You know the saying, “it’s hard to find good help”? It’s a copout, and here’s why.
If you hire people simply to do your bidding, that’s what they’ll do.
And, in the process, you’ll constantly field their questions or
problems if anything out of the ordinary happens. It’s all well and good
to have an open-door policy, but if it feels like a revolving door, you
may never get to your own work. The secret to getting the best from
employees is understanding when and how to delegate.
For fast-growing startups that are, say, hiring a first,
second or even tenth employee the nut of delegating can be tough to
crack. But if you ever want to get eight hours of sleep a night again,
it’ll behoove you to figure this out now.
Here are eight ways for improving your delegating skills as your business grows:
1. Hire team members, not order-takers. When
you hire people, look for those who are willing to take initiative and
work independently. You don’t want someone who expects the same level of
training available in a large corporation. Ask probing questions to
help ferret out their capabilities, such as: “Give me an example of a
time when you had a project to accomplish and didn’t know where to start
— what did you do first?”
2. Delegate in stages. Even an employee with
initiative can be overwhelmed if you dump lots of duties on them and
then close your office door. Have new employees shadow you as you
demonstrate how to handle various aspects of the job. Start small and
increase responsibilities as the employee shows the ability to handle
it. Strive to challenge an employee without expecting too much too soon.
3. Delegate responsibilities, not just tasks. Rather
than assigning work to someone, give them the responsibility of heading
up an area. For example, instead of giving your employee a list of
customers to bill, have he or she manage billing. With your employee
developing systems that work and troubleshooting problems, you will have
more free time to focus on your own concerns — and they’ll feel
4. Encourage initiative. One way to do this is to
let your employees know that if they feel comfortable making a decision
they should make it. Over time, their comfort-zones will expand and they
will need to ask for help less and less. If you are not confident in
your employees’ ability to make decisions on their own, you’ve hired the
5. Accept mistakes. No matter how good your
employees are, they don’t have the knowledge and expertise that you
have. Mistakes will be made. What’s important is having everyone learn
from them and move on.
6. Avoid blame. The magic words here are, “I don’t
care about whose fault it is, I care about solving the problem.” Once
your staff realizes that attention is on solutions instead of who
“caused” the problem, the pressure to use CYA behaviors will diminish
and real responsibility will evolve.
7. People do things differently. No matter how good
your employees are, they’re not you. They will approach their business
responsibilities in different ways. Sometimes those ways may not seem as
good to you, but as long as the job gets done professionally and to
your quality standards, let go of the process. It’s the results you care
8. Be prepared for happy surprises. When you hire
talented people and give them autonomy, you will find out that they
often find better ways to do things than you did originally. Enjoy this.
It’s not a challenge to your capabilities. It’s a gift for your