18 May 2016
Why do we find delegation so difficult?
Written by Doug D'Aubrey

Some people appear to be masters of delegation – handing out tasks left, right and centre – but generally, in the companies I’ve worked with, I find managers can be hesitant to delegate.

Why is this such an important issue to raise? Put simply, failure to delegate is a recipe for chaos.

Tasks pile up and things start to get missed. This not only creates issues with clients, if deadlines are not met or communication channels fail, but it creates a stressful environment and puts unnecessary pressure on you as a manager.

There comes a point in a business where the number of tasks on a manager’s plate outweighs the number of hours in a day! Holding on to tasks that could be passed to another member of staff, or outsourced to a specialist agency, is one of the biggest barriers to company growth and success.

There can be a number of reasons why we find delegating so difficult, but the most common I’ve found in my experiences as a business mentor and consultant are these:

“I can’t afford to employ more staff”

In smaller firms, it’s often the case that the business owner does everything. This is often a necessity when first starting out, but as the business starts to grow, the to-do list does as well and owners get stuck in that mindset that it all has to remain with them.

As more work comes in, however, there should be increased income to match. Whilst there may not be enough just yet to take on another member of staff, there are cost-effective ways of outsourcing certain tasks that help free up your time to focus on what’s important (like getting client work completed, or sales activity to bring in even more!).

If you find yourself in this situation, think about the work you do that isn’t your forte, and cost out how much it would be to outsource to an expert. Examples might be book-keeping or marketing. These are tasks that can easily be passed to an outside agency, who will charge you an hourly rate for the work they do. Chances are, they’ll also do it much quicker than you because it’s what they’re trained in, and it may cost less than you think.

This doesn’t just free up time, it helps you play to your strengths, which will make you much happier in your job! There are always tasks we put off because we don’t enjoy them. It’s these you should consider delegating.

“No-one else can do this – I’m the only one that knows how”

Of course there may be aspects of a business that only you can do. If you’re a photographer, for example, clients are paying for you, your name, your portfolio, your proven expertise behind the camera – and it would weaken your brand to delegate or outsource to another photographer. But does that mean you can’t outsource the photo editing process, or find someone who can make sales calls on your behalf, or get a virtual PA to handle your calls and diary?

There are always tasks on your to do list that (and here’s the key), with the correct training and information, someone else could do. Not only could they do it, but they could do it very well!

Equally as well as you, in fact. I know for many this can be a difficult concept to grasp, but at some point you have to let go!

Investing a little time in training someone to fulfil a role to your specifications, ensuring consistency in the standard of work produced, will pay dividends in the long run. You can learn to place your trust in the competency of others and re-focus on what you need to do to make your business bigger, better and more profitable.

So, next time you find yourself stressing over your workload, don’t dither. Delegate!

For more practical, straight-forward advice on growing your business and becoming more profitable, take a look at Doug’s book “Getting Down to Business”.