Entrepreneurs are detail-oriented people. They know what they want, when they want it, and exactly which steps they need to take to achieve their business goals. This dual focus on big-picture goals and tiny details is invaluable for those working to get their startups or small businesses off the ground. It can, however, sometimes get in the way for entrepreneurs who have made their business dreams a reality and are trying to maintain that iron grip over the venture’s day-to-day happenings. At some point, even the most control-oriented entrepreneur needs to trust that the employees she delegates to can handle the work – maybe even better than she herself can! Here, I outline a few tips I’ve found useful as a delegating entrepreneur.
Don’t just throw a task on an employee’s desk and expect it to be done the way you imagine. Before you even reach out to the employee, you should outline the specifics of the task you plan to delegate. Put yourself in your subordinate’s shoes: what would you ask a manager if they dropped this assignment in your inbox? Have a few answers prepared and ready at hand. Remember, you yourself need to have a clear understanding of the task at hand – otherwise, how could you possibly convey it properly?
A worker needs to know what you expect to be done, how you expect it to be done, and when you need it to be done by. By setting clear expectations upfront, you pave the way to a smooth project execution and delivery later on. That said, managers must keep in mind that how information is conveyed matters just as much as the information itself. Check your tone and attitude! Do employees feel willing to ask questions? If not, you may find yourself needing to rectify miscommunications and mishandled projects down the line.
Confirm Understanding and Commitment
Never assume that an employee understands a project without confirming with them first. Misunderstandings can lead workers to complete tasks incorrectly and ultimately waste their time – and yours! Before you formally hand off a project, ask the employee questions about the task at hand to ensure that they fully understand their responsibilities, deliverables, and deadlines.
Effective communication is a two-way street. Periodically check in with your subordinates to make sure that their projects are on-track and that they themselves are comfortable and engaged in their work. Ideally, they should feel comfortable reaching out to you when they encounter a problem or need clarification on project details. Regular communication between manager and employee builds accountability, and accountability prevents last-minute mistakes.
Relinquishing control can be difficult for detail-driven entrepreneurs, but it is an absolute necessity for long-term business success. One individual can’t handle every aspect of a business! Don’t try to hover or micromanage projects, but trust that the people you hired can handle what you give them. If an employee seems to be veering off-course, try coaching them through the problem rather than stealing the task back. Remember, taking projects you’ve delegated back only overloads your own plate, undermines the employee’s confidence, and produces a lesser-quality product.