The biggest mistake I see people make when they start the process of delegating to an assistant or team member is to start looking for things that they can delegate.
The mistake is understandable. If someone asks you, “What can I do for you?” your first instinct would probably be to scan your to-do list for something that seems delegatable. But for long-term, effective delegation, don't begin by focusing on what you want to hand off.
Begin the process by determining what it is you want to do.
Forget about the rules you've heard about what you “should” delegate. There is no “right” set of tasks to delegate, and there is no “wrong” kind of task to hand off. What matters is what works for you, not what works for anyone else.
If you really enjoy keeping your own books, do so. Bookkeeping is often one of the first tasks a small business owner delegates to someone else–but it doesn't have to be. If you like setting up and coding your own newsletter, then continue to do so. You get a creative charge out of looking for images to use in your blog posts? Then keep doing that. The tasks that others “usually” delegate might not be the ones you want to get rid of, and that's fine.
Don't plan on delegating those tasks that you love doing.
Folks often get frustrated with delegation because they try to delegate tasks they believe they ought to hand off, regardless of their own affinity for doing those tasks. Those tend to be the tasks that they later say their assistant or team member could “never do well enough.” The delegator's perfectionism sometimes stems from the fact that they tried to delegate a task they really loved doing themselves. So if you love it, keep it.
Start noticing what isn't on your “I want to do this” list
The tasks or steps that really bug you or that you downright dislike are often good ones to hand off to someone else. Those also tend to be pretty obvious to us. If you hate making and remembering appointments, it's usually not too difficult to think of delegating your calendar management to someone.
What is sometimes less obvious is a task that we don't necessarily loathe, but also doesn't make it onto our “I love doing this!” list.
For example, maybe you're a photographer who doesn't mind the process of uploading & placing photographs on your website, but you do it out of necessity more than enjoyment. You could delegate that.
Or perhaps you're a blogger who always formats your own blog posts and comes up with post titles, but your core passion is the writing. You can delegate the formatting and titling.
Or maybe you love giving teleclasses but, when you stop and notice it, you realize you get a bit stressed out over setting up the pre-call reminder emails and managing the web interface during the call. You can delegate those.
Chances are the tasks you do don't all fall neatly into two categories: “Love” or “Loathe.” There are probably a whole heap of tasks that fall into a middle spectrum, somewhere between “This is okay but not awesome” and “This doesn't totally drive me crazy.” All of those middle spectrum tasks can be great to hand off.
Reframe delegation so that it's less about getting rid of stuff from your to-do list and more about supporting you doing what you love
Rather than confining your delegatable tasks to those you dislike or don't know how to do, look at delegation as a way to make more room for you to do the really high-value tasks–the stuff that lights you up.
Rather than looking at your assistant or team member as someone who does stuff you don't want to do or can't do, see that person as someone who allows you to do more of whatever it is you love.
Rather than approaching delegation from the perspective of wanting to offload things from your to-do list onto someone else's, approach it from the perspective of wanting to fill your to-do list with the stuff that lights you up, and letting your team member(s) support that endeavor by handling the rest.
When approached from that perspective, the process stops being about what “should” or “shouldn't” be delegated, and starts being about what lets you flourish. (And isn't that really the whole point?)
The process of delegating and working with a team member is personal and unique–just like your business. Delegation won't look the same for you as it does for your business mentor or your good friend or the other person who uses the same VA you use–because you and your business aren't carbon copies of them and their businesses.
So the only way to know whether a task or project is best-suited to you or to your team member is to determine whether it lights you up, or whether it's something that supports your doing the things that light you up. The former activities constitute your domain–the latter are the ones your team member can run with.
What supports you in doing what you love?
What kinds of tasks or projects do you do that aren't really what you love doing, but support you doing it? What sorts of things do you ask for help with–or what would you love to ask for help with but haven't yet? (If you have worked with an assistant or team member, what did you delegate that supported you, and what did you try delegating that didn't end up working out at all?)
i love this line from you:
the process stops being about what â€œshouldâ€ or â€œshouldn’tâ€ be delegated, and starts being about what lets you flourish
-anything technically relaated cramps my style nd doesn’t let me flourish
-intense copywriting and editing cramps my style
-marketing my business, figuring out how to promote products and the system of doing it cramps my style. i can do what i need to do if i have a clear direction and feel supported. figuring out that direction seriously erodes my ability to flourish
i see your concepts as building on each other – busy-ness, little right lies, and now clarity about how you help people create a nice description of who you really want to work with. thanks for that. you’re a master at this.
