If you are like most small business owners (or executives), you have a pretty active to-do list and not nearly enough time to do it all. Besides keeping an eye on the overall business, it is likely that you are involved with some of the day-to-day work with customers. For some business owners, they stay in the Pre-Leader stage and try to do everything themselves. And they wonder why they feel overwhelmed and overworked. I don’t think anyone ever founds a business saying, “I want to create something that will make me miserable.”

Share the work

Unlike bigger organizations, the business owner is an integral piece to how the whole organization works. Like that saying, “if Momma ain’t happy, nobody’s happy”, if the business owner isn’t happy, chances are very good morale and productivity are suffering. But, if you are spending your time trying to do everything then 1) nothing is getting done well and 2) you could be spending your time on the wrong things.

1. Know what you are delegating. When you’re assigning a task to someone, give them the details, resources and expectations so they can get the job done. You might know what you want in your head. The person doesn’t.The key thing here is to fully communicate so the job gets done in a reasonable amount of time. It may be helpful to write down some notes so nothing is forgotten.

2.  Be sure this is work you should delegate. If the work is an integral piece of the long-term success of your business (leadership, strategic or key customer responsibilities), this is in your purview.

3. Identify if you have a staff member or a resource outside of the organization who has the necessary skills. It is often surprising how often management in small business overlooks in-house talent. You did hire this person for some reason (hopefully other than it’s a family member) and maybe it’s time for them to take on additional responsibilities. One of my clients has freed up quite a bit of time by appointing others to be team leaders on projects. Now he uses this time to focus more on an impending product launch.

There are plenty of outside resources who have the necessary skills to take on tasks you don’t need to do yourself. Bookkeeping, information technology (like backing up your website and other data), marketing and other tasks may be things you like to do but they may not be the best use of your time.

4. Set up an accountability system. To make delegating most effective, set up times to meet so progress can be discussed. Even if the task isn’t completed, you will be able to ask “what happened?” without drama and foster positive resolution for any problems.

5. Monitor yourself. It may be tough at first to give up that sense of control over every detail in your business. That’s part of learning how to delegate. And yet, micro-managing basically means you’re still doing the task but you’ve added the additional work of minutely watching someone else complete your assignment. Your way of working is one of many. Avoid interfering and show the person you believe and trust in their abilities.

Bonus tip: Thank the person for their hard work. This helps to build a stronger relationship, confidence and motivation. The only way you will develop a dream team from your staff is to acknowledge and encourage them.

Know which role you must play

Knowing when it’s time to put  on the Worker Bee hat and when to put on the “CEO” hat is a key piece of delegating. It’s understood that you have certain expertise that makes your products and/or services sing. However, there is just some work that is a time-waster.

What tips would you add to make it easier for a small business owner (or executive) to delegate?