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You have a dream and create your start-up and work through the night until you almost drop. You think hiring people is really going to help. It starts to feel like a ‘real’ company. Now you have people to delegate to. But then you discover that paradise – as my mother’s favourite saying goes – is flawed.  

Not only do the recruits not think like you – or even do as you asked – but there are miscommunications that create wasted time and energy. You expend effort chasing, re-directing and managing people instead of building your dream business. Would it be easier if you just did everything yourself? You recall the all-nighters and wonder if it was better that way. But wait! There are solutions!

Why don’t my staff think like me?

Why aren’t people doing things the way you do? The answer is simple – because they are not you! The sooner you realise that, the easier life becomes.

Of course, it’s not always like this. Sometimes delegating to your team works like clockwork. Having like-minded people around that you can trust, respect, care about, enjoy and journey with is a precious place to be – In fact, it’s one of the greatest and most rewarding joys of being in business. It is the closest thing to paradise.

The fault lies with us as business owners and managers

But delegating often does not work well and while you may have not hired well (which is never your employees’ fault) the difficulty often lies with us as business owners in not communicating effectively.

It is not that different for personnel in big corporates as it is for us in entrepreneurial SMEs. Activity doesn’t equal productivity. Being busy isn’t clever, but being productive is.

So why do we struggle with delegation in practice?  

The answers are usually self-evident – you are not being clear. That, or your employees are not being trained to ask the right questions.

Of course, you may not have hired an appropriate fit – in which case the kindest thing you can do is move employees on, preferably when they are in probation. But when you start thinking ‘it’s quicker to do this myself’, it suggests that delegation – or operational delivery – isn’t stacking up.

The Taurus Top Secrets to Better Delegation:
Mimic the SOS Morse code

When one ship sends a message to another, they use Morse code; a series of taps and signals that spells out an entire message. When one ship receives the code it will repeat the message back, word-for-word. There is simply no room for error.

In the same way, when you delegate a task, ask your team member to repeat the instructions back to you. This way you can pick up any miscommunications and ensure that your request has been understood.

The Boomerang Method

When you throw a boomerang, it comes back to you. Simply put, this is what you want with delegated tasks. Ensure your team member understands that the task isn’t truly complete until a confirmation has been returned to the sender. Until you, the manager, know that a task is competently done you have not delegated effectively.

Beware of Black Holes

When tasks are not reported back, or when instructions are misinterpreted, ‘’black holes’’ will appear. This is when tasks that have been delegated get lost and forgotten or never heard of again. Black holes swallow up planets, stars, space ships – along with any momentum in your business. Messages will get lost in translation, the needs of clients will be mistimed, productivity brought to a standstill. Use the Morse code and Boomerang methods to establish a cycle of feedback on all levels of progress, all the way back up the management line, to you.

Accountability starts from the top down as well as bottom up

Workplace delegation involves three important concepts: responsibility, authority and accountability.  Each of these is equally important to both the manager and the relevant team member.

As a manager, when we delegate to our team, be aware that we share our responsibility with them. Individuals and teams should be accountable for their performance, as you are held accountable for yours.

Before you next delegate, prevent an unwanted game of ‘hot potato’ with the following:

  • Does this task really need to be delegated?
  • Who is the best suited individual or team for the task?
  • Does it need a high level of specialisation?
  • Explain why the task is being delegated and provide a bigger context
  • Explain why it is important, as understanding and responsibility encourages commitment
  • Set expectations for reporting and results
  • Agree on and set a deadline

I ask new team members to ask these Taurus Top 6 questions when delegated a task:

  • Who is the work being prepared for specifically?
  • For what purpose am I doing this?
  • When do you need it by?
  • What format do you need it in?
  • Where should it be saved or stored?
  • How long do you expect it to take me?

So, whether you are a business owner or work for a multinational, we all need to perfect the art of delegation. It’s up to you to iron out the flaws in your business paradise. Good luck.

About the author:

Sharon WilliamsSharon is a pioneer in the Australian marketing and public relations agency industry. She is a CEO, Fellow of the PRIA, international speaker, personal brand expert, entrepreneur, mentor, marketer, media commentator and frequent mainstream editorial contributor. Under Sharon’s leadership and entrepreneurial flair, Taurus is now recognised as one of Australia’s highest profile agencies, offering unparalleled levels of service to global corporations including Advance, UTS:INSEARCH, Appster, Napoleon Perdis and Clean Up Australia.

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Sharon Williams

Sharon Williams

Sharon Williams is the founder and CEO of Taurus Marketing. She has founded a number of businesses and organisations and has more than 25 years experience in marketing and PR from the UK and Europe to Asia, and now Australia.

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