How Not to Get Burned By Delegating

Here’s the scene. . . .

Your constantly expanding to-do list is weighing you down, stripping you of the entrepreneurial joy that inspired you to start your business.

Then, a ray of light—a beam of hope—seemed to appear out of nowhere.

…okay, it wasn’t that dramatic.

It’s just that your close friend filled your head with almost “too-good-to-be-true” stories of how all you needed to do was place a help-wanted ad in this one well-known database, which would make it easy to find qualified, inexpensive candidates.

Almost immediately after posting the job description, an experienced, eloquent professional applied.

You felt like you won the lottery, hired her on the spot, and sent her a few projects on your to-do list.

Ahhhhh!  Relief!

Well, for a few days at least…

Trouble is, when you checked in with your new assistant a few days later, you discovered she finished one of the tasks but didn’t complete them in the prescribed manner, and she hadn’t even touched the others.

The weight of despair returned, almost heavier than before.

Your inner voice was shouting to you “I told you so!  You should have done the work yourself.  No one can take care of things the way you can.”

Maybe you haven’t been burned by this kind of delegation experience. Perhaps your fear of this kind of situation is what’s keeping you from delegating.

Just follow these four strategies to avoid these delegation nightmares.

1.     Get very clear about what you’re going to delegate and what specific skills your assistant needs to possess.

You might be freaking out about your workload and desperately looking for the quickest way of dealing with the situation.

However, you’ve got to take the time (maybe even just 20 minutes) to get clarity about these issues so that you can create a comprehensive job description that will help ensure you get the right assistant!

You don’t want to waste time and money on an assistant who isn’t qualified.

2.     Never hire the first person who applies, at least not until they’ve proven to be a good match.

You won’t save time by making a rash decision.

Even if a candidate looks amazing, it’s worth it to hire her to complete a small project before committing to a longer-term assignment.

If you’re looking to hire someone to work with on an ongoing basis, I recommend setting up a slightly longer trial period after making the official hire.

Your business is your baby!  You want to make sure you’re giving it the best of the best.

3. Never expect team members to read your mind.

Many clients have vented to me about how frustrated they are when their assistants don’t properly complete tasks.  Sometimes the mistake really is the fault of the assistant, but it often turns out that the problem is due to faulty or inadequate instructions.

Even the best specialists need adequate direction from you.

Sometimes this means letting them know the specific outcome you need and letting them draw on their expertise to achieve it.

Other times, step-by-step instructions for completing projects are necessary, and it’s up to you to provide them.   It’s always great if you can provide examples of the end result.

4.     Never set it and forget it.

Communicating effectively is one of the most important aspects of delegation.

As the boss, you’ve got to set the tone by assigning very clear deadlines and creating a follow-up schedule suited to the task and assistant.
For some projects, especially when you are working with seasoned professionals, a milestone schedule might be best.  For others—a mentoring or guiding type of relationship would serve better.

Ready for a challenge?

If you’ve been burned by previous delegation experiences or have been putting off hiring someone, I challenge you to get started this week by taking at least one step forward.

Leave a comment below about your personal delegation tips.

Image credit: Pen & Notebook

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