Working women

How to delegate… if you hate delegating

Most of us know the importance of delegating when we’re running a small business. And if we’re solopreneurs, shifting stuff from our to-do-list onto someone else’s makes even greater sense.

We can’t do it all even if we like to think we can. And more than that, we shouldn’t.

Because if we’re working every hour that’s feasible and then some, it will end in tears. (And, yes – to be clear – the tears will be our own).   

Yet, even though we’re aware of this, so many of us still don’t do it. Why? Simply because we hate delegating!

It seems strange that we should hate something that benefits us. After all, delegating certain tasks to other people means getting more things done in less time. And, if carried out correctly, the extra time we gain can be used to focus on our priorities without feeling the pressure to put our energies into minor tasks too.

The optimum phrase here, though, is “if carried out correctly”. You see, while delegating sounds perfect on paper, we often believe it won’t be so peachy in reality.

Give up control or micromanage?

For starters, many may think that delegation means giving up control. And if you’ve invested your time, energy and money into building a small business from the ground up, you may feel uneasy handing over the reins of certain responsibilities to another.

The other side of that is the worry that you’ll be forced to micromanage and lose whatever extra time you thought you had recovered.  

But while these concerns are valid they’re not insurmountable. The truth is, there are several ways that you can delegate effectively – even if you hate delegating! Here’s how:

Know why you need to delegate

Delegating frees up your time to work on what matters most in your business. But you need to be very specific about what that work entails as it’ll bring home the benefits of why you’re doing it and help you feel more comfortable passing the buck on smaller tasks.

If, for example, you know that to really grow your business you need time for strategic planning, sales calls or fundraising, then it makes sense to shift the two daily hours spent on social media updates or content creation into someone else’s inbox.

Take a sheet of paper and jot down 3-5 business activities that are absolutely necessary for you to do to move your business forward.

Following that, make a list of all the tasks you engage in every day. Which of these have little to do with your priority business activities? These may be the jobs you need to assign to someone else.  

Delegate to tech

As a solopreneur or someone just starting out, bringing another person on board may feel too much of a burden on your current budget. However, there are ways to get around this.

Initially, you can forgo employing a person and instead cut back your workload by using technology tools.

For example, if, as noted above, social media is proving a time suck, check out automation tools that allow you to bulk upload and schedule posts, or even create the content. Tailwind and SocialPilot are two that come to mind.

There are also several tools that help you organise and prioritise projects within your workload. Trello and Calendy are two well-known tools that fall into this category but there are so many more. For example, business updates in Google Workspace allow you to collaborate with others in real time, work across various platforms simultaneously and even integrate with CRM systems as well as other productivity applications. 

Fact is, whatever your productivity needs are, you can bet on there being a tech tool or app that you can delegate that task to.

That said, technology will only take you so far and if you really are to grow your business then you will need human help to do that!

But there’s no reason for you to break the bank just to have some additional support. You can hire a virtual assistant (VA) to help you for as little as 30 minutes a week.

Most VAs charge between €15 and €30 per hour, so depending on your budget you can start small by delegating one or two minor tasks for them to do and take it from there.

Start small

“Starting small” isn’t just about budgets either. Smaller tasks typically include administrative duties such as organising documents, preparing information for meetings, updating changes to the website, making business travel arrangements, etc.  

Though often they don’t take up much time, together they could account for an hour or two of your day or week.

And because they’re more general responsibilities, it’s unlikely you’ll feel a real attachment to them or want to oversee each step of their execution.

Delegate your least favourite activities

Sometimes the reason you’re reluctant to let go of a task is because you enjoy it or it’s a perfect match to your skillset. So it stands to reason that if you assign those jobs to someone else you’ll be inclined to find fault with or keep checking up on their way of managing them.

It’s a much better idea to identify those jobs you’re least confident in doing or that feel like a chore and delegate them first and foremost. 

Of course, an important part of the overall success here is to ensure the person you’re delegating to has some expertise in the relevant areas.

Put together a playbook

Finally, if control or fear of inaccuracy is what’s holding you back from delegating, one of the most important steps you can take (and should take anyway in all instances where you’re delegating) is to create a playbook highlighting best practices and the specific step-by-step processes you want implemented. 

You need to be 100% clear about your expectations. So, include everything from where certain information can be accessed to deadline dates relating to social media content, newsletters, sales follow-ups, etc. It’s your playbook, so your rules. 

And, while it’ll take a few focused hours to put the playbook together, it’ll be absolutely worth it because it will enable you to pass on a clear and concise outline of how particular tasks need to be carried out. 

And not only will this help you become an efficient and successful delegator, who knows – you might even start to enjoy it!

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Gabrielle Collard
Verified Coach
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I’m a Marketing Consultant and Strategic Business Coach from London. For enquiries email gabrielle@thecoachspace.com or connect with me on LinkedIn.

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