate it. But a "no" means you need to figure out what it will take for you to hand over the reins.
Get additional tips for parsing out your workload in "How to Delegate and Get More Done."
About the Contributors
Gene Caballero is cofounder of GreenPal, which has been described as Uber for lawn care. An avid writer since 2014, Caballero earned his MBA with an emphasis in finance and economics. He enjoys playing piano, being outdoors, and anything food related.
Dr. Gayle Carson, CSP, CMC, FIMC is president of the Carson Research Center and specializes in working with women over 50 and training people in media for radio and television. The host of 12 monthly radio shows, she is the author of six books and has spoken in 50 countries and 49 states. Learn more here.
Heidi Pozzo helps leaders grow their businesses in good times and bad. Before starting her own consulting firm, she helped engineer the turnaround of an $800MM organization. According to Deutsche Bank analyst Mark Wilde, the transformation was considered a "textbook example" of restructuring an old-line business and "may be the best turnaround case study we have seen in the past 25 years." Pozzo was recognized by the Portland Business Journal for her work at Longview as CFO of the Year - Large Company. To contact her, visit www.PozzoConsulting.com.
Founder and CEO of Compass Rose Consulting, LLC, Donna Price has over 18 years of mid and upper management experience. She first worked as an educator and leader in the nonprofit sector, and then moved into business and marketing consulting. Price shares her leadership expertise as the author of three books and in her membership program, Bizology.Biz: The Science of Building a Thriving Business.
Both Dr. Kim Turnage and Larry Sternberg, JD, are senior leaders at the internationally recognized management consulting firm Talent Plus. Turnage has spent her career figuring out where people naturally excel and connecting them with opportunities to stretch those talents. She currently serves as a senior leadership consultant. Sternberg is one the most innovative thinkers in human resources today and has held leadership positions as chair of management consulting, leadership, consulting, and client engagement, and most recently president. Now as a Talent Plus fellow, Sternberg is an often-requested speaker and consultant. Together, Turnage and Sternberg authored the book "Managing to Make a Difference."