Hate to break it to you, but we’re still pretty far away from the days when you can clone yourself and run your startup exactly how you want. We might get there someday, but science has a long way to go (hey - maybe that could be your next investment). For now, you’ve got a business to run and a few startup roles you need to fill.
As their companies grow, entrepreneurs often discover a new challenge: delegating tasks effectively. Sometimes it’s a challenge because your team needs detail but you’re a big-picture thinker. Other times, it’s tough because it’s surprisingly hard to trust that others can do a task as effectively as you can. Whatever the case, delegating isn’t easy. So if you’re struggling with effectively planning next steps with your team, here are 3 steps to help:
Step 1: Find People You Can Trust
No one’s going to care as much about your baby as you, unless you’ve got a few co-founders who built the company alongside you. And nobody else has as much on the line as you do. But it is possible to find people who are passionate about your mission, take pride in what they do, and have the necessary skills and personality to do their job exceptionally well. It may not be easy, but when you finally do find the right people for those vital startup roles, your employees will be able to carry out projects at the same level - or better than - you would. If you don’t feel like you can trust your team, you won’t be able to delegate properly.
Step 2: Establish Methods of Communication
No parent hands their child off to a babysitter without also providing a way to contact you if something goes wrong. They might have to get in touch with you, or you might need to check in with them. You’re in charge of your company, so you should always have a good idea of what’s going on, even if you aren’t executing it yourself. That’s why it’s important to establish strong lines of communication: it’s an opportunity to check in at any point and see what your team’s working on, and it also provides an opening to offer feedback when necessary. This may be in the form of an at-a-glance dashboard, or perhaps it’s a more robust collaboration tool. Whatever you choose, it should be easy to see status updates and get a clear sense of how things are progressing.
In addition to the quick-glance options, you’ll want to set up regular 1:1 meetings to strategize and discuss issues or opportunities. Disseminating tasks throughout a company can be more effective if those projects are discussed in 1:1 scenarios as well as general team meetings. Details can be hashed out, priorities can be reinforced, and any additional questions can be cleared up. Sometimes it's easy to assume people just get what you're trying to say, but there should always be opportunities to request and provide clarification.
Most importantly, don’t micromanage. Instead, act as a resource and stay in the know to change direction if you see that things are going off course.
Pro Tip: Wondering if it's truly time to hire some new employees? Watch for these 5 signs.
Step 3: Relinquish Control
The final step is about acceptance. Acceptance of the fact that you have no other choice but to let go. People will make mistakes that may or may not have been preventable. But they will learn from them and do better the next time. If a mistake does happen, you’ll have already set up the most effective communication channels to analyze the issue, reset, and improve. Nobody’s perfect, including yourself, and just as you’ve learned from your mistakes to get to where you are now, your team will do the same. And as your startup grows, there will be more people – and maybe more mistakes. It’s best to learn to let go early on, so that the company is ready to roll with the punches in the future.
Delegating isn’t easy, but you’ve climbed higher mountains before. Consider these steps as you get ready to pass more responsibility to your team, and you might find that this growing pain isn’t as painful as it seems. Go to sleep at night knowing that you’ve put the right people in place, with adequate support to do their best work. That means that you’ve done your job to the best of your ability – and that's really the most important thing.
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