The Oxford Dictionary defines delegation as “entrusting of authority to a deputy”
In practice, this means breaking down responsibilities into discrete tasks and allocating those tasks to the most qualified person. By delegating you ensure the task is done quickly, effectively and correctly. Most importantly for the small business owner, delegating the tasks you aren’t good at, don’t like or take a long time to do will free your time to complete more of the revenue generating tasks that will move your business forward.
Delegation can be a worry and some people experience barriers to delegation which can feel difficult or even insurmountable. However, the benefits for your business can be huge if you push through the discomfort and learn to delegate effectively.
Here we are discussing delegation of tasks to outsourced service providers rather than the problems of delegation within a large organisation. They share some challenges but delegation to outsourced providers arguably has fewer problems because there are fewer, if any, organisational barriers in place. The small business owner can choose from a range of outsourced providers and pick the one most suitable. They are not constrained by the pool of talent offered by their department as they would be within a corporate setting.
The 7 most commonly experienced barriers are discussed below.
I like doing the task
Although you love doing it, do you do it quickly, effectively and well? Can you complete the task in the same timeframe as an expert in that field? If it is an enjoyable task but one which takes up a lot of your time, can you break down the task, remove and outsource the part that takes a long time, and keep the part of the process you really do enjoy? This would save you some time, still allow you to gain enjoyment from the task.
I can do it better myself
If you really can, then don’t delegate that. But if you can’t then it may be you fear the results of handing over the task to someone else in case they don’t do it quite how you would like it.
Getting over this is down to trust, training and communication. Choose your service provider very carefully. Be sure that you feel comfortable communicating openly with them about what you need.
Be very clear about what you want the outcome to be. Communicate clearly about details, deadlines, layout, format etc. If there is an area you have concerns about, ensure you are particularly clear about your expectations in that area and the reasons why this is important. Be open to answering questions from your outsourced service provider so they can understand your needs and meet them first time. A good service provider will welcome feedback as it allows them to complete the task quickly, accurately and effectively.
I can’t explain what I want
Oddly enough, this isn’t always the insurmountable issue that it might seem to be. Because you are delegating to someone who has expertise in the area, they will also have experience of the problems and pitfalls of what you are trying to do. This reduces the amount of explanation that is needed. Take the problem to them. See what solutions they suggest. You may be surprised.
I’ve worked with people who have rung me up and said “Help. I am drowning. I don’t know what I need, but I know I need help.” With a few carefully placed questions I’m able to identify a place to start that will make a difference quickly, make some suggestions for medium and long-term solutions we can work toward when time allows, and quickly get them from drowning in the deep end to swimming strongly toward the shallow end where they can sit quietly and catch their breath.
No one can do it the way I like it.
It is very rare that this is true. It is almost certainly going to be possible to train someone to do things exactly the way you need them to be done. Take McDonald’s as an example. They train thousands of people to turn out the exact same burger, in the exact same timescale, cook it for the exact time, for all I know they add the exact same size piece of gherkin (which most people throw into the exact same bin).
Yes, if you like things done a certain way then you may need to spend a little more time training your outsourced service provider initially. However, just think how brilliant it will be when you can delegate that task and your provider can turn out the equivalent of those burgers within your business day after day, week after week, same level of detail and just how you like it. At less money per hour than you charge out at. Meaning you save money every single time they do that task. How cool would that be?
I have no time to spend on telling someone else how to do this.
See above. The time invested in training will pay off later. Also, of course, if you are delegating to an expert, they won’t need to be told how to do the task properly… and they might have some fresh ideas that will save you even more time, and money, as well as making your life simpler.
I don’t know who I can trust.
Ask for recommendations and check reviews and testimonials for the people you’ve had recommended to you. Most, if not all, outsourced service providers will have testimonials on their website and LinkedIn profile. Some will have reviews via Google My Business or Facebook. I am very proud of the testimonials I’ve gathered and they are all viewable here.
The testimonials, together with the rest of the website, will give you a great idea about the person, the business, their skill set, the things that drive them to excel and the tasks they have completed for others successfully.
Once you have a shortlist of people whom you think you could work effectively with, get in contact with them and arrange to meet for coffee and a chat. Meet with several people so you can find the one that you will work most effectively with. I am always really pleased when a potential client tells me they are looking at several possible VA’s so they can find just the right one.
I can’t afford it
Say you charge out at £75 an hour. And you decide that you won’t outsource your admin because VA’s are charging out at £25 an hour on average and it’s just admin which you can do yourself. So you spend on average 7 hours a week on your admin. A whole day. That’s £575 a week that you can’t bill for because you are busy doing admin. You are only working on your paid tasks four days a week. Or maybe you do your admin on a Sunday so it doesn’t interfere with your billing of work during the week and get grief off your family for doing admin at the weekend.
Even if your VA can’t do the work any faster than you could, delegating those 7 hours to her would cost you £175 for 7 hours work. Admittedly you’d have one day a week where you billed only £400 a day and not the full £575. But you would be free to bill for five days work every week and not four days. Running at full capacity you could potentially make an extra £400 a week after you’ve paid your VA. Assuming that you take a two week holiday every year, this means that over a full year you would be able to bill a whopping £20,000 extra a year. What could you do with that? Pay for the two-week holiday? Change your car every other year? Private school fees for your children?
The question then becomes, can you afford not to delegate.
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