Personnel Management: Learning to Delegate

Personnel Management: Learning to Delegate

Delegating tasks is a difficult, yet important part of your business.

What do you do when you don't have enough time to get everything done? Do everything yourself anyway? Quickly punt? Or delegate?

You know the right answer, but doing it is one of the most difficult things a manager can learn to do.

"If we don't delegate, you can limit yourself and the business," says Paul Russell, an instructor and founder of ej4, an online business coaching consulting firm based in St. Louis and Kansas City. "Productivity will go down and people won't grow as professionals."

Effective delegation requires some planning, but can pay dividends.

Too often a manager won't delegate because he or she is convinced a task will never be done well enough by someone else. That's just an excuse, says Russell. But how do you start delegating with confidence?

First, get organized. Take a look at the to-do list and look for things around the farm that don’t have to be done by you personally. Now look for repetitive tasks. If you can identify those you'll free up time for yourself repeatedly, rather than just once.

Choose a person to whom you will delegate those things. Is it someone who works on the farm, or a family member?

Lastly, define the task to another person so that a) it is clearly understood, b)  that you define the standard of how well it needs to be done, c) can demonstrate the importance of this task, and d) explain when the task must be done.

What's next

Do they need to watch you do this task to understand how it should be done? Maybe, depending on the complexity. But start first by explaining the task.

At this point, you may need to give this person some authority to go along with this new responsibility.

Next, the most important thing is for you to get out of the way. When the task is complete, inspect their work and give them feedback. If they did it well, praise them. If they did it poorly have a concerned, honest conversation away from anyone else.

Be careful your help does not try to 'reverse delegate' the task. That's when they purposefully do a poor job so you take the task away from them. Who's managing who, here?

If that happens, pretend you're not frustrated or angry, just smile and say 'no, I'm concerned this isn't done up to standard so I'll explain it to you again,' or watch them dodo the task again. Be calm, cool and collected. You need to demonstrate you have all the patience in the world. If necessary attach penalties or benefits to good or poor work.

"Stick with this and you will have created more time for higher priority tasks for yourself," says Russell. "Plus, for most people, you will have given them more responsibilities, expanded their horizons, let them learn new things and helped build their skillset for promotions later on. Most people will like it!"

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