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Learning How To Delegate (As A Control Freak)

Learning how to delegate
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Learning how to delegate when you’re a control freak can be somewhat of a challenge!

Actually you don’t even need to be a control freak to struggle.  We see such a range of ‘delegatability’ (new word!) across new clients we work with we’ve designed an onboarding process to help them.

In this article we’ll share 5 tips to help you, because successful delegation, in short has 3 outcomes:

  1. You’ll get more done across your business.
  2. You’ll have more time to spend doing tasks you should be doing.
  3. You’ll get your life back!

Honesty time ! Are you ...

Don’t panic if you are, this is a judgement-free zone! The pressures of running a business can make you hold tightly onto control, but this will hold you back. Learning to delegate is an essential skill as a leader, one that will get your productivity to skyrocket. But this transition can be quite a challenge, so we’re here to help you!

Step 1: Change your mindset

The biggest hurdle you face learning to delegate is being stuck in your ways or reluctant to change. It’s normal to be afraid of letting go of control, that if you don’t do everything yourself then nothing will be up to par. But micromanaging will prevent your business from expanding and frustrate your team who will feel that you don’t trust them. It’s crucial to focus on the positives instead of being ruled by your fears. The more you hold onto a closed-minded outlook, the harder it is to unlearn.

Step 2: Evaluate your workload

You need to decide which tasks you should delegate before you actually hand them off to someone. Take stock of how you spend your time over a 7-10 day period, then determine which tasks don’t have to be done by you. 

If someone else could complete a task just as well as you, and you have a long list of things taking time away from your genius zone, you could massively increase your workplace productivity. You can take the task test to identify how you should be prioritising your time, any exercise like this is extremely valuable!

Step 3: Prepare your SOPs

Writing detailed, step-by-step instructions of how any task must be performed is a must for any delegation, but especially important if you have reservations about relinquishing control. Be sure to include photos and screen recordings (Looms), or anything else that will help clearly explain the procedure. You should also include a brief explanation of the purpose and intended outcomes of the task, this will help the person who is performing it understand its relevance to your big picture. Ensure the SOP is easy to follow and doesn’t exclude any information.

Don’t forget that your delegate should have access to all resources and accounts they will need to complete their assigned task. Take care to ensure any confidential information (e.g. logins and passwords) are exchanged securely.

Click here for more detail on writing a ‘good’ SOP or procedure. 

Step 4: Chose the right person

Assigning the right person to delegate to needs to be thought out carefully. Each task must be matched with the right individual, whether they’re a member of your team, a VA or another third party. For people who have trouble delegating, setting up a meeting to talk to the candidate about the task is a must. Meeting face to face (or on Zoom) is a great way to establish trust by giving you a chance to discuss the task, explain the procedure (in a more concise way than the SOP), and for both of you to ask questions. You want to ensure they not only fully understand the task, but that they have the required skills to complete it to your satisfaction.

TIP: we have accountability or quality control measures built into all our procedures.  This ensures the business owner retains control by knowing what to check for and the delegate can easily review to mitigate possible errors or risk.

Remember that you don’t have to jump in the deep end with delegation. Start with low-risk tasks, or partially delegate tasks so that they create a draft for you to review and add final touches.

Read this article below for more tips on building trust with a VA:

Step 5: Schedule Check-Ins

Finally, you must establish clear and committed methods of maintaining communication. Delegation is an investment, which means it can take some time at first. Scheduling regular check-ins help build trust, and they serve as a milestone that encourages accountability. It also gives you an opportunity to give (and receive) feedback!

This is an opportunity for you and your team to grow, and when you build enough trust that you can openly share ideas, positive reinforcement and constructive criticism, you are growing as a leader.

It’s important to provide support to your team and credit them for their efforts, and check-ins on the progress of a task or project is a great way to do this.

Bonus: Resist the urge to regress!

When things get difficult, resist the urge to regress back to your old control-freak ways. It’s inevitable that there will be times that you delegate something and aren’t happy with how it’s done. Or you might get discouraged by the time it takes to organise delegation, since preparing SOPs, training and checking-in can chew up a lot of time initially. Your instincts will kick in and you’ll be tempted to double down on micromanaging. Instead, turn your frustration into an opportunity.

Reflect on what went wrong, how this mistake could be prevented in the future, and what else you can learn from this experience.

It’s not until we properly evaluate a situation that we determine what went wrong, whether it was an issue with pairing a delegate with a task, the instructions, a lack of communication or something else entirely. If you can get past this without regressing to your do-it-myself habits, you will be much stronger as a leader.

And achieve much more in the long run!

Learning how to delegate
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