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The Type-A Guide to Delegating with Ease

Look, I know that you feel like no one else can do quite as good a job as you do in your business. I get it. I’m a recovering Type-A personality myself. But, did you realize that this attitude might actually be holding you back from greatness?

Think about it: as good a multitasker as you think you are, there’s really only so much you can do in a day. And you have a very specific set of talents, and that means you also have areas where you struggle or don’t do as well. Maybe you excel at selling, but can’t balance your bank account to save your life. Or maybe you try to design your own website but it ends up taking days and looking, well, not great.

So why stress over trying to DIY on your own? There’s an easy solution to this problem, but it’s one that will require a little letting go.

It’s delegation. The simple act of letting go and finding someone more talented or with more time to help you in specific areas of your business.

The Type-A Guide to Delegating with Ease

It will be a challenge at first for you to be okay with handing the reins over to someone else, but I’ll walk you through it to make it easier.

Step 1: Identify What You Need Help With

It’s impossible for you to manage everything in your business — at least manage it all successfully — so start with the low-hanging fruit. Are there administrative tasks that just eat up time but aren’t overly complicated? Maybe scheduling blog posts or social media updates?

Now look at the responsibilities that simply require a different skillset than you have. Accounting, marketing, and design are all great examples. These are areas that will cause your business to suffer if you don’t get the right person for the role. Goofing up on your taxes could get the IRS beating down your door with an audit. And having a poorly designed logo will turn people off. So, choose the broad categories you need assistant with as well.

Step 2: Outline Exactly What You Need

Being Type-A as you are, you’ll set yourself and the person you hire up for failure if you aren’t detailed in your needs. How can the individual expect to do a good job if she doesn’t know exactly what you want?

This may be time-consuming, but taking the time to write out specific instructions will pay off over and over again when someone can read those instructions and know exactly how to complete a task the way you want it done.

Don’t make any assumptions. Pretend you’re writing instructions for a 10-year-old. Start with the website to visit and the login credentials. Detail what links to click and how to perform the task.

Step 3: Ask for Referrals

Naturally, you will be picky about who you hire. Know first that you don’t necessarily need to hire a full-time employee to get delegation help. You also have part-time employees, freelancers, and third parties who can help a few hours a month, depending on your needs.

Start with your network and ask if anyone can refer you to someone who has skills in the area you need help with. Referrals are more likely to have worked with the individuals they send your way, which should give you at least a little peace of mind about their competencies. Consider both your in-person and social media networks valuable sources for referrals.

If that doesn’t net the results you wanted, start your search the old-fashioned way: on Google. First, decide if you want that person to be local to you. Is it necessary that they come to your office, or would working remotely suffice? This will color how you search. You may also want to include your industry as you search, such as “web designer + medical” so that you can find professionals who have experience in your field.

Before you contact a few promising candidates, spend plenty of time reading their websites. You want to get a sense of their style of work, whether they have experience with what you need, and maybe pricing if it’s listed. Then go deeper and search for reviews online. Not all service providers will be reviewed on sites like Yelp, but if anyone has had issues with a company,  you can be sure they will have trumpeted that fact online.

Step 4: Get in Touch

If you’ve found a few candidates who fit what you’re looking for (and never stop after just finding one), reach out via email or phone. Initially, you just want to find out if they are able to help with what you have going on. If it’s a “yes,” then further the conversation. Ask for examples of their work or to get in touch with clients to talk to them about their experiences working with the individual or company. Ask how they like to work (they’ll likely have an answer about their process). Ask about billing.

At the end of the conversation, you should feel good about retaining the services of this person or company. You should have that gut feeling that it’s the right fit. Even if the answers on paper line up to what you want, if your gut tells you otherwise, listen to it. It’s usually right.

Step 5: Start Training

Once you’ve onboarded your new right-hand man or woman, it’s time to train. You might explain that initially, you’ll want to be heavily involved and that as you’re confident that she’s mastered the skills, you will ease up on the looking over her shoulder. It’s natural that a business owner would want to be involved in an aspect of his business, so don’t be shy about telling her you want to be.

Work through your handy training documents (see? I told you you’d be glad you had them), going through the motions of performing each step yourself. Once she’s grasped a task, ask her to walk through it with you observing. You can do this as often as you need to until she shows confidence in the role.

Even if you’re now ready to set her loose on her tasks, stick around if she needs you to help her or answer a question. It’s a good idea to check her progress once a week, then less often so that you can be reassured that she’s managing her responsibilities as well as — if not better than — you would.

See? That didn’t hurt at all, did it? By letting go of your ego a bit, you are able to invite others who have different skills — as well as that valuable commodity, time — to help you do more with your business.

Image: Businessman drawing on virtual screen “Delegate”.


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Susan Guillory is the President of Egg Marketing & Communications, a content marketing firm based in San Diego. She’s written several business books, including How to Get More Customers With Press Releases, and frequently blogs about small business and marketing on sites including Forbes, AllBusiness, and Tweak Your Biz. Follow her on Twitter http://www.eggmarketingpr.com

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