Mastering the art of delegating

Delegating isn't easy, but you have to do it. When it was just you, you enjoyed taking risks and you did it all the time. But now that you have a staff, you have to consider your risks more carefully.

Are there are some tasks you like more than others? From now on, you'll need to focus on managing in order to grow your business. Delegating isn't easy, but you have to do it. When it was just you, you enjoyed taking risks and you did it all the time. But now that you have a staff, you'll have to consider your risks more carefully.

You need to move away from your role of entrepreneur to help your business grow. Resist the temptation to do everything yourself and overcome your fear of losing control. Trust yourself and your associates and start delegating!

When businesses delegate properly, employees and managers are more responsible, more competent and more independent.

But delegating doesn't mean unloading tasks and leaving employees in the lurch. You have to think through your approach and help employees transition into their new roles by providing the support they need to succeed.

Here are the rules of thumb for effective delegating and what you should ask yourself to remember each rule.

Identify the tasks and responsibilities to delegate - What?

At the beginning you'll need to delegate gradually, starting with operational rather than strategic responsibilities. That way you will avoid making a faux pas that could hurt the team or the business. Your objectives should be specific, measurable, attainable, realistic and time-specific.

Find the right time - When?

In some cases you may have no choice but to delegate. It's usually a personal and structural choice, for example to cut your workload as your business grows, or a strategic choice, such as to take your business to the next level or improve efficiency. Make sure the time is right for change and improvement.

Identify the person - Who?

When looking for the right person to delegate to, be sure not to choose your identical twin—someone with the same energy level and personality. The person should not be an extension of yourself, but rather an employee who is there to gain experience and grow. You need to choose the right person with the right skills who is free and motivated to take on more responsibility. That means you need to know your team inside and out. Once you've identified who you want to delegate to, meet and talk with that employee.

Determine the general framework - What?

To delegate effectively, you'll have to establish a clear framework and parameters. You'll have to clarify both parties' expectations and the objectives, and visualize the steps together. Don't confuse being lax with delegating. You need to establish a framework and regularly have the person meet with and report to you so you can make adjustments as needed. Your top priority is to make yourself heard and understood and to give a clear role to the employee you'll be delegating to.

Support and communicate - How?

It is important to trust the person you choose and give them free rein, but don't just let them sink or swim. Keep your door open and be available if they're having trouble or need help or advice. Throughout the process, provide constructive feedback and sincere recognition in order to motivate them and help them grow professionally. Lastly, don't be overbearing or heavy-handed. Instead, act like a coach.

Evaluate - How?

Don't evaluate the person's performance, but rather the delegation process and approach. Assess both yourself and your associate. Look at individual professional development and business practices to identify outcomes, shortcomings, causes, bright spots and areas for improvement. This is a great way to gain insight into processes and practices so you can avoid making the same mistakes in the future.

Delegating is an art. Once you've mastered it, you won't go back! It will save you time that you can then devote to development strategies, business expansion, strategic alliances and more. And you'll have new, competent associates you can count on—not to mention the satisfaction of having contributed to their professional development.