Learning to delegate is the key to small business productivity and growth

Earlier this month, I wrote a post about research that showed that employee productivity and creativity are enhanced when people feel they are able to make progress each day, no matter how small that progress is. One of the keys to enabling your employees to make progress is to empower them with authority to make decisions. And this requires that you learn to do one of the things that many small business owners find very difficult –– to relinquish authority through delegation.

Many small business owners start out as one-person shops. During this period, they are wearing all the hats there are to be worn in the business. Once they begin to hire employees, some owners find it very hard to hand over the reins of various functions to others. A dreaded habit of micromanaging sets in, a situation that makes nobody happy, including the owner, who is stressed by “having to decide everything around here.”

Here’s one sign that you may be guilty of micromanaging. Do clients come to you with all their problems? This is a sign that you haven’t effectively delegated authority to your staff and everyone – including your clients – knows this. Think how much time this takes out of your day, time that could be used on pursuing business growth strategies.

What if instead of being the master of everything, you let go? For example, when a new client comes on board, instead of telling them to come to you if they ever have any problem, you could instead assure them that you have full confidence in your staff’s ability to problem solve but if anything ever does arise that leaves them dissatisfied, they can always contact you directly. This should reduce the number of fires you have to put out because you have empowered your staff.

In reality, if you aren’t able to delegate, you are limiting the growth potential of your business because as you bring in more and more customers or clients, you simply won’t be able to keep up if you insist on being involved in everything the way you were at the start. So hire the best people possible and then give them the authority to do the great work they’re capable of doing. They will be happier, more creative and more productive, and the business will grow because you have more time to focus on what really matters instead of being constantly focused on telling everyone else how to do their jobs.

Here are some good articles on the art of delegating to help you learn this invaluable skill:

“Learning to Delegate,” a white paper from Rice University.

“Stop Micromanaging and Learn to Delegate,” a post from the Harvard Business Review Blog

“Learning to Delegate,” an article from Entrepreneur magazine

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