Sunday, May 9

How to Stop Doing Everything Yourself



It’s Friday afternoon and you are about to call it a day. You open up your project management software (or paper planner if you are old school) and you review your task list for the week. Despite your best efforts and working overtime almost every single day, you still only managed to get about half of the things on your list done. And this week you were more productive than the week before. 

Over the last 20 years, I have heard this same story thousands of times over. And when it comes down to it, a lot of business owners aren’t very skilled at the art of delegation. They may struggle with knowing when to hand off a project to a team member, how much or how little supervision is needed, and when and how to close the loop on a project that they have handed over. So, today I wanted to share with you how I teach my business coaching clients to stop doing everything themselves and start delegating projects to their team. 

What Are They Capable Of?

When you are thinking about delegating a project to someone else, the most important thing you can ask yourself is “what are they capable of?” Think about a scale that goes from one to 10 and measures your employee’s capability to handle a particular task. On the lower end of that scale, at a one, the person has very little experience and very little skills. They have very little capability with the project, activity, or task that you’re delegating to them. And so they’re going to need a lot of help to complete the task on time. 

On the opposite end of the spectrum, at the nine or 10 level, you have someone who really knows this work inside and out–maybe even better than you do. And if you coach them too much, they’re going to feel like they’re being micromanaged.

Once you think about what they are capable of, you can then decide how to proceed with the delegation. 

Very Little Expertise: 1-3.

If you rank a team member a 1, 2, or 3, you may want to rethink the delegation all together. They don’t have the skill set yet to complete the task efficiently and will likely end up causing more work for you in the long run. You can have them shadow you as you do the task, so that in the future they may rank higher and be able to take the task on themselves. 

Moderate Level of Expertise: 4-6.

At this level, chances are you will be able to delegate many of your lower-level tasks and some of your higher-level ones. Depending on the project itself, you may even be able to give them autonomy and let them operate without your input. But make sure to check back with them at regular intervals to see if they are experiencing any roadblocks or issues along the way. 

If it is a high-stakes task, you may want to take a more hands-on approach to ensure that it gets completed on time.

High Level of Expertise: 7-10.

At this level, the person likely needs very little, if any, hand holding. In fact, they may find it upsetting if you treat them like they were a low or moderate level of expertise. These team members can take the details of a project, flush out the particulars, perform the needed action items and will circle back with you at the end of the project to let you know the outcome. 

So next time you’re delegating, ask yourself how capable the person you are asking is at the task at hand? How you answer will guide you on the next steps to take, to get it off your to-do list and done faster. 

The opinions expressed here by Inc.com columnists are their own, not those of Inc.com.



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