Fighting the 4 demons of delegation

4 Demons of Delegation and Task Management in Small BusinessWe all have our own personal demons, and they have their origins in many different places. They could be rooted in our past and how we were raised, in our personal challenges, in our self-image. We’re not going to get into all that, which would probably require hundreds of posts as well as therapy sessions and group hugs.

However, when it comes to the reasons why we won’t, can’t or are wary of delegating tasks and responsibilities, these four demons raise their ugly heads time and time again.

1. Perfection
Most of us who run businesses want things perfect, and we want our employees to buy into the goal of perfection. The problem with perfection is that it falls under the economic principle of “law of diminishing returns.” That means that for every additional expenditure of time, effort or money, you get less and less improvement of performance, and every additional unit of effort/time/money results in smaller and smaller enhancements.

So if you delegate a task and expect perfection, your employees may be working too many extra hours on something that was good enough a long time ago. Yes, we all want to deliver the best possible product possible. But we also need to deliver it, and the drive for perfection often gets in the way of delivery.

2. Doing things “your way”
When I delegate a task, I have a picture in my head of what it should take to get it done and what the finished product should look like. The problem here is that there may be dozens of viable routes that lead to the finished product and that the end product in my head may not be the best or only way to go.

Often we have to adjust our vision when we delegate tasks, giving our staff and contractors a clear picture of what our end goal is and guidance on how they can get there. Then we simply need to get out of their way, providing assistance along the way if they need it.

3. Micromanagement
Some of the worst run businesses I have ever worked in were run by micromanagers, people who simply had to know at all times who was working on what and how they were doing the job. Not only does this drive employees nuts and make them think that the boss doesn’t have faith in their abilities, but it also slows work down to a crawl because things stop whenever the boss has to approve something or make changes to something.

If an employee is new to your business or needs some handholding with a new responsibility, then closer supervision may be called for. But if this is something that they can certainly take care of on their own, then let them do their job in relative peace. This is why you hired them in the first place.

4. Distrust
This is the toughest demon to fight, mainly because trust issues aren’t overcome in a mere blog post (this is where a business coach or therapist can pay big dividends).

But before you seek professional help (and, hey, we’ve all been there to some extent), think about why you might distrust a particular employee when it comes to delegating work to them. Have they let you down before? Are they not up to the job? Do they not have the right skill sets to get the job done? The answers to these questions will point you to a solution, whether it’s getting them training, talking to them about an “attitude adjustment” or even showing them the door and hiring someone else who can do the job.

Delegation isn’t easy, but it gets easier the more you do it and the more you trust your staff and contractors. Start with small tasks and work your way up.

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