We entrepreneurs like to think we can do it all. It’s what drives us. It’s what makes us successful in the first place. It’s what makes us think we can do more and have more . . . always.
I’m sure you’ve heard the well-known story of the professor and his seemingly “full” jar that he keeps adding items to—one version has him adding golf balls first, then pebbles and sand and eventually beer—and asking his students at each step if the jar is full. Of course, the students declare the jar full every time, and his ability to keep adding “stuff” to the jar illustrates, among other things, that no matter how busy (or “full”) you think your life is, you can always add (or do) more. (If this doesn’t ring a bell, take a peek at my January 2016 blog, “Business Development 101: Take Care of Your Golf Balls First.”)
Entrepreneurs, leaders, business owners, and many others with similar mindsets always think they can add more to their jars. I know. I’ve been there myself, and in many cases we can. But what happens when life—be it your business life or personal life (or both)—gets so busy that, all superhuman efforts aside, there’s no way you can possibly do it all?
That’s when you need to start thinking about delegating. Yup, the dreaded “D” word that all bosses and leaders fear. Delegating means you rely on someone else do the work you think you should or could be doing.
- If you’re the boss, the leader, the head honcho, chances are you’re the most important person in your company, which means you time is most valuable. Delegating is a way to free yourself from the day-to-day so you can do more of the big picture strategy stuff yourself, such as growing the business.
- Delegation can immediately add more balance to your life at work and at home. Instead of burning the midnight oil nights and weekends, you can be at home with your spouse, your little ones, your pets, and your dear old remote control. Do some delegating at home, such as hiring the kid down the street to mow your lawn, leaving the DIY plumbing to the professionals, or assigning chores to your kids. Do it and you’ll free up even more time on the home front, plus in the case of giving chores to your kids, they’ll learn important things like responsibility, being reliable, and how to manage time and deadlines.
- Needless to say, you’ll do your mental, physical, and spiritual health a world of good. When you have more time for “you,” you have more time for others, such as family, friends, and employees, which they appreciate.
- Delegating boosts your productivity and your company’s productivity. You get more done because, quite frankly, there are more people getting things done.
- Progress gets made with or without you. Business does not come to a grinding halt anytime you take time off or shift your focus elsewhere, and that long-delayed project at home actually gets done!
- Delegating improves results because, let’s face it, if you’re stretched too thin you can’t possibly be at your best at everything.
- Delegating builds greater competency in your organization, increases employee engagement, and builds value for the future.
WHAT TO DELEGATE
- Clearly, daily repetitive tasks are something you should be able to delegate to other team members, especially administrative tasks or tasks/projects that don’t require highly specialized skills. Sure, there could be extra costs involved, but those are likely to be offset by the freed up time you have to do more business development work.
- For those tasks and projects that do require special skills or technical expertise, look to team members (or even outsourcing) as ways to delegate, such as HR, accounting, tax preparation, etc. Think about it. Do you really need to be your own HR team and accountant all-in-one, or are you and your company better served by outsourcing in these and other specialty areas?
- Apply the same thinking to tasks at home, from mowing the lawn, taking out the trash, to maintenance and repairs. Delegate some of that to your spouse and/or children if it makes sense, and outsource the rest.
KEYS TO EFFECTIVE DELEGATION
- First and foremost, you have to have good people with the requisite skills in place that you trust to get the work done. This can be your own staff or external support, or a combination of both—whatever works best for your cost structure and situation.
- Perhaps as important, you need to be able to let go. You’ve been a Jack- or Jill-of-All-Trades for so long that turning important tasks and projects over to others can be difficult if not impossible. But let go you must! Try it. It will feel strange, maybe even awkward at first, but in the end, you’ll be glad you did!
- Give clear direction when delegating, but don’t micromanage. Let those you delegate to create and implement solutions themselves. It gives them an opportunity to grow and shine and builds engagement at work or at home.
Probably NOT Your Ideal Delegation Candidate
I’ll be the first to admit that learning to delegate isn’t easy. It goes against the grain of what’s made us successful. But delegating is healthy—for you, your business, and those around you. Of course, you don’t have to hand off everything that’s important to you to others, but chances are once you begin to experience the benefits of successful delegation, you won’t be sorry you did! Who knows, you might even be able to squeeze a few more items into your jar.
How has being able to delegate changed your life at home and at work? Share your experiences here.
Paul June is King Monkey of BARREL O'MONKEYZ, a San Diego-based strategic marketing agency specializing in Sports and Active Lifestyle markets. We serve as a seasoned, outsourced marketing team for companies looking to ramp up sales and launch new products. Our barrel is full of talent and creative arms ready to prove we don’t just monkey around!