As a business owner, it can often feel like you have a million things on your plate. The worst part: the things that you are working on today most likely are only tasks that keep your business running, instead of driving growth.
So, what can you do?
Sara Blakely, billionaire entrepreneur and founder of the popular shapewear company Spanx, gave what she called her best advice for fellow entrepreneurs:
“As soon as you can afford to, hire your weaknesses. What you’re not good at is usually what you don’t like.”
How many of the tasks in your workflow are things that you’re not only bad at, but are things that you honestly just wish you could hand off to someone else?
Why don’t you?
For many of us, it’s simply because we don’t know how. So, below, we have shared a helpful list for getting started.
- Pick your teammates carefully
It’s really important to make sure you’re picking someone that is best suited for the work you need to accomplish. Make sure you do the prep work to identify not only the things that you’re handing off but what your prospective employee or virtual assistant will need to know and have to do a satisfactory job.
The list of job requirements and necessary tools for each task you are delegating is just as important as the delegation task list itself. You may also want to share this list with your new hire and let them choose the tasks that they feel match their skillset the best.
Either way, once you have completed this step, you need to…
- Give very clear instructions
Take some time and think about your workflow. You most likely have spent enough time trying to pull all the strings in your business by yourself long enough that you know the best way to tackle these specific tasks so that they don’t take all day. This would be your Standard Operating Procedure (SOP).
Once you have clearly laid that out, arm your assistants or employees with clear targets and Key Performance Indicators (KPIs). Make sure they understand what success in this role looks like. Remember that this is the real focus. At Hire Like Fire, we typically recommend making simple training manuals or videos. This can be something as simple as a desktop recording that you use to show your SOPs, with a companion guide that you’ve thrown together in a Google Doc. Remember: if you were in the shoes of a new-hire (which you probably have been before), you probably would want some kind of reference that you can rely on if you get stuck or have a question.
This is also really important because these resources will be things that you can use again if you ever need a new person to fill that position, or if you end up bringing on another person to help.
Once your team understands what is required of them, step back and…
- Get out of your team’s way
This doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t be managing or supervising your team, but you also should be careful to avoid micromanaging your team.
Hopefully, as part of your initial training, you remembered to give your team enough authority to make certain decisions without them needing to constantly check in with you. Otherwise, you haven’t really delegated much of anything.
This doesn’t mean that you scold or reprimand your team for asking questions, but it also means that you have thought ahead and worked through these SOPs with your new hire in mind. They are seeing these tasks for the first time, and there are sure to be certain stumbling blocks that you would do well to take careful consideration of.
For example: are you delegating a task that requires your virtual assistant to pay for something? Did you give them a way to accomplish this like setting up a secured virtual payment card? A simple system like this ensures that only a specific amount can be spent on specific tasks on specific websites. In the past, you may have whipped out your business credit card and paid for something required for a task without giving it a second thought. Imagine if you hadn’t thought about the ramifications of this for someone besides the business owner. You’d constantly have to be giving your approval for spending when you could have simply set up a basic system for your virtual assistant to use.
This is only one example, but you get the picture. When you’re certain that your SOPs are airtight and devoid of any major pitfalls…
- Provide feedback
Delegation is not a set it and forget it process. Sure, you worked really hard on all the systems and resources you put into place so that your team can succeed, but they aren’t cogs in a machine. Your team is made up of humans performing tasks in a system created by another human (you), and they are just as fallible as you (and your systems) are.
This means that it’s necessary to get and give feedback. Check in on the work your team is doing, see that they understood your instructions, help them find better ways to get things done, and make sure they are doing things the right way. Just as importantly, be receptive to feedback from your team. If they find any flaws in your SOPs, it’s in your best interest to listen and adjust as necessary.
With good communication and regular check-ins, you can ensure a culture of optimization that flows both from the top-down and bottom-up. It’s a 2-way street.
With that spirit of constant improvement in mind, it may also be a good idea to…
- Empower your assistants with further training
Ideally, the people that work with you will be inspired by your leadership and company vision and want to stick around. If you’re really doing your job as a leader, you’ll not only be fostering that as part of your company culture, but you’ll also be providing resources in the form of training to help your teammates gain more skills so that they can enrich themselves, and ultimately your business.
In the past, we have seen clients that allot a certain amount of time during the workweek for their virtual assistants to spend on training. This can be accomplished by using a website like Udemy or Skillshare. Your team can use sites like this to gain really useful skills and talents that will help you to delegate an increasing number of higher-level tasks.
No doubt, your virtual assistant will really appreciate the opportunity to not only learn, but to get paid while doing so. So finally…
- Make sure your team feels appreciated
If you’re like many of the entrepreneurs that find themselves working to become better leaders, you probably have read the book How to Win Friends and Influence People.
If you haven’t, we highly recommend it. However, if you don’t have the time, just check out this summary.
One of the key tenets of the book is to make sure you show and give genuine appreciation – especially for a job well done. Make sure that when you show this appreciation that it is honest and sincere and not just flattery.
Don’t ever take your team or the people on it for granted. Remember where you came from, and what it was like when the team was just you.
It takes a lot of work to become a good leader and delegator. You have to make sure that you fully understand all the ins and outs of what you’re delegating, as well as being dedicated to your team.
However difficult this may be, it is the true key to unlocking more success for your business and all of the people in it.