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Ask the leader of a small business what they think is the key to success, and they’ll most likely respond with something like ‘having good ideas’, ‘finding the right talent’ or simply ‘hard work’. But while there’s no question these three attributes are of vital importance to small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs), there’s one facet of small business management that so often goes overlooked, and that’s delegation.

The ability to delegate effectively isn’t regularly included among tips for new business professionals, and yet it’s one of the most important traits any business leader or manager should possess. Not just useful for combatting workplace pressure and stress, delegation can actually maximise the success of your business by allowing you to swallow your pride and ask others for help — thus increasing the amount that can be done over any given timeframe.

In his book, The Busy Manager’s Guide to Delegation, Richard Luecke discusses the idea that delegation can help business leaders strengthen their departments by developing the skills and competencies of individual workers. Delegation shouldn’t be seen as a way to pass work off to company underlings, but a practical way to grow and develop the business. The question is: how do we delegate?

Here, we offer 5 simple tips on how to delegate effectively.

Know when to delegate

The first step to successful delegation is knowing when to employ the technique in a real time setting. As your business grows, so will the pressure on your existing workforce, ultimately constraining the amount of work that can be done in a timely and productive manner. In this situation your only option is to delegate tasks to your workforce, or else face losing a handle on the progression of your business altogether.

To help you determine when it’s time to delegate, vocational training specialists, My Training Academy, recommend asking yourself questions to better assess the need and viability of delegation. These include things like:

  • Will this task occur again in the future, and if so, would it be more cost effective to delegate it to a permanent member of staff?
  • Does this task need to be completed to a high standard, and if so, what would the implications be if it were to fail?
  • Are there are any other tasks which can be combined to this responsibility to create a new role within the business?
If you’ve answered yes to any of the above, it’s time to sit down and consider which member of staff to delegate the work to.

The right person for the job

Once you’ve discerned it’s time to delegate, the next step is to choose the right person to fit the criteria. Don’t be tempted to fob work off on just anyone; the success of your delegation efforts hinges on selecting the right person for each job. For that reason, think about the skills and knowledge of your current workforce, and try to marry their experience with the work required. Don’t forget to consider their current workload, too. While giving someone else more work might relieve pressure from your own shoulders, it’s important not to make it a burden for someone else.

Outline your control measures early on

While it’s not something we’d recommend, some business leaders like to micromanage projects delegated to their workforce, particularly in the early stages. Closely monitoring the progress of a task is a great way to ensure all is on track, but make sure the person carrying out the work is aware of your control measures early on. If you butt in to the process down the line, this will only serve to demoralise and demotivate your workforce. Delegation is all about trust, respect and understanding when to take a step back.

Pair responsibility with authority

However small or large the task you wish to delegate, make sure you assess the responsibility attached to it before assigning it to a specific individual. Depending on the risk of failure, and the impact that could have on the business; try to pair the task with someone of the relevant authority level, and someone who has the skills, knowledge and experience to handle the aftermath of any failures.

Top up your delegation skills

Even if you’ve already begun the process of workplace delegation, there’s always room to develop your skills and streamline things further. If you’re interested to find out how you’re able to delegate, check out this online test from Mind Tools. The quiz tests your present delegation skills, before providing you with tailored advice on how to improve in the future — handy for those managers who have already seen the positive effects of delegation in their workplace.

By Scott Beaman, Content Marketing Manager