Management Practices

Owner to Owner: The Art of Delegation with Chris Murphy

Chris Murphy | March 9, 2016 | 1:08 PM

Delegating is one of the hardest things to do for entrepreneurs, because in most cases, we’re control freaks. It took me years to learn how to delegate, and to be honest, I still struggle with it. But when you start to see how much more you can accomplish when you delegate, you’ll do it more and more. Here are some ways to sharpen your delegation skills:

  1. Pay attention. What strengths does your team possess? As one of my mentors, Neil Ducoff says, “For every pair of hands, you get a brain!” I bet you have some team members who have some hidden talents that you’ve overlooked because you were too busy trying to do everything. Stop, and look around. For example, I have team members who are super detail-oriented who are great at getting things done. I have connectors/cheerleaders who thrive on relationships and are masters at selling themselves and the company’s brand promise. And, I have techie gurus, who have become my ‘digital ninjas.’
  2. Determine what you can or need to delegate. Here are a few of the things I used to do, that I now delegate. Daily bookkeeping journal entries, bank account reconciliations, payroll, social media marketing and recruiting. That’s just four things, and I can’t tell you how much time that freed up for me! Remember, much of what we do, we can train people to do. Start small. Pick one thing that you want to delegate and see how it goes for a month, then add one or two more.
  3. Match team member strengths with items being delegated. Spread out the number of delegated tasks across a number of different team members instead of loading down one team member with a number of tasks. Not only does that help grow many people on your team, but then you aren’t as vulnerable when someone leaves.
  4. Delegate, don’t abdicate! This is where we normally fail at delegating. We tend to delegate tasks and then forget about them. Remember, you ultimately are still responsible for the tasks you delegate. To make sure they get done, create your own system of checks and balances. Start by defining and explaining your expectations to the person you are delegating to, then set a due date and ask them to notify you when the task is completed. Then, assign a recurring task for yourself with a due date, so you can check in with that employee if you don’t heard from them first. 

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