Business owners struggle under massive workloads. The insanity of the day-to-day prevents them from being as focused, clear, and effective as they want to be and could be.
The solution, of course, is delegation. Handing over tasks that don’t cater directly to your strengths and that don’t drive business growth frees you up to spend more and more time on what matters most.
Of course, it’s easier said than done. You understand intellectually that you need to delegate; maybe you’re not sure how to go about teaching others to perform critical tasks effectively.
If you’re like a lot of business owners, you want to hand off complex tasks but you want to be confident they get done how and when you need them done. There’s a method of delegation called the “Apprenticeship Plan” that lets you spend more energy and effort on initiatives that’ll move the needle in your business.
The 4-Step Apprenticeship Plan
The process of bringing someone up to speed on a new task doesn’t need to be a haphazard, hit-or-miss approach that leaves you wondering if your delegation worked. Based on powerful learning principles that professional educators and trainers follow, here are four simple steps to guide you in the process:
- First, DO the task while your apprentice WATCHES you.
- Next, DO the task while your apprentice HELPS.
- Third, your apprentice should DO the task while you HELP.
- Finally, your apprentice should DO the task while you WATCH.
You’ll be surprised at how effective this is. Depending on the complexity of the task, you can also supplement with reading material and feedback sessions. In Step 1, if there’s some pre-reading they can do, give it to them. During Step 3, ask them how they think they did and add your own feedback about how they can do better. After Step 4, hold another short feedback session.
After following the Apprenticeship Plan, your delegee should be good to go–but it doesn’t hurt to check in with them occasionally to see what support they might need.
Create a culture where your key leaders also delegate.
Managers can often be as much of a bottle-neck in business growth as you are if they’re not delegating effectively. As you begin to hand-off important tasks to your team, your key leaders will naturally start to do the same. But be deliberate about it—work with them individually to set delegation as a goal, help them identify their own strengths and the strengths of their team, and coach them on what to delegate.
Delegation is not comfortable; how to get started
Your company got to where it is because you were good at doing a lot of the work. And it was often work you’re good at and work you enjoyed. When you begin to delegate that work, what do you do with the time it frees up for you? That’s an uncomfortable place to be because it means your days are going to start looking different. That’s the uncomfortable next step—focusing on areas where you might not feel so comfortable but that are high payoff areas for the company… like leadership, people development, strategy and long-term planning, marketing and sales, interviewing outside support people, examining the competition, or analyzing the economic environment.
This is frequently the time that a business owner reaches out to a business coach. A coach will help you incrementalize the process—what’s one thing you can delegate, then what’s one activity you can add, and then do it again and again. Delegating and taking on a new project incrementally makes it safer and less daunting to achieve.
As you embrace delegation in your company, you’ll create a culture of growth, responsibility, and efficiency–leading to more free time for you, a calmer existence, an empowered and satisfied staff, and steadily increasing profits.
For more details on the whole idea of delegation, why, and how to do it, download our free whitepaper, “Growth Without Delegation: It’s Impossible.”
What about you? How do you ensure that your team members are empowered in the tasks you delegate to them? Share your tips and tricks in the comments below!