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3 Strategies for Successful Delegation

By Peter Smith

Successfully running a business that has grown beyond the sole trader or family-run limited company requires learning to delegate. Successful delegation requires an understanding of how people work in a given environment. And because delegation is as much psychology as it is business, failing to understand staff members and their individual personalities can harm the business owner’s efforts to delegate.

A big part of my small business coaching is helping clients successfully delegate. I work with clients to better understand what it means to delegate tasks and authority simultaneously, so that any staff members given additional responsibility have the authority to carry out what they have been assigned to accomplish. Far too often, I see instances in which delegation fails because the person at the top does not truly understand all its implications.

As a general rule, small business mentors teach three strategies for successful delegation. Each is listed below along with a general description.

1. Match Tasks with Personalities

The number one rule of delegation is to match tasks with personalities. In other words, every delegation scenario involves certain tasks that a business owner no longer has the time or interest to take care of. It could be that the owner’s personality does not allow him or her to handle the task effectively. This suggests that whoever the task is delegated to needs to have the personality to match.

Matching tasks with personalities is about finding a staff member who will embrace the new task with the necessary mindset, temperament, and skill sets. Failing to find a proper match could mean delegating tasks to someone who really cannot handle them and is unwilling to try. And where there is no willingness, there tends to be no interest or passion either.

2. Match Delegation to the Immediate Need

Next, delegation should be about the need at hand. If it is an immediate need brought about by a growth spurt, unusual client demand, etc., the business owner may not have the time to delegate to an inexperienced person. Such immediate tasks are not the time to undertake employee training. The delegate should be an experienced staff member who can handle the need. Less immediate needs can be delegated to less experienced staff members as a means of training.

3. Keep a Hands-Off

The hardest part of delegation for a lot of business owners is actually letting go once tasks have been delegated. As a small business coaching expert, it has been my experience that the more hands-off an owner can be, the better the outcome. When delegating, it is best to only exercise oversight authority if the staff member in question is struggling to the extent that the business or its reputation could be harmed.

Small business mentors across the UK routinely assist their clients with learning how to delegate. If delegation is a problem for you, it does not have to be. Let us work together to change things for the benefit of both your company and staff.

By Peter Smith.

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