One of the major challenges in business is to ask other people to do the things that only you can do best... Of course, I'm kidding. But only about the last bit. (i.e. that the business owner can do everything better than everyone else).
It's not possible for one person to do it all - even more so as your business grows.
So it's inevitable that we need other people to help. The key issue here is how can we make sure the job is done well: Are there some guidelines to follow?
Our work at BHH brings us into contact with many business owners who face this dilemma on a weekly basis. And we think there are a few rules to try and make this delegation as painless - and even as productive - a process as possible.
First, it's very important that the business owner is clear with staff about the purpose of the business - why does it exist, what does it do for the customer, why is it different? This is essential to set expectation and to enable staff to ensure that their work conforms to this overall purpose. Have you as a business owner made this clear? Are you clear in your own mind what you are in business to do? Are your staff? It is surprising how often this is neglected.
Second, you need to be aware of the difference between "allocation" and "delegation". Asking someone to do something is allocating a task. Delegation, on the other hand, is handing over responsibility for an area of work. This means that the person who undertakes the work gets to decide how to do it themselves. It's important that the way they do this meets the overall mission and culture of the company (see point one). But they are given overall responsibility for the task.
Third, there needs to be a process to evaluate the results once the delegated task is complete. It is essential to sit down with staff to review the task after it is complete: To discuss how it went, perhaps even to disagree about the methods but, essentially, to decide what went well, what could be improved next time.
Fourth, delegation requires management. It is not "abdication", a process we see all too often here at BHH. It means spending time to describe the purpose of what is to be done, to set objectives for the task, to evaluate the results and to learn lessons. It takes time; and it's hard work. The pay-off comes later, not earlier, in a long term process by which staff come to be responsible for more of their own work.
So, while others can never be as good as ourselves (or so we think), we do need others. And, if we are to grow, we need them more than ever.
Therefore the art and practice of delegation is essential for the future success of any business - and the best time to start is now.