.-= char´s last blog ..Ask Char: Dealing with Depression =-.
I really think the key to finding the right support is knowing what it is you’re supporting–and the only way to know that is to focus on what you love doing and the places where you flourish. That’s primary. Figuring out how to put some support around it becomes much clearer when you know what it is you’re trying to support… and going off of someone else’s list of “what to delegate” or “what to hire someone for” just doesn’t do that. Funny how it all loops around to being about self-discovery, isn’t it? 🙂
And ohhh, do you have me thinking now. I love everything I’m doing right now because I have a habit of totally avoiding the stuff I don’t like to do, or am uncomfortable doing, until it burns off or burns up or burns *me*.
So researching stuff for myself and other people? Love it, do it. Creating SEO-friendly excerpts for my posts? Hate it, don’t do it. Writing posts/articles? Love it, do it. Big, big writing projects, like an ebook? Makes me crazy, squeak it out a page at a time.
With all that you said here, it’s clear that it’s time to dig into the stuff I don’t enjoy knowing that it’ll add to my bottom AND one day I can hand it off to someone who can help. It’s a pain, but it doesn’t have to hurt forever 😀
.-= Crystal´s last blog ..Product Funnels, Pricing, and other gifts from the Lift Off Retreat =-.
One of the best things you can do to prepare for having a support team (or person) is to practice being aware of what you’re great at and what you need help with, what you love and what you really dislike, what you can’t get enough of and what you can’t stand. I recommend actually jotting down a list of thing that fall into the latter categories, and adding to it whenever something else comes to mind. Even if you don’t hire an assistant or team member for a year, that list will be so valuable when you do hire–you’ll know exactly what kind of help you want, which will make the process of finding the right VA or team member sooooo much easier than just sort of haphazardly guessing & trying ’em on for size.
So as you dig in, even when it’s painful or uncomfortable now, it IS the start of your support system that you’re creating, just by beginning to notice and be aware!
Err, I meant add to my bottom LINE…bottom LINE.
I totally knew what you meant, though that did not prevent me from giggling gleefully at the slip. 🙂
Marissa – this is great.
I’ve just found someone to do my monthly accounts – it’s a couple of hours a month. And I should have read your post first because I love doing this – but everyone else seemed to be agreed that this is something to delegate. It’s working out fine but it might have been better to put my resources into having someone handle my emails – which I really dislike. I’m starting that list you suggested. Emails and housework are at the top of the dislike list!
Figuring out the balance between keeping what you love & delegating what you don’t is often easier said than done, Vicky. Even when we have a clear idea about what we love doing, it can be really tempting to delegate it if everyone around us tells us that’s the best thing to do. The key to remember is that how you delegate and what you delegate is always open for review and change–if you’re not thrilled with the current arrangement, there’s no harm in investigating a different one!
When I delegate tasks, my primary consideration is how suitable the person is to that delegated task. For example: I wouldn’t delegate wordpress plugin installation to my copy writer, even though I don’t enjoy it. Shouldn’t that factor in? To me, that’s the path to maximizing the productivity of the team.
You’re absolutely right–delegating tasks that are outside of your team member’s expertise is probably counter-productive, and that is certainly an important piece to the overall puzzle.
But I always encourage my clients to consider what they love doing and what they want support with first, so that as they start hiring team members they can ensure that they’re hiring someone (or someones) with the appropriate skillset to handle those tasks that they’ll be handing off. Keeping an eye on what you love doing and what you want to delegate can help you build the right team for your needs, so that when you’re ready to start delegating, you’ve got the right person(s) (with the right skillsets) ready to run with what you’re delegating.
I think this is fantastic and sadly unorthodox advice! It really applies to business as a whole, I see so many people building the business they think they “should” have over the business they truly love.
.-= Laura Roeder´s last blog ..Before, During and After: How to Know What to Focus on When Running an Online Business =-.
Thank you for this, I immediately ran off and made a list of what I want to keep and what I want to delegate. Most of it was surprisingly clear. Now I just have to make some money so I can afford to do it. 🙂
.-= Kirsty Hall´s last blog ..8 Excuses Artists Make For Not Having A Website =-